“What do I do the next time I see her?”
That’s a great question. When you are no longer your lover’s Lover, what is the new role you play, and what does that tell you about what to do next?
As satisfying as knife-in-the-eye revenge fantasies may seem, for many of us it behooves all parties to build healthy new relationships with our former romantic partners. As a Divorcee, Co-parent, and Friend to my ex’s, it’s an ongoing challenge to find the most loving approach to relationships that crashed on a note of extreme frustration.
How do you reshape a relationship that was once hot, sexy, and exciting when the sex is done?
Let’s set aside the breakups in which avoidance is optimal and easy. I’m curious about the relationships that still have some value or, for some reason, you can’t avoid because you work together or share a child or friends.
Let’s also make this a basic assumption: Lust isn’t the only thing you shared with each other. At some point in your relationship you demonstrated the means to help each other be your best. In Pilot Fire palance, Love is the energy you put into helping someone be their best. Let’s assume that’s still possible and desirable.
With that idea in mind, start with how you love each other, and rename your new role based on what’s great about your relationship minus the romance. Once Boyfriend, Wife, or Lover, now what? Colleague, Confidant, Co-parent, Mentor, Student, Partner, Cheerleader, Advocate, Advisor, Catalyst, Catapult, Benefactor, and Belayer are all positive roles that give you a chance to be your best at helping them be their best.
Then ask, in this new role what will I do this week?
Yes! It sucks dealing with the loss of dreams borne of hot passion. You may still be wrestling with the pain of rejection or jealousy or hurtful words, but if there is something worth saving in the relationship, something worth trying hard to make better, even at the risk of failure, then it’s time to take the next tiny step in your new role.
For example, even if you can’t stand being near your ex-husband, as your children’s Mother, how can you help him be a better Father to them? If it was the skills you admired in your coworker that gave you the hots for her, can you use that admiration to be a supportive Colleague?
Make a plan
In this new role of yours, what will you do this week?
Rehearse it. Simulate your interaction till it feels right, till it feels possible, maybe even likely to work. Make sure to locate the motivation from your new role— not through your former role as a Lover. Will you feel good about yourself doing it?
Then write it into your week’s plan.
And do it.
Please share your experience.
What works for you when reshaping your role with a former lover?