love out loud: how to be housemates with your ex
As I write this column, I am sitting in my living room with my current flame, Julio, and my ex, Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan and I are both on our laptops; I’m silently cursing the connection on my Virgin Mobile USB modem for constantly dropping in and out, and Bob Dylan is trying to scam wifi from the neighbours, while Julio is trying to coordinate make-up artists’ schedules for a video clip shoot. Bob Dylan is eating stir fry that he made last Saturday with his girlfriend, and Julio is accusing me of trying to kill him because I offered him hummus, having failed to realise that his allergy to peas extends to chickpeas.
The three of us hanging out together is not an altogether uncommon occurrence, given that Julio is my companion-of-choice and Bob Dylan is my housemate.
Some time ago, I wrote a column titled ‘how to be friends with your ex’ that likely alluded to the fact that I was friends with at least one of mine. Going from friends to housemates is, granted, not really the trajectory I ever expected our relationship would take but it’s nonetheless where we are now.
Despite the fact that Bob Dylan and I broke up at the end of 2006, a number of people expressed concern that this was an inappropriate arrangement, destined to fuck up both of our relationships and lives.
I used to think that it was impossible to be friends with an ex, and I still think that this isn’t nearly as common as it often seems to be, as so many people parade around their friendships with someone they used to be in love with, only to jump into bed together at every drunken opportunity. This is fine if no one is getting hurt (which is rarely the case, especially when it happens soon after a relationship has ended) but, categorically, it’s not a friendship.
I can’t say I would advocate living with your ex-partner under most circumstances, but the crux of why this works for us is that we are both completely over one another. In fact, I was more confident about living with Bob Dylan than I was about living with a guy I didn’t know, because as much as I love Julio, I’m not about to test that affection by living with someone who I might or might not eventually become attracted to, or vice versa. Bob Dylan and I have a history, but it’s one that has no loose ends, and that is buried deep in the past. I do not long for him, nor do I look at him and even think ‘that’s my ex-boyfriend’; it just makes us incredibly new age and cool that we can live together.
To have your ex in your life shouldn’t be difficult, and if it is, there’s probably something that hasn’t settled about the relationship. It can be difficult to let go of someone who used to be so important to you, but it’s only possible to have a tangible friendship with an ex if you are over him or her.
And until you reach that point, definitely definitely don’t move in with them.
(Image credits: 1.)