AdviceHelp Me Rhonda

Is It Really Possible to Remain Friends With an Ex?

Actual Friends

I want to put a dent in this popular idea that you can’t be friends with your ex. I am a married woman in my 40s who had numerous boyfriends before finally settling down. Most of them were fabulous, smart, creative guys with great endeavors and ethics. Yet there were good reasons for why none of these relationships ended up being more long-term. And yes, some of the endings were disappointing and messy, to say the least.

But after a time I would realize that I really cared about this person and wanted him to be a part of my life, even if he no longer fit into the “boyfriend” box. We’d spent a lot of time cultivating this relationship; I’d cared deeply about him before… why would I stop just because we were no longer a couple? I wanted to call him up and say, “How are you? What have you been up to?” To hear his views on things and, you know… be friends.

I am on friendly terms with nearly every significant boyfriend I had; I talk with three of them regularly, and one is one of my best friends in the world, more than 20 years after breaking up. Like any old, good friendship with lots of time and experience shared, these relationships are cherished. Of course, it helps that my husband of 15 years is not the jealous type. He’s a confident man who trusts me and our relationship. (He’s friends with the exes, too!)

My advice for exes who want to remain friends is this:

  • It takes time. It can take months or even years of not seeing each other before both people are ready to move on, understand why the romance didn’t last and view the relationship in the clear, calm, detached light of friendship.
  • It can help if one or both people have found a new partner, so you’re not tempted to fall back into old habits.
  • It definitely helps if the new partner is not the jealous type. Jealousy can be flattering at first, but it’s really a sign of insecurity, and in some cases it signifies a controlling, abusive type of personality. Does your partner trust you or not? If he/she doesn’t trust you, then you probably shouldn’t be together. Conversely, if you’re not trustworthy, you probably shouldn’t be together.

Of course some people don’t want to be friends. It may be that he/she doesn’t keep in touch with friends in general, or maybe their vision is limited by the idea that you “can’t really be friends” with an ex. Not all exes are deserving of your friendship, in which case you need to ask yourself, “Why the hell did I spend so much time with someone I don’t even value as a friend?” Surely there was something more drawing you together than just basic chemistry and availability? Let’s hope so.

Anyhow, the “I just want to be friends” sentiment isn’t always a sham or a lost cause, especially for those who behave with honesty and integrity. Best of luck to all you ex-lovers.

A Loyal Friend

I agree with you, ALF, real friendship is possible. But, as you point out, there are a lot of caveats. And I maintain that former romantic partners often (not always, but often) form a friendship that differs from the friendship you have with, say, your college roommate. That’s not to say that a physical or romantic element always remains, but the foundation is different.

Moving Out

I ended my lease on a house in Athens about two months ago and moved out of town, but I have yet to receive my refundable security deposit from a fairly well known realtor in the area. My roommate has received hers, and I’ve tried to contact said realtor a multitude of times via many modes of communication, but he won’t respond. It seems that he plans to keep my money without any explanation (the house was in mint condition when we left), so I am at a loss as to what to do. As a recent graduate, I really need that money. What can I legally do in this situation with little to no cost to me? Sincerely,

Determined Former Tenant


My Internet research reveals that, in Georgia, your landlord is obligated to return your security deposit within one month of your moving out and returning keys. If yours hasn’t done this and hasn’t provided documentation that the deposit was used to cover damage or cleaning (which shouldn’t be the case if the house was indeed in pristine condition), then you have to turn up the heat a little.

The first step is to write a demand letter. The demand letter lays out (in an unemotional and businesslike tone) the facts: You moved out leaving the house clean and in good repair; you haven’t received your security deposit; your roommate has, and you have attempted to contact the landlord several times with no response. If you can, include the details of when and how you tried to contact the landlord. Also, include copies of any supporting documents you have—the receipt for your deposit, the section of the lease discussing the security deposit, etc.

The demand letter also needs to give your landlord a deadline for his response and warn him that you intend to file in small claims court if you don’t hear from him by the deadline. Keep a copy of the demand letter for yourself and send it to your landlord by certified mail. The hope is that your letter spurs your landlord to action and a fat check ends up in your mailbox. If that doesn’t happen, though, you need to be ready to take the next step.

Small claims court (or magistrate court in Georgia and Athens-Clarke County) is the next step and requires a little more work. Again based on my Internet research, it appears between $75 and $100 to file in this court. (At that point, though, you’re starting to cut into the money you might recover. But it might be about pride and principle, now.) More details are available on the ACC government website: