Woman worried friendship with ex is only hurting him

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Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My ex-partner and I split up about seven months ago, after living together. He is significantly older than I am. It was his decision. Although it broke my heart, I wanted him to be happy, so I moved out. I moved on with my life and found a really great guy whom I love very much. My ex and I stayed in contact, and I still consider him a friend. He seems to have given up on dating and has become more isolated. I still see him occasionally for dinner. He knows that I am seeing someone exclusively and that my current boyfriend and I have a great relationship. Recently, however, he seems a little more affectionate. Others who have witnessed this tell me he's still in love with me. I still love him very much and always will, but not romantically. While I've never said this to him in those words, I feel pretty confident that he knows this. I'm starting to wonder if hanging out with him every once in a while is doing him more harm than good. This situation is not really hurting me, nor is it getting in the way of my current relationship, but I do worry about whether our contact is good for him. I don't want to give him false hope or make him any more depressed; I just want to see him happy. Is there anything I can do or say that can help him?

-- M

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DEAR M: If you are happy and healthy in your new relationship, you should attempt to extend your friendship with your ex to include your current partner. The reason for this is twofold. This sort of transparency is probably best for your current relationship, and it also exposes your former partner to a new circle of people and a new dynamic, which could give him a social boost.

I do not think seeing this old friend occasionally would be "bad" for him; if he is depressed and isolated, this contact might be helpful. Rather than leave all of this as subtext, you should do your best to be honest with him about your concerns -- leaving the door open to a continuing friendship.

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