Share your tales of polite, harmonious break-ups here.

Break-ups we hear about in the news and see in movies are often fierce, mean, and dirty. The lawyers are selected for shark-like ruthlessness. Dear possessions will be destroyed, before one partner will see them in the hands of the other. The fights are accompanied by shouts, tears and flying crockery. The kids are used as weapons in long exhausting emotional battles. Nude-pictures made in the early loving days are put up on the internet for all to see. Anger and ill-will persist for years under an semblance of civility. We all know the ugly picture.

Yet, in my circle of friends I occasionally hear about breakups that are much, much more friendly. It may have to do with the fact that living together unmarried is very common in the Netherlands, so lawyers are an option, not a aggravating neccesity.

Let me give two quite examples. My friend A had lived with her SO for 19 years, although they had been in the roommates-stage for a few years. A year ago, he announced he had fallen in love with somebody else and wanted to move out. Well, they had a few emotional talks, and A put the SO a bit in the doghouse for a month or so, but after that they have been nothing but friendly, polite and helpful to each other. She stayed in the rented house and got the furniture, because he felt like the “guilty” party.

Another friend, E, had lived with her SO for ten years, when he had a fling with a co-worker. The relationship had not been very well, and they mutually agreed to split up. She moved out and took her furniture with her, he stayed in the apartment. The time after they decided to split, but she hadn’t found another place to live yet, was a bit awkward and tense, but on the whole, their break-up and the contact afterwards has been, as far as I can tell, also quite polite and without much fight or anger.

Currently, I myself am in what seems, at first glance, a break-up. I want to change the (very good, open) relationship with my SO of 15 years, J, to a Living Apart Together Open Relationship, and I will be living with a new SO, A. In the past two months, there have been many deep emotional talks with J, but the overall feeling has been positive, and it seems we have the worst behind us now (although I’m keeping my fingers crossed).

Have you had or witnessed instances of harmonious break-ups? Can you please share them here, as an inspiration to me, and as a counterweight to the stories in the tabloids and movies?

I lived with a man for six years, moved out at his request (I just don’t think this is working), he met someone younger, got married and the whole time we visited and kept up contact until he died. At the funeral, his wife, when I arrived, came up to me, guided me up the aisle to the front where she had placed many pictures of my friend, put her arm around me and said “there’s OUR Ted”.

It was very thoughtful of her.

Wow Canadiangirl… great atitude by the widow…

My parents broke up in a very civilized manner… or at least they didn’t fight in front of us. They did some couple therapy but they broke up anyway 10 years ago. My mom still does my Dad’s IRS till this day ! Naturally they keep in contact more due to bills, kids and their granddaughter…

I’ve seen apparently polite breakups turn ugly later when the woman feels abandoned or whatever… so I’d avoid giving too much info to your Ex about your new relationships.

Canadiangirl, your story reminded me of the funeral of France’s president, Francois Mitterand. Behind the coffin walked his wife and daughters, and behind them his long-time, semi-acknowledged mistress and Mitterands grown-up daughter.

first mrAru and I decided we were better friends than spouses, so I moved to Connecticut with current mrAru in 89, and mrAru’s exfiance is now married to ex mrAru. Works out nicely=)

Me and my last ex were going out for ~16 months. It was still fun, but some little things were bugging me about her, and I’m sure the same went for her. We’d have more and more small arguments, that got a little bigger each time, and once, we ended up not talking to each other for three days. When we did talk, we both pretty much realized that if things stayed the same, we’d be headed to a pretty nasty place, so we figured it best to break up. In the same conversation, we assumed we’d keep having sex (which unfortunately didn’t pan out, but oh well). Two years later, we don’t talk as often (she still lives 75 miles away), but I still consider her one of my best friends.

Not me, but my boyfriend’s ex-boyfriend has become one of my good friends. The idea of them in a relationship is completely absurd – we all joke they must have been drunk for the nine month duration of their fling – so the three of us get along very well together.

I got divorced a few years ago, and it was mostly civilized. It was a little rough for a couple of weeks after I told him I wanted to split up, but after that things settled down and we got along okay. We lived in the same house for a year after we separated and worked at the same place. We were living in Chicago, and I was planning on moving the next year to start grad school, so I didn’t want to leave my job that paid okay for one that didn’t pay as well, so I decided to stay put. We ended up moving at the same time, so we shared a U-Haul and moved together–dropped his stuff off in Virginia, then moved my stuff to North Carolina.

We went to see the divorce lawyer together, worked out how we were going to divide everything up (no kids, and the rest is just stuff). I got the bunnies and he got the truck. We stayed in touch for a little while after that, and I went to see him when he was in the hospital with a very rare and nasty disease, but I haven’t talked to him in a few years. Compared to a lot of other divorces, it wasn’t bad, but it’s something I never want to do again.

Was with somebody for four years, lived together for the last one and a half, just decided to move out. No screaming fights, no arguments over stuff, no long talks about our relationship. We still talk all the time and hang out, and I guess technically we’re still together (since there was no official break up with a notarized document or whatever broken up people do) but I’m sure I’d be “free” to see anyone else, and he would be also. There’s been no sex, but I wouldn’t necessarily be against that either.

I’ve never had a really ugly breakup, although they were all very emotionally difficult. To the extent that I’ve kept contact with my exes, they have all been as friends. (I’ve never gone “I never want to see you again” on anyone.)

Year 2 or 3, I ask her to marry me; she wants to wait, so I wait. Years 4-8, I put career stuff on hold to support her when she needed it (sometimes life gives you choices between work and family, I chose family). Year 7, she finally wanted to get married and start a family (joy!). Year 8, she changes her mind about the whole thing, but wants to stay friends, doesn’t want to lose me, I’m the best person she’s ever known, unlike anyone else, I’m her family, etc., etc., etc.

The received wisdom in such a situation is to cut off contact and walk away. I, however, felt that would be taking the easy way out, so I stayed around, helped her in another time of need, etc.

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The subsequent story of how she later betrayed my trust and stabbed me in the back (or should I say heart), multiple times (I’m a slow learner :slight_smile: ), I will omit, as it is beyond the scope of the OP’s question.

[Though she still wishes me well, and I, amazingly enough, still wish her well. (I just stay far far away and don’t tell her where I live.) Sent her a present (no return address) for her new kid. What can I say, I’m lover, not a fighter.]

I learned from the best, my parents.

When I was 16 they realised they were growing apart. My mom moved out for a summer trial period, then back in for the winter, then out for good the next summer. They stayed friends through it all, and even several years later she would sometimes stop by to get something from the attic. A couple years ago (now 20 years divorced) my mom and her new husband stopped by for a visit with my dad and his new wife. They had a nice visit and got along well.

I in turn have stayed friends with every GF I’ve ever had even after breaking up (except for my ex-wife, who will never forgive me for leaving her, despite us being miserable together at the end.) Heck, my first GF, who I loved desperately had told me when we started dating that she was still hung up about one guy from her past. Only a couple months after we moved in together, he reappeared and she didn’t know what to do. So I helped her find her own place and helped her move out till she could figure out where her heart led her. A couple years later we were back together.

I have many other friends who also stayed friends with their ex-SO’s and have found that (in my experience) the more honest you are with yourself and your SO, the more likely you are to stay friends. It’s when you lie, cheat, or hide things that it gets ugly.

Good Luck.