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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Date & Relate > Ghosts of Boyfriends Past

Date & Relate
by Sara Hodon

Ghosts of Boyfriends Past

Until recently, I would often say that my exes never truly go away.  For one reason or another, the last few guys that I dated seriously were still lingering in my life, and would resurface every couple of months.  It’s crazy, but I’d never been able to make that clean, healthy break that everyone recommends. 

I’d prided myself on the fact that I’d been able to stay on good terms with my exes.  And yes, everyone thought I was nuts.   With one in particular, we would go for months without speaking to each other, then get back in touch and catch up.  Sometimes we would hang out.   This went on for years.  With a second ex, that situation was even stranger.  Our relationship crashed and burned, but we’d recovered enough that we’d formed a shaky friendship, or so I thought.   And I was fine with that.   Unfortunately, we’d made vacation plans before splitting.  I was too mentally and emotionally wrung out to try to find another travel buddy, so, yes friends, we still went on vacation together.  But that’s how it went with us for awhile—an email here or there, or one of us would try to make plans with the other, only to have them fall through.  I guess you could say we were friends.

My point?  DON’T DO WHAT I DID!

If you break up with someone, break up with them.  Cut those ties.  Maybe, maybe a few years down the road, you may be able to work on building a friendship.  That is, if they even cross your mind by then.  I look back now and wonder, “What was I thinking? “ It goes without saying that my vacation that year was awkward, though not nearly as bad as it could’ve been.  Toward the end of our relationship, we had both started to do our own thing and spend less time together, so the routine wasn’t much different on vacation.   It’s not that I didn’t have fun.  I just think I would’ve had much more fun with some of my girlfriends or, better yet, a new boyfriend who was crazy about me!  My problem was, my exes would re-surface during a dating dry spell.   Since I didn’t have anyone else in my life at the time, we would hang out.  I was always very careful to keep things casual as much as possible.  We had broken up for a reason (usually initiated by me), and I didn’t want to lead anyone on. 

My point, in case you missed it?  DON’T DO WHAT I DID!  EVEN AS “FRIENDS”, YOU’RE LEADING THEM ON.

But how?  It seems harmless, right?  All of those uncontrollable flames of passion have long fizzled, right?   You both know what’s up, you’re keeping it casual, and those feelings won’t change, right? 


I can guarantee that there are hard feelings or unfinished business of some sort still lurking beneath the surface.  You have to feel comfortable or bold enough to ask the burning questions: “Why did you dump me?”, or “What happened between us?”, but one of you will speak up sooner or later.  Are you really prepared for that?  That’s exactly what happened to me.  I’d actually dated my first ex (the one who would resurface every few months) twice, and I broke up with him both times.  I knew he still held a grudge.  I knew it was a matter of time before I got those questions.  And sure enough, we had an argument and all of that old junk came spewing out.  Even though I knew it was coming, I didn’t want to have that conversation.  It went as badly as I thought it would.   I suspected that we’d never be good terms again, and that argument pretty much killed any chance of civility that was left. 

I wish I could tell you that this all ends happily.  I wish I could say that my exes and I are all best buds and hang out regularly.  Again—not so much.   But you know what?  It’s so much better this way.   It was liberating to finally close all of those doors from the past.  It took a few years, but I severed all of those ties and made peace with those situations.  I’d wasted too much time trying to make up for relationships that had gone wrong, and thought that keeping up a friendship would make up for it.  Trying to maintain a friendship actually made it worse. 

So if you’re tempted to keep those tiny little flickers of interest with someone when you know it’s a bad, bad idea, go with your gut.   If you feel guilty about a breakup, don’t think that trying to stay friends will ease things between you.  It’s healthier for both of you to just move on. 

Put those ghosts of boyfriends past to rest.  You will love again!



Date & Relate is published every Thursday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Sara Hodon. She can be reached at

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