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Sexcapades: Amiable exes equal successes

Published: March 18, 2011
Section: Opinions


What makes a successful relationship? Recently I’ve become a sort of go-to gal for relationship and interpersonal questions from my friends in a way that I haven’t been before. Maybe it’s because I’m actually in what seems like a healthy and stable relationship for once. But does the end of a relationship actually mean that it wasn’t successful? Or can a successful relationship simply come to an end?

The difficulty with any relationship question is that inevitably, at the end of a relationship, one person is able to move on faster than the other. Additionally, what we each define as a relationship differs from relationship to relationship and person to person. So while one person might think a relationship was going on, the other might think the whole thing was pretty casual.

If you watch “Greek”—and you’re as sad about it ending as I am—then you’ve probably seen a few examples of some pretty messed-up relationships, some successful ones and, in the last few episodes, examples of people trying to figure out what went wrong. The whole Evan and Casey thing was nothing new for me—my own boyfriend cheated on me and I found out in a similar way when I was first starting college. For Rebecca, however, why her relationships didn’t work was less obvious and a secret that neither guy is willing to tell her.

The truth is, dating a guy who never got over his ex (which for both of her boyfriends was the same girl) is usually a bad idea. Dating a guy who never grew up enough to want to graduate college on time also tends to be a bad idea because real life has to start eventually.

Relationships that end amicably are usually tougher to work out than those that don’t because, if it ends badly, at least you’re not talking to each other. Ones that end well usually need a bit of time to fizzle out and sometimes that time never comes, which can end in emotional wreckage.

If an ex-couple continues to talk and hang out immediately after breaking up, especially if one (or both) of the people isn’t really over it, emotional breakdowns and inappropriate sex usually ensue.

This can mean that the end of the relationship gets effectively disregarded and (usually) unrealistic hope is given to the still-in-love party about the possibilities for the future. None of this makes it an unsuccessful relationship though, just a complicated one.

So what exactly IS a successful relationship? I like to think that successful relationships are the ones where you actually manage to be friends afterwards, even once you stop having inappropriate sex. This is harder than you might imagine and I would know.

For almost five years after breaking up with my high school sweetheart, we remained friends; in fact, I would have said he was one of my closest friends. Since I told him that we could no longer sleep together in the early fall, however, I’ve barely heard from him, even when I make the effort to reach out.

With other exes, however, we’ve managed to stay platonic friends for some time, enduring even through the eventual coupling-up of one or both of us with other people. In all, these HAVE to be the successful relationships because I’m a true believer that if you have dated someone, there was something that brought you together that a breakup doesn’t have to do away with.

I also refuse to believe that the only successful relationships are the ones that last forever, so there has to be something else. The people who know you best and love you no matter what are always going to be in your life and some of them can be exes from successful relationships that just didn’t work out.