By Silas Nyanchwani
An ex for all seasons
Retaining an ex after a breakup has become an integral phase of relationships lately. Every where I’m looking are individuals breaking up, amicably or acrimoniously, and getting back together sooner than even Kenyan politicians regroup after every debacle. Lately, people are treating their ex-lovers with a curious respect hitherto uncommon when people part ways.
How come that more and more individuals are ensuring that they part ways with their ex in such a way that the door is not completely shut? It is now almost agreeable that you keep your new partner close but your ex closer. In my circle of friends, nearly all my male friends are closer to their exes than they are to the women they are dating presently.
They call each other as often as possible and sometimes the phone calls can be affectionate. And not falsely affectionate like when people are in love or they cheat with. They meet regularly and there seem to be a mutual agreement that even though they parted ways, their friendship was more important than their love or lust for each other. It is an increasingly fashionable trend in dating circles. Now many individuals have at least an ex-lover tucked away who can avail himself or herself any time called upon.
It will strike one as odd why people who, when they were in love had many wars and quarrels, suddenly become the best friends after breaking up. It is crazy. It is unreal. It seems as though it is easy to break up but extremely harder to let go a lover. People who have dated for long (long in present time can be anything between six months to two years) have a tendency of breaking up but leaving the door so wide open that it can accommodate ten exes at one.
Many individuals choose to retain their ex-lovers for a number of reasons. It can be the emotional and psychological comfort. That air of familiarity. Maintaining the status quo. We are all afraid of venturing into unfamiliar grounds. It is better to eke it out with someone we are at least conversant with their behavior, moods and attitudes. Starting a whole new relationship, balancing it until it takes off is like taking off from airport in foggy weather with an inexperienced pilot.
Secondly, many retain their exes for financial dependency. Especially for lovers who had a relationship pegged more on finance than romance. Nobody can be more trusted with money than your ex. S/he can’t be a bad debtor, unless of course extremely financially constrained. And after all, many ex lovers are often more honest to each other since there are no inhibitions whatsoever.
Thirdly and more obviously is the cheap and guaranteed access to sex. If one is in good books with his or her ex, it is extremely easy to fall into these temptations. It happens morning, noon and night. An ex needs no convincing or conviction. If the two enjoyed a particularly good sex life, the temptation is ever rife. This is the number one reason many retain their ex.
What I have observed is that most of the time people break up to rid off any commitment to the relationship. Lately many people are increasingly becoming suffocated with demanding relationship. With academic and professional work taking centre stage, nobody wants anything more imprisoning. So rather than having a partner with whom you commit your love, time and money, it is better to be independent and work out a different arrangement. This arrangement in turn turns out that one shops for a good partner, enter into a relationship, break up but retains the friendship bit.
Without commitment, it is easier to carry on with other clandestine relationship without a nosy partner who wants to know every Jane, Linnet and Mary in your phonebook. It is far much easier for women to have more male partners without the sheer envy of the overbearing boyfriend.
So the relationship reverts back from lovers to friends. It can only be explained simply; either no true love ever existed or they love each other so much that if they are too close, it might hurt their relationship.