In what he believes is not a display of questionable boundaries, but rather a sign of his unusually high emotional aptitude, your ex thinks remaining friends is a good idea for both of you. Though he thinks the two of you are better off separate, your special connection and the ability to discuss his difficult childhood at length with someone who knows him really well, or vent about whatever’s currently on his mind as if you haven’t broken up at all is important to your ex. He expects that his future partners will be totally comfortable with this arrangement.
Because you’re no longer romantically involved, it won’t be weird when your ex requests dating advice concerning the girl he is seeing since, he points out, you are the perfect person to advise him in that arena as the girl he once foisted his many commitment fears and manipulative quirks upon (which he knows he was an asshole for, and which he feels very bad about doing all over again to this girl). Do you think the right thing to do is break up with her, he asks you.
Maybe sometimes you can talk about what went wrong in your relationship and what he did or didn’t learn from it, and whether this is related to his rocky relationship with his mother, who you never met while you were together, but who he will happily introduce you to as his friend. After, he will make a point of saying how much his mother liked you. Then he will look wistfully away for a moment.
Perhaps he’ll message you one night to start a conversation about your best-shared memories, including the time you surprised him with homemade creamsicles, or when you watched that incredible meteor shower in July. (He will not directly mention all the making out that occurred that night below the comets.) He’ll wonder what would have happened if things had gone differently with you two if he hadn’t had so many issues. He hopes one day to sort them out. You will simultaneously wonder if he is still seeing that girl he kept asking for advice about and whether he did what he is doing now with a different past partner while you two were still dating. He better not have.
He will thank you for being in his life. He just can’t talk to his guy friends this way. But you get him. You’re so close, you’re practically soulmates, he muses. It just didn’t work as a romantic thing, you know? But this whole you listening to his problems a lot as he keeps the specific parts of the relationship with you that he wants, and replaces the rest with new people really seems to work for him. So thanks for being there. You’re a really good friend. His best friend.
Not only are you a good friend, but you are also a good person, unlike the girl he just broke up with who unfriended him on social media after their breakup and suggested he was selfish for insisting they stay friends, and who is therefore extremely immature and overly emotional. He wouldn’t even call what they had a relationship, so why is she making such a big deal about it? Plus he thought they had a great connection so he didn’t get why she would just want to throw that away. He had seen her as a friend. Anyway, he wishes more women were as cool and low maintenance as you are. He wants to find someone just like you. But where there’s a spark, a natural pull, you know?
You will imagine the unmitigated freedom his other ex must have felt after deleting him from her life. Often, you hover your cursor over the unfollow button. What would happen if you did the same?