Still have feelings for an ex (and co-parent)

A short letter for the holiday ...

From reading your column daily over the past few years, I see that both you and your readers always advise against exes remaining friends if one still has romantic feelings for the other. I understand it's not healthy to remain in that type of platonic relationship, and most of the responses I've seen on the subject say to simply cut ties. But what if there are young children and shared custody involved? The parents really have no choice but to see each other at least twice per week. How does the parent who still has feelings for the other deal with this situation?

– Still Love My Ex, Brookline

I wouldn't say that we (the royal Love Letters we) always recommend cutting ties with exes, SLME. We want people to protect themselves. We certainly don't want anyone to pretend to be platonic pals with an ex when they're really pining for a second chance.

When kids are involved, exes need to maintain a civil relationship, which is very different than a full-blown, platonic friendship. You should be cordial, loving co-parents, not part-time partners. You can call each other to talk about the kids, but you shouldn't be checking in late at night when you're watching TV and just want to chat.

The goal is to find other people to call when you get those lonely feelings. It can take years to establish boundaries with an ex, but if you obey your own rules and lean on other people for companionship, you'll train yourself to compartmentalize.

Try to make the most of your nights off from the kids by seeing friends and building a rich life. That's the best (and maybe only) way to feel better about an ex and keep the relationship in perspective.
Readers? Are we always in favor of dropping exes? If you're co-parents, how should it work? How do you stay friendly if you're trying to get over the relationship? Help.

– Meredith