Just had a breakup and don't know how to handle future contact with your ex? It's time for you to re-visit the best ex-couples in literature. These are the folks who learned how to co-parent, stay friends, and support each other in the absence of romantic or sexual love, and they will give you all the uncoupling goals.
To be clear, I'm not encouraging anyone to attempt to remain in contact with someone who is abusive or otherwise toxic. There is no reason to let someone who hurts you — intentionally or not, physically or not — re-enter or remain in your life. If you need someone to talk to about an abusive current or former partner, please contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.
If your relationship ended amicably, without violence or anguish, it's possible, perhaps even preferable, to stay friendly toward one another. This goes double for ex-couples with children.
There are a ton of nonfiction books out there to get you through breakups and divorces, but sometimes a little bit of inspirational fiction is in order too. Consider the 10 ex-couples I've picked for you below, and share your favorite co-parents from literature with me on Twitter!
Lisa Engle and Watson Brewer from the Baby-Sitters Little Sister Series by Ann M. Martin
This spin-off series focused on Karen, the seven-year-old step-sister of Baby-Sitters Club President Kristy Thomas, whose mother married Karen's father, Watson Brewer. Although Watson and his ex-wife Lisa Engle's original custody agreement makes her the primary caregiver for Karen and her brother Andrew, the kids eventually insist on seeing their father more often, and Watson and Lisa happily share custody, to everyone's delight.
The Cast of 'Dykes to Watch Out For' by Alison Bechdel
Over its 25-year lifespan, Dykes to Watch Out For featured a large cast of characters whose intertwined lives led to a lot of couplings, breakups, and re-couplings. Through it all, the female protagonists at the center of Alison Bechdel's comic remained friendly and supportive, more or less.
Sunny Randall and Richie Burke from The Sunny Randall Series by Robert B. Parker
She's an ex-cop and current private eye, his family has extensive connections to organized crime, and while they're better off apart, they don't really want to be rid of each other. Sunny and Richie even share custody of their "kid," Rosie: a miniature bull terrier.
Jonesy's Mom and Dad from 'Jonesy' by Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle
Now that her parents are divorced, teenage Jonesy lives with her donut shop-owning Dad, but doesn't see her Mom much at all until later in the series, when we learn why the couple divorced. Turns out, Jonesy's Mom and Dad married too young, by their own admission, and he agreed to take care of their daughter so that his ex-wife could attend law school in the city. Pretty cool, right?
Dexter and Sylvie from 'One Day' by David Nicholls
In this novel from Us author David Nicholls, Sylvie cares enough about Dex, her ex-husband and the father of her child, that she comforts him after their divorce, when a tragedy cuts short his time with the true love of his life.
Rumi, Jin, Youji, and Chiyako from 'Marmalade Boy' by Wataru Yoshizumi
Hoo boy. This manga series from Wataru Yoshizumi begins with Miki's parents, Jin and Rumi, happily informing her that they have fallen in love with other people while on a recent vacation. Those other people, Youji and Chiyako, also happen to be married to one another, and their son, Yuu, is Miki's age. The couples plan to divorce and swap partners, but intend to move both families into one big house. That turns out to be what's best for everyone, even if it is a little weird at first.
Kim and Steve from 'The Last Song' by Nicholas Sparks
Since divorcing Steve, Kim has raised their two children in New York while he settled on the North Carolina coast. When Steve learns that he is dying of cancer, however, Kim pushes her children to reconnect with him, and even pays a visit of her own to say goodbye.
Laura and Rob from 'High Fidelity' by Nick Hornby
After Laura breaks up with Rob and moves in with another man, she cares enough to check in as he spirals into an obsessive search for answers as to why his relationships fail. When Laura's father dies, Rob returns the favor.
Sammy and Dodee from 'Under the Dome' by Stephen King
Sammy and Dodee might not be together anymore, but that doesn't mean they've stopped hanging out and having sex. Before both women meet unfortunate ends in Chester's Mill, you'll be rooting for them to get back together.
Nadia and Luke in 'The Mothers' by Brit Bennett
Brit Bennett's The Mothers opens with Nadia having an abortion after learning that she is pregnant by her pastor's son, Luke. She leaves her hometown behind, only to return years later and find herself comforting the man she once loved.