Once upon a time back when you were still dating, your ex was your best friend. Then came the fights or the moment where one of you suddenly fell out of love and now you all are nothing but a memory to each other. But wait! You can be friends, right? After all, isn’t that what you promised each other during your tear-filled goodbye embrace? Isn’t this something you talked about as a “what if” scenario? The fanciful “if things don’t work out romantically, we can still be friends” situation… You shouldn’t have to lose your best friend just because you two didn’t work out romantically, right?
The fact is that everyone you date either ends up an ex or becomes the person you spend the rest of your life with. That’s a lot of pressure. To alleviate this pressure, we convince ourselves that we can somehow still be friends if the relationship falls through. While I believe there are some circumstances in which this might work (i.e. the romantic relationship was never really romantic or didn’t last long), it is likely that you and your ex cannot be friends. Here’s why:
- For the most part, break ups are not platonic. In a kind and beautiful world, partners would agree on when a romantic relationship has reached its end. In reality, one of you is going to be the one to call it quits. Whether it happens in a huge argument, some form or another of the disappearing act, a seemingly civil chit-chat, or some other scenario altogether, someone is usually hurt more by the end. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is then expecting that person to shut off all their romantic feelings and be content with friendship. Sure, that seemed like a nice sort of peace offering or solace at the time, but for someone who is still hurting from love lost will not be able to be just friends with the person they love. At least without being extremely tortured by the matter.
- Passion. Lust. Even hatred. Those feelings don’t just go away overnight. If your feelings towards your ex are going to change, it won’t happen right away. Note the “if” because, in most cases, these feelings will never go away and bringing those sorts of feelings into a supposed friendship can be confusing, dangerous, and did I mention confusing?
- One of you (or both) might be bitter about the break up. Especially the person who feels they were the one dumped. Endings can be rough. Ambiguous non-ending-endings can be rougher.
- Once able to tell each other everything, you will have to sensor yourself with your friend-ex. Talking to your ex about the one-night stand from last night? Awkward. Telling them about the most romantic date you went on last weekend? Painful. Sharing about how three different people asked you out that day? Bragging. Your new boo? Totally off limits. Plans to go out of town for that romantic getaway this weekend? Ummm. You get the idea. Every conversation is just a little more awkward because for every one thing you tell each other there seem to be a lot more you cannot share, or at least not share without a certain level of discomfort for one or both parties.
- That being said, jealousy occurs. If one of you is happily moving on and the other one of you is in some sort of bad-relationship-non-relationship-limbo, you can count on there being some jealousy towards the happier party. Tell yourself as much as you want that you want your ex to be happy (truly you do!), but we all can admit that we want to be happy as well. If not before them. If not happier than them. Because it’s totally a competition, right?
- You’ve seen each other naked. Since you can’t un-see that anymore than they can un-see you being naked, that’s always going to be a strange factor in your “friendship.”
- Lines are blurry, especially when first entering into a friendship with an ex. Familiar is easy, making it easy to fall back into the familiar. If you spend a lot of time with your ex, one or both of you could fall back into wanting the relationship to work romantically. After all, people don’t usually fall out of love and loving someone is certainly a step towards being romantically involved…again.
Obviously there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. If your relationship was short you might be able to make a friendship work. If your relationship didn’t resemble anything close to a fiery passion, you could be able to fizzle to a friendship. If a significant chunk of time has passed since the break up, you both find that you are not bitter about the way things played out, and you both have moved on in your respective love lives (and you are 100% supportive and happy that the other has done so), you might be able to be friends. Might.
All people are different and relationships are as unique as the individuals involved in them, but in most circumstances it is hard and downright awkward to transition from romantic partners to just friends. Maybe you and your ex are up to the challenge of friendship but in most cases it’s best to just take the memories and move on without each other.
#love #breakup #friendzone #dating #friendship #ex #heartbreak #truth