To be friends, or not to be friends, that is the question. And it’s a tough, tricky question to answer.
I mean, sometimes the answer is ultimately a no-brainer, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy decision to come to. Personally, a no-brainer would be if an ex treated me badly. If you were in any sort of abusive relationship, whether it was mental, physical or emotional, I would hope that being friends with your ex isn’t even a consideration.
But, what about when the relationship was good and it just didn’t work out? What if he was a really nice guy, but when you thought about your future, he wasn’t the one standing next to you? Every relationship, and every ending is going to be different, because no two couples are the same. What the two of you do afterwards is completely up to you.
If one of you wants this, and the other doesn’t, the friendship won’t work. Eventually awkwardness will set in and the friendship will fall apart, just like the relationship.
Spend time apart first
Don’t jump into a friendship immediately after breaking up. It’s going to confuse both of you as to the roles you’re playing, and truthfully, you need to be over one another romantically before you can support each other in a friendship capacity, which brings us to number 3…
If you’re going to be friends, make sure that’s all you are
Don’t roll your eyes at me, you know it’s true. Getting intimate with your ex will only result in one thing; complication. It’ll take everything you accomplished during your time apart and make it come crashing down on you. The progress you made in the moving on stage will disappear and you’ll be back at square one, having wine nights with the girls and questioning whether or not you really should’ve broken up with him because, “he’s not such a bad guy.” Don’t do that to yourself. There’s a reason (or reasons) you broke up, don’t take one step forward, two steps back.
If you do this, commit to it
If you and your ex decide to try being friends, and it’s working out at first, you need to commit to it the way you did with the rest of your friendships. Sure, have fun and hang out, but you need to support each other as well. If he’s having a bad day and wants to talk, listen, because if one of your girl friends called to do the same thing, you know you’d be on the phone with her for hours. And this support has to extend into when one or both of you begins a new relationship. He should support and be friendly with your new guy, and you need to do the same when a new girl enters his life. Be warned, if you find yourself jealous of her, you can’t stand her for “no good reason,” or, you know she doesn’t like you, then it’s time to consider backing away, and ending the friendship. Sure, you’re going to miss him, and I’ll bet he’ll miss you too, but the new love interests in both of your lives should never feel like they’re coming in second to an old flame; it’ll ruin the new relationship.
What else would you add to this list of things to consider before friend-zoning it with your ex?
Alyssa’s story – I stayed friends with an ex for a little over a year after our initial breakup. We talked regularly, were supportive of what the other was doing, and remained upfront and honest with each other. When he started seeing someone new it wasn’t a problem for me (partly because I was living in another state) and I was happy for him.
Their relationship ended before I moved back to the area, and when I returned, we began a nice friendship. My first year back, I couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving, so his family invited me over, and having his familiar type of support in my life was comforting.
Towards the end of that year though, he started seeing someone else. She was nice enough, but from the moment I met her, I got the feeling that she wasn’t going to be my biggest fan. As time went on, the feeling grew and I knew me being around made her uncomfortable.
As much as I didn’t want to give him up as a friend, I began backing off, until I ultimately faded out of the picture.