exes

Some Relationships Are Meant to be Friendships

Have you ever looked back at a past lover and thought ‘we should have just been friends’? I have, often. I don’t mean that in a negative way. I don’t mean that I’ve wondered ‘what was I thinking, we should have never dated’. I simply mean that some relationships are meant to be friendships.

Sometimes you meet people and there is an instant connection. You date them, because that seems to be the natural progression and for whatever reason, things end. You fall out of love. But that doesn’t mean you stop loving them altogether.

That ongoing love can be terrible or terrific. It can result in a heartbreak you struggle to get over, or it can give you a new lease on your relationship. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been really lucky with that ongoing love and that you definitely shouldn’t always stay friends once a relationship has ended. Everyone has to do what’s right for them.

That said, of the people I’ve dated, I now consider two of them best friends. Not just ‘we’re still Facebook friends and attend each other’s birthdays’ type friends, but actual best friends.

One of these best friends of mine has wisely answered the ever asked “why do you stay friends with an ex?” in the most simple and logical way. He said, “you spend all that time getting to know someone and you obviously enjoyed hanging out with them, why throw it all away?” I re-use his explanation all the time.

The people I have dated are still some of my favourite people in the world. They are people I trust with my life, people I know will look out for me, people who have seen me at my most crazy and know all my bad habits and still choose to be my friend. There is this unconditional love. They know more about me than most of my other best friends. They aren’t afraid to call me on my bullshit because they know I’ll still love them afterwards, and vice versa. It’s a unique relationship. It’s one I’m really grateful for.

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Can Ex Equal Friend?

This blog was created for me by an ex for my birthday (as you can see by the previous post – the one he wrote to me that didn’t feel right to delete). To some of you this may seem odd. To me, that’s just how he is. It was a lovely gesture and of course very thoughtful but honestly I wouldn’t expect any less from this former love. He’s always been thoughtful and I’m sure he will always continue to be. We split in May of this year and are trying to stay friends. So far it’s going okay, but remaining friends with an ex is a minefield of emotional drama which most people will tell you to avoid at all costs.

I am not one of those people.

I’m one of the others, one who believes you actually can be friends with someone post split. I believe that just because you didn’t make it as a couple, doesn’t mean you can’t make it as friends. However, there are some variables that need to be considered for this equation to work.

Firstly, you need to both want to remain friends. It won’t work if one of you wants friendship and the other gets a kick out of dreaming up scenarios where your car brakes ‘accidently’ fail and you end up nose diving off a cliff. If the split ended badly, if it looked like an episode of Jerry Springer and there was screaming and the throwing of Valentine’s presents/china wear/refrigerators involved, or if one of you slept with the other’s best friend/sibling/pet, then it’s best for both parties if you just call it quits. Do you really want to stay friends with someone who thinks the worst of you and fantasises about your death? I didn’t think so.

Secondly, you need time apart. By this I mean at least one month without talking to each other. No phone calls, no txts, no Facebook comments. In fact, avoid their Facebook page altogether. Trying to jump straight from relationship to friendship without a break in between is a horrible idea. It should be avoided at all costs. You need time to get over each other. I know it’s hard to see someone you love/d struggling and it’s even worse if you’re the reason for it. However, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received when it comes to relationships is that you can’t help someone through your own breakup. From experience, I can tell you it will end in one of two ways;
1) With the two of you falling back into old habits and back into bed or,
2) With one of you wishing you’d fall back into old habits and being disappointed when you don’t.
Scenario 2 also has the added bonus for the person not wanting to get back together feeling guilty knowing their ex does. What a great bonus! Knowing you are the reason your ex is unhappy while trying to remain friends isn’t fair for anyone. Give it some time.

Thirdly, you can’t get jealous. Oh, you can be jealous. Jealous if they move on quicker than you think they should, or move on to someone hotter/funnier/richer. But you can’t get jealous. You can’t show that you’re jealous. You have no right to be after all, you’re no longer together. Being the jealous ex only makes you pathetic, crazy, or annoying. Not exactly good traits, are they? From the other end of the spectrum, you also can’t brag. Bragging about your new squeeze only makes you mean spirited. Friends don’t do that to each other. In fact, if the wound is still healing, it’s probably best to steer clear of conversation about new relationships altogether.

Fourthly (and this one is optional, but also the best remedy for staying friends in my opinion), find someone new. It is a lot easier to be around an ex if you’ve moved on. Having someone else clarifies any uncertainty that the two of you might be getting back together (in any capacity). It helps erase any lingering sexual desires because you are now focusing those desires on someone else. It puts into perspective the true nature of your old relationship as you now have something new to compare it to, rather than romanticizing and placing your ex on a pedestal that they may or may not deserve. Plus, you’re now single and meeting new people is fun!

I’m happy to say I’m still friends with someone I dated five years ago. And I hope the same can be said in five years time about my latest former love. When it comes to ex’s, I believe time can heal all.