We’re not friends or enemies. Just strangers with some memories.

Being friends with exes, there’s no universal rule. Research has shown that maintaining contact with exes is pretty common, but the motives for wanting to maintain contact should be thought out carefully. I’ve personally never had any desire to remain friends with a man I broke off a relationship with. There’s a reason why I walked away and that reason still exists. It’s not that I’m bitter, it’s not that I can’t handle it, I have no beef or ill feeling towards any of the guys. It’s just that by the time I’m done with the relationship, I’m emotionally checked out, I have no care for it or them. I’m happy to move on and put things in the past. They’ve served their purpose and I already have enough friends.

When I’m investing time and effort with anyone, I’d like to see if there’s real value there. My friends are the people I turn to when I want to have chit chats about current affairs, work, family, TV shows, dating, sex, reminiscing the old days, etc. Having great friendships is enjoyable, effortless, there’s mutual respect and each individual holds a important place in my heart. With that said, the thought of exchanging these kind of conversations with exes and sharing my personal business with them doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. Reminiscing about the past? Giving them updates on who I’m dating? Nah, it doesn’t make sense to me.

What else makes me skeptical about the whole idea?

Truth is, one person is always a little more invested in the relationship than the other. In breakups, we have our egos challenged. These situations are never easy or nice to deal with on either side, the whole process is excruciating and exhausting. No matter what people say, it’s a challenge to go from loving words to no contact and awkwardness (it gets easier over time with more practice 😬) But I simply couldn’t think of anything worse than resorting to that cliché response of “let’s be friends” just to soften the blow after a break up. Offering friendship while the other party still has feelings for you is giving them false hope… and boy, do some exes clutch at the straws! Perhaps I’m a bit brutal but I’ve made an attempt to remain friends with an ex once! Unfortunately it wasn’t long until he started pissing me off with his inappropriate jokes and going on about the “good times” 🙄 — you can leave now.

In addition, I’ve always been someone who prefers to start off a new relationship with a clean slate, meaning no drama or baggage pulled in from the past. Hovering exes can be quite off-putting and let’s be real, it doesn’t really set the tone for a great start. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, many (insecure and jealous) people will use continued “friendship” to constantly compare themselves to the new partners in their ex’s life. A guy I once dated remained friends with his ex, and that ex would occasionally reconnect to ask silly questions about me 😒 I was not impressed. In instances like these, people tend to hang onto exes for the purpose of an occasional ego boost or to keep tabs on them.

Where new relationships are concerned, “friends with an ex” is tricky terrain. Letting your partner hang out one on one with a person they’ve previously had sexual and emotional history with? Having your partner’s ex call/text them at ungodly hours of the morning for a chat? Your partner getting sent birthday gifts and cards to the door from their ex? I mean… how would you feel about this? I know where I stand with those scenarios. And if your relationship started off romantically charged to begin with, then there is no friendship to really transition back to. Which was the case for all my previous relationships. Don’t get me wrong, if I bump into an ex, I’ll be civil but it’s never a case of “let’s go for a coffee one day!” Lastly, there are circumstances where staying on talking terms is necessary, for example, if you have kids together. You’d have to navigate some sort of friendship or at least have some form of communication there because it’s the right thing to do, even if there were feelings of hurt involved. 

Some of y’all are too liberal with the word “friend”… But that’s none of my business.

Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer with regards to being friends with an ex, it’s a choice you make as an individual. In my opinion, I believe there is a difference between “being on good terms” and “being friends”. If neither party has ulterior motives, and if the friendship doesn’t interrupt your current relationship then who knows, it may work. Although I’ve never heard of any success stories thus far. Either way, it’s important to have boundaries in place so that the past doesn’t interfere with the present. A good test is whether you’re comfortable hanging out with your current partner and your ex together, and whether your ex’s partner is comfortable with you. If you choose to stay friends with an ex, it might be worth asking yourself some important questions.

What are my motivations here?
Is this friendship truly feasible?
Can you be truly honest with each other?
Is this friendship fair to your current partner (if you have one)?
Is this friendship interfering with/delaying my recovery and emotional well-being?

Every individual is entitled to choose their own friends and live the way they feel comfortable. But things like this may have the ability to alter the dynamics of new relationships, so communication and understanding plays a vital role. Being entirely open and honest with each other will help relieve any worries/concerns as well as set the expectations early on.

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