Wed | Jan 19, 2022

Let’s stay friends?

Published:Monday | March 18, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Here’s something so many never really talk about. Once all has been said and done and the relationship is over, do you remain friends?

We’ve seen it explored in a couple of movies, where the partner who’s leaving tries to soften the blow of the break-up by encouraging both parties to go down the friendship road. But let’s be honest. In that particular moment, the last thing you want to do is be amicable with someone who has hurt you.

So, stepping into the real world, is being just friends with an ex-lover actually possible? Some may argue that it is not. If you stay in the relationship for too long and it becomes so toxic that you can’t recover, then it may result in you being too bitter. And there’s no way of salvaging any camaraderie in that light.

On the flip side, if there are many unanswered questions and you both become a little too close for comfort, you may resort to becoming ‘friends with benefits’, and that will be sure to muddy the water.

Here’s a reality check: It’s not practical to move from one point to the other. Your adjustment time can take longer than others’. It depends on the emotional upheaval leading up to the split. Don’t expect a smooth transition to happen overnight. Pace yourself. Get your mental health in check before you make any sudden movements back down a familiar street.

So how do you shift from ex to friend? Admitting culpability is the number-one way of speeding up that process significantly. Healing, letting go, and realising that it just wasn’t meant to be is another. Once you’ve crossed that threshold, then you can embark on a new path to friendship.

ExEs and Boundaries

What happens when your ex moves on and you’re still a special friend in his or her life? Now that’s a tricky one. There’s no real answer for that. Couples have opted to lie all together by omitting the fact that this specific friend is, in fact, an ex. Opening up that portal and sharing that kind of background information can be intimidating to a new love.

There’s also the option of being completely transparent with your new significant other, confessing that even though that relationship is over, your ex stills plays a vital role in your life. And it can become beneficial to the new union, because the other half can gather intel. Some new partners actually grow to form friendships with those exes and even place the ex’s name on the wedding guest list.

Many people find that they make better friends than partners. You tend to appreciate people more in retrospect; once you take out all the emotions, you can focus on the good. And you’re also able to just tell it like it is because of the history you share. A relationship that evolves from romance to another chance, as friends, can become much deeper and long-lasting.

So, after a break-up, just breeze out for a bit and see where life takes you. But don’t knock staying friends until you’ve tried it.