A Discussion on Being Friends with an Ex
Here is an archive thread from the early days of SYBD on they hotbed topic: being friends with an ex.
Hands up, who’s tried to be friends with an ex? It’s hard isn’t it? It is when you want more than they do…So today is a discussion about the joys and more often the pitfalls of trying to have a friendship with an ex. Instead of just taking my thoughts, opinions and warnings on the topic, I have taken the experiences of dumpees who shared on our forum in 2005 (mostly unedited).
My bf dumped me about 3 weeks ago, out of the blue and with no explanation. Well, not a suitable one in my opinion! He said, “I don’t know why I broke up with you, but I know it was the right thing to do”. He wants to be friends, so I went to see a movie with him (new ‘Batman’ – very good!), anyway it was really hard. I said that I don’t think I can be his friend because I don’t understand why we broke up and will not be able to move on without a clean break. I made him cry when I said that! I’m just confused about the friend situation. I mean, if you can be friends with somebody, still love them, miss them, have shared interests, similar world views and the same aspirations then why not a relationship? What exactly changes if you stay friends? This is a rambling message, isn’t it? Sorry about that but I have so many thoughts spinning in my head.
It’s because a lot of people don’t want to be the bad guy. If the person wants to stay friends it’s because he wants to reassure himself that he’s a good person, and if you stay friends with him he’ll think that you’re ok with what happened. I think you ought to tell him that you think it’s nice that he wants to stay friends but that you need time away from him to decide if it’s really the right thing for you. Maybe some day it will, but in the meantime you’ll have a hard time moving on if you still hang out with him. Don’t worry if your decision upsets him – he clearly didn’t have a problem breaking up with you. And no, wanting to be friends does NOT mean that he wants to get back together – he just doesn’t want to feel guilty for what he did. You’ve gotta do the NC thing for your own personal recovery.
Fluffy, my situation was somewhat similar to yours. My boyfriend dumped me 6 weeks ago and he didn’t give me a good explanation. On top of that he still asked for friendship and asked me to stick to our plan (to pay him a visit during my holidays). I was so devastated and for a moment I thought he REALLY didn’t have a heart. It was as though things were so damn easy on his side – to switch from a couple to mere friends in one minute’s time. Anyway, he continued to send me messages and called me up and asked how I was doing, how I was coping with everything bla bla bla…All of which I didn’t answer. I just didn’t know how to be his friend. I honestly felt he was the most inconsiderate jerk I’ve ever met (he’s gotta get dumped to know how it feels). Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I replied one of his messages – to tell him off. I was rather harsh but there was no swearing, no ‘yelling’ whatsoever. He replied and said why I had to be so hard on everything, why I was so rude (which left me even more puzzled…I mean, COME ON! He acted as though I was the dumper..! ). After that he apologized for being mad and every now and then he writes to my friend and asks about me etc. He left me messages and said how he really treasured our relationship and friendship, how he really cared for me (he described it as ‘the one thing that will never change’), how he regretted for giving up so easily, how I still had a special place in his heart, how things had gotten more difficult for him each day.. I really don’t know if he was sincere about the relationship/friendship but honestly, ever since i stopped talking to/replying him, i’ve started to care less and less about ‘us’. I have a gut feeling that he was doing these all out of guilt, and that he just couldn’t bear carrying the weight of fright with him every day and night — and perhaps the only way to lift the weight off his chest a bit is by being friends with me again. The way he talked could sometimes be really confusing (e.g. ‘is he trying to get us back together?’) and i really hated mind-guessing his thoughts — nowadays i just don’t do that anymore. I keep telling myself he is out of my system – his self-pity is really none of my business. He had hurt me more than i could ever imagine and that’s more than enough for me to handle. Of course, i loved him a lot a lot and maybe i still do, but i’ve chosen to put it at the back of my mind and it takes A LOT of time to do that. The only way is to ignore him completely. Don’t reply him. Don’t talk to him. Don’t see him. It helps. Really. It’s about you now.
This is just what I needed to read tonight. My ex-boyfriend of five weeks has been calling me every day this past week, wanting to hang out, wanting to chat. I finally gave in tonight and we went to Walmart and walked around just like we always used to. I thought I’d be able to handle it gracefully and seem “cool” about being friends, but I ended up crying. It was awful. When he dropped me off at my house, he said, “Do you need to talk about this?” and all of the sudden I just calmly said, “No, we have nothing left to talk about. We can’t hang out anymore…it’s not good for me.” and tripped out of his car crying like an idiot. Perhaps it was a rather embarrassing moment that will cause me to blush now and again, but I think it’s for the best that this happened tonight. Now after reading the other posts here, I’m sure I did the right thing. He’s just trying to make himself feel less guilty about lying to me, leading me on…crushing me. Bastard. Anyway, thanks guys.
FluffyMcFluff: Jul 28 2005 08:26
Thanks for replying guys. I have to say that it’s not what I wanted to read, but I know you’re being honest and you’re all probably right. YOU CAN’T BE FRIENDS WITH AN EX STRAIGHT AFTER A BREAK UP…It is too hard to immediately downshift from lover to friend…it is. No way no how should you do so. I know it’s hard losing the lover best friend and confidante all in one…but god isn’t being right next to the one person you love more than anything – and yet you can’t have them – WORSE? It’s pure torture as a few of you have said…Worse yet you end up kissing or sleeping together and it doesn’t miraculously get you back together and you just end up feeling hurt, betrayed or used! Better to make a clean break and resume that friendship once that desire to be more has past. Course by then you wont want to be friends with them probably! Or you may both be moved on and it would be less appropriate… Anyhow they want to be friends with you sometimes out of guilt but sometimes because they freakin’ like you. The enjoy your company…and don’t want to give up that. And hey who could blame them… ….but, again, when they want to be friends – they generally MEAN IT…despite how much we would like to persuade them to the contrary.
chasing_rainbows: Jul 28 2005 12:03
And also, I guess it’s got a bit to do with the dumpers’ ego (that’s what I heard from a good friend of mine who dumped a girl only to regret later on). See, if someone dumps you, and instantly wants to shower you with care and even asks you out, it WILL somehow prove to the world that he’s good at heart and that everything he did was totally out of his control (i.e. he didn’t mean to hurt you, didn’t mean to fall out of love etc). And when his friends ever ask about you, he’ll conveniently answer, “Oh, we broke up, you know, but we’re still good friends and i still care about her.” Doesn’t that seem a lot ‘guilt-free’ than saying ‘Oh, we broke up but we never talked to each other again.” or “How I must have hurt her…”? Another thing, I find most dumpers (mine included) like to fall into this self-blame hole by constantly reassuring you that it’s their fault not yours, and it’s their mistakes and not yours, and that you’re totally great and you did absolutely nothing wrong. My friend was one of those guys who acted that way and he did learn the hard way to finally realise his mistakes. See, when they’re constantly blaming themselves, it DOESN’T necessary mean that they’re trying to patch things up or they want to be with you again. Most dumpers, at this point of time (post-break up), get enlightened by the fact of the things they have done, and would definitely, by human nature, try to cover up. They would then resolve to self blame and express this to you as in most cases that breaking up was not your fault, and it was all theirs. This is a paradox, you still feel the pain, whereas they may not, and by channelling all the blame onto themselves (who in actual fact may be feeling nothing at all), they think that you may feel a lot calm down, and that would, once they know it, help them to carry on with their lives and get along with a new line of stuffs easily and eagerly. Again I’m not saying all dumpers are similar in every way. Some may truly care but most don’t. I’d say don’t risk your precious time. Just move on with your life.
FluffyMcFluff: Jul 28 2005 12:06
I was thinking that perhaps by being friends, my boyfriend would see the mistake he’s made and we’d get back together. He said he wanted us to be “good friends who hang out a lot”. This is just my desperation and panic, isn’t it? Does that sort of thing ever happen? What I would really appreciate from him is an honest answer to why we broke up instead of cliches which mean nothing. I could get some closure that way. The answers I get from him are so pointless that it makes me wonder if even he knows why we broke up. Being their friend to prove your worth and WIN them back is the biggest myth on SYBD…I would say it almost NEVER works…and all it serves to do is hurt, frustrate and be-little you. I would just assume he likes you and finds you attractive he just doesn’t see you as someone he wants as a long term partner. My guess is he has no idea why he ended it or lost feelings for you (assuming he ever even had them). It’s harsh. It bites. I am six years down the road from my story (in the ex files) and I am none-the-wiser why he fell out of love with me and into it with someone else. The only time I ever really see people work it out – is when they take a longer break (eg more than six months) during which time they’ve both sorted some things in their own lives and possibly even dated other people. but no I suspect the only thing being friends with your ex, at the moment, is gonna hurt, frustrate and confuse you. You’ll probably end up snogging or in bed and realise it’s not changed a thing. Take your power back and say you can’t right now. It’s gonna drive him mental…Dumpers HATE it when we refuse to be their pal.
In Conclusion: What do you think?
Are you friends with your ex? Is it possible? What are you thoughts on the subject? Let me know in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy our recent posts, start with part one: So You Think You’re Over it?
And check out this animated tutorial by yours truly over on Youtube: Can exes be friends?