Whenever a relationship ends, one part of the former pair insists on remaining friends, even if they don’t mean it, they somehow feel necessary to pretend that their now ex-partner will remain in their lives. But can we really be friends with our exes? Should we?

I don’t speak with the Big Ex; he cheated on me and broke my heart. My friends don’t lie to me, they don’t take advantage of me, and they don’t leave me crying on a couch wondering what I’ve done wrong. Sometimes relationships end amicably, sometimes two great people just realize that they don’t belong together and they go on to be great friends who once upon a time used to have hot sweaty naked time together. But more often than not, a break-up happens because of something more severe and at least one person is left with a broken heart and a bruised ego.

A couple of weeks ago I was out with a friend of mine who recently left his partner after two years; I asked him very calmly if he planned on being friends with her in the future or ever getting back together with her. I did this because you never know and what I had to say about this person could not be taken back; I then proceeded to use a four-letter word that happens to start with a ‘c.’ There were some other words that my inner feminist would not approve of, but sometimes you just need to get your feelings out and this self-righteous woman had all of it coming. That’s the most difficult part about being friends with an ex: once you’ve done something really terrible most friends have picked a side and if your behaviour was bad enough, that side likely isn’t yours. How can you ever be friends with someone when everyone who knew you together now thinks that you’re the worst kind of person for one reason or another?

Boyfriend and I are at the point in our relationship where we have a lot of mutual friends. My pals are becoming his and I love that, but if we broke up tomorrow, it’s easy enough to know who would pick my side and who would pick his. After a break-up, terrible things are said, tears are shed and promises are made; but it’s your best friends who hear the absolute worst about your former love and asking them to just forget about all the bad things is asking the impossible.

Maybe the couples who end things happily knowing that they’ve made the right choice can be friends, but there are some things that once said can’t be taken back; there are some things that once done can never be undone and as a result – friendship is impossible. Let’s all stop kidding ourselves and admit that being friends with an ex is almost as bad as sleeping with an ex; it’s never going to end well and someone is almost always going to have unrealistic expectations.

Follow Shannon on Twitter at @Shananigans.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Nus Reply

    Love the post, but I must respectfully disagree with the conclusion.

    I think that the possibility of being friends successfully depends largely on the type of people and circumstances in the relationship.

    Of course, if someone cheats, there’s pretty much no coming back from that, but barring the obvious breach of trust scenarios, what if two people must move away geographically or just plain realize that they are not compatible as a long term couple? I am still friends to this day with one ex-girlfriend in particular. We keep in touch regularly and talk about anything. Nothing is off limits because we have always been honest with each other. When I am in her neck of the woods I make it a point to visit her, but I do not take that as an opportunity to make a move. I respect her. Our decision to split was a mix of circumstance and a mature, healthy acceptance that it was the right thing to do. I still love her very much, but the love too has evolved and it’s something much better like the way I love close friends, like you.

    I’ve learned that romantic relationships are certainly the next step in any friendship but that doesn’t mean that ending the romantic part should be seen as a step backwards. I think it’s an evolution into what is meant to be ultimately.

    I think it’s kind of nuts that once one becomes a significant other, a clock starts ticking backwards that, when it reaches zero (break up), you can no longer have that person in your life – as if you’ve used up all your good will for that person and any good things have been conditional based on the assumption that a romantic interchange is what fuels it all.

    At the core of it all you have to ask yourself the hard “look-in-the-mirror” question of what it really was that you and your ex shared that made you a couple. If the hard answer is mostly the sex, then friendship post partum is indeed hard. But if that person was also your good friend during the relationship and really “gets” you then a friendship can certainly blossom, as long as you are both mature enough to accept the new state of affairs. I mean you watch HIMYM, right? 🙂

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