Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A classic.

Alright. Not to go all When Harry Met Sally on you, but I have a question.

Is it possible to be friends with your ex?

I've debated it and mulled it over countless times. Obviously a great deal depends on the individual and the kind of relationship you had. I won't pretend that we can agree on a blanket rule here. But overall, is it possible to really and truly be friends with an ex?
I always say that I am friends with my exes. It's worn like a badge of honor while my friends hiss and spit at the mere thought of men they've dated. Ladies, I've done the impossible...we've broken up but maintained a friendship! Congratulate me! I will also freely admit that I say it with an air of superiority; a smugness that I felt I had earned by being the most freaking awesome ex-girlfriend in history. I'm like the "cool mom" but probably a lot more annoying.

However, recent developments have caused me to reexamine my relationships with exes under a harsher light. Ideally, being friends with an ex would consist of both parties maintaining the friend feelings while moving past any romantic notions, right? But what if one party hasn't moved past that? Does that count? And what about the exes you never really speak to? You know, the ones you catch up with on birthdays. It definitely fits into the friendship category...but is that a friendship to be proud of? (And by proud I mean obnoxiously boastful.)

I'll maintain that I am friends with my ex boyfriends. But it's not your average friendship--it gets a whole new category. It's different. Perhaps I will stop wearing my "World's Greatest Ex Girlfriend" t-shirt. (The back says, "No, seriously. Let's have a beer while you ask for my advice on your new girlfriend.")

So, kids, I ask you. Can you really and truly be friends with an ex?


Brianne said...

i think this is what i struggle with the most. before my ex and i dated, we were really good friends. best friends even. and then we dated, and then he screwed me over, and now...

i try to have a friend switch. if he needs to talk to me or whatever, i try to switch that friend mode on. but when it veers into advice on his ex-girlfriends, or complaining about his ex-girlfriends, or whining about shit that somehow could be related to our relationship it makes me hang up the phone.

i think that the deciding factor on being friends with an ex is determined on the breakup. if it's an amicable break up, why not. if it's a break up where you and the rest of the world finds out on facebook through trashy photos with a trashy, barely legal ho?

well...yeah. i don't even know why i'm trying.

Amy Stegner said...

No. Plain and simple.

PS you're welcome for the insight! ;)

Anonymous said...

Do you want someone as a friend that's only using the friendship as a way to rekindle the relationship? How can you trust that person knowing they have ulterior motives? What if that person is you? How do you think your ex will feel knowing that you're only using the friendship as a means to an end?

On the other hand. You can really and truly be friends with an ex. In fact, some couples find they get along better as friends more so than as anything else.

So. If you find yourself in an honest friendship with the ex, then more power to you. If you, or the ex, are using the friendship for something else, then is probably best to end the "friendship" before someone gets hurt.

My take, anyway, for what it's worth.

Amanda said...

Brianne: Haha yeah, I'm not sure that's a friendship worth saving. Not that I'm really in a position to judge--but we all know I will anyway. I think you're right about the state of the breakup itself. Mine have all been pretty chill, which is probably part of the reason things have gone the way they have for me.

Amy: Yes, thanks so much. I wouldn't be friends with an ex after a breakup like yours, though.

Anon: Valid questions. I wonder, though, does the same hold true for friends you haven't dated who have feelings for you? Or vice versa? Is it still dishonest? Or is it different because you don't have a past with them? (Yet.)

Anonymous said...

Would only be dishonest if both people in the friendship agree that "this is just a friendship." If there's no agreement, then there's nothing dishonest about pursuing a friend.

Kelly Renman said...

Is the question: Can you be friends with your ex? Or is the question: Can you be friends with your ex without any complications from previously dating or wanting to date again? I make no attempt to answer the first. The answer to the second is a resounding "No".

Some may say that you can be friends without complications because both people are matural adults who can move beyond the past. I, however, say that there will always be at least some awkwardness or complication because both members are mature adults.

So what does it mean to be an adult? An adult is a person who is capable of caring for those around and who seeks reconcilition of broken relationships. This manifests itself relationships with family; children can be reunited to parents after years of fighting. It manifests itself with friendships. High school reunions may be a shallow example, but still an example. This principle also manifests itself with exs. Isnt that the premise of "Its Complicated"?

Furthermore, the human heart was not designed to reverse the falling in love process. Why does falling in love feel like the most natural thing in the world? Because it is good and right that one person would seek and desire the good and well-being of a mate.

Scientifically, if you will, that love emotion represents the lowest Entropy. To undo those emotions requires adding energy to the system to prevent returning to that state. This energy must be added At. All. Times. Ugh. A moment of weakness? Its complicated. He gets over you first and starts dating someone else? Its complicated.

There's a lot more to my explaination that what I wrote here, but I'll keep it brief. There may be a few holes in the presentation, but its because I tried to simplify. If you want the full discussion ever, just let me know.