Is Friendship Possible After A Break Up?
Let us first dispense with the obvious response to this question. No, it doesn’t depend on whether you parted on good or bad terms. You may have broken with a girl because you found that in the end the two of you had little in common. The split may have been amicable and friendly. But if your interests and attitudes diverged as a couple, they will not in the aftermath bring you together as friends.
On the other hand, you may have ended the relationship because one or the other of you cheated or because of constant bickering over trivial domestic matters. None of this is grounds for ending all contact with your ex. It may only mean that the kind of relationship you had was not workable.
You should also avoid saying “we can still be friends” during or after the break up. Uttering this worthless canard is especially tempting if the break up is one that is mutually desired. When people say this their intention is to be dignified and civilized in dealing with someone with whom they’ve shared intimate moments. They do not want to coldly cut the person from their life. Friendship, however, cannot be forged by the will to be polite. It must be based on spontaneity of emotion and feeling and can only evolve through nurturing and instinct.
Even if you genuinely wish to be friends with your ex, you should face the fact that you will not be so straightaway. You need time apart. You will want to enjoy a largeness of freedom that the shadow of your ex will make impossible. She, no doubt, will want to reflect on and cope with the break up in her own way.
Most ex-couples travel in the same social circles. This makes it easier to establish a friendship, but it can also make the adjustment period after the break up difficult. You want to set up boundaries early. Although you’ve been swapping bodily fluids with her for a period of months, the separation revokes your right to know the intimate details of her life. You should avoid, at least for a while, talk about the state of your post-break up love life; and do caution her to avoid the same.
If friendship is your aim, you must resist the temptation for post-break up sex. This will perhaps be the hardest thing to do. For both of you, getting back into the groove of dating will be filled with frustration and setback. Your urge for sex will nevertheless continue to grow. Going back to her or her falling back on you for sex is not an uncommon way to deal with such a situation. Whatever your other problems, you probably know each other well when it comes to lovemaking. Neither awkwardness nor fear nor nervousness exists between you, and this makes the path back into her panties much smoother. Don’t do it. Sleeping together will only confuse things even more, making the road to friendship rockier than it has to be.
When answering the question that forms the title of this article, you should challenge yourself: why do you want to be friends with your ex? If it is not out of gentlemanly courtesy, peer pressure, or societal expectation, then it must come down to some great quality you see in her. That is certainly a sound basis for pursuing a friendship. Perhaps you feel that you can tell her anything or that she is a decent and forthright person who will always tell you the truth.
If this is the case, then you must be prepared to let go of certain expectations you had of her when the two of you were together. You must be willing to set the relationship on completely different grounds. This will take time. We cannot change the way we see people over night. But in due course you will start to speak again, and this may lead to one of the best friendships you will ever have.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.