It’s Over! Can We Be Friends?

Doing the Post-Breakup Dance

It’s over—can you still be friends? Songs, poems, and movie plots hash out this question over and over, and sometimes it seems like a fair option. However, in the real world, unless you have the emotional balance of a Taoist monk, you might want to think about this question very carefully.

That’s not to say that every breakup has to be all-out war. Parents who end their marriage, but who have children to raise, have to find a centered path that allows them to share those children without animosity. Co-workers who, heaven forbid, have an affair and end it must find some middle ground. Either someone has to hit the unemployment lines, or they must at least be civil.

Many couples share close mutual friends. When the breakup comes, it’s not unusual for the friends to sort of choose up sides, hanging with one of the partners and avoiding the other. But it’s not unusual to find friends don’t want to have to choose – they socialize with both and fully expect the couple to keep their cool.

There are all kinds of life situations that put broken couples face-to-face for some event or some period of time, and we all know how difficult that can be. Most of us carry baggage around long after a relationship is finished. Watching an ex flirt, or party, or even just have a terrific time without us can range from distressful to intensely painful. Learning who we are outside the construct of a long-term relationship is a steep curve.

Putting yourself in close proximity to an ex is pretty often not a great idea. There are people who have done it effectively—no harm, no foul. Think of how many couples have reunited after a period of time has gone by. If you feel you’re centered, have strong self-confidence, and your self esteem didn’t suffer from the breakup, remaining casual friends could work.

Think about these things:

1. How much did it hurt to return his or her things after the breakup?
2. Did you keep some of those things because you couldn’t bear to part with them?
3. Do you ask people what your ex is doing, if he or she is dating?
4. Every time your phone rings, do you jump for it, feeling sure it’s him or her deeply regretting the breakup?

If you answered “oh, Lord, yes” to any of those questions, post-breakup friendship is probably not going to make you feel good about yourself and about life in general. In various surveys, most respondents say being friends is not their goal. It’s goodbye, sayonara, see you around. If you have all that energy to attempt a true friendship with an ex, why not devote your energy to building a new and lasting relationship that works for both of you?

I read somewhere that having your ex say, “It’s over, but we can still be friends” is a lot like hearing your mom say, “Your dog is dead, but you can still keep him.” Yes, that puts things in a really harsh light, but reality can be harsh, and is that the reality you truly want?

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4 thoughts on “It’s Over! Can We Be Friends?

  1. Cammie

    I dont know if i should call it a breakup cause we were already broke up and friends until i slept with a guy he know. Oops!! now its a break up for real or maybe he’ll get over it and and be my friend again. Guess he still had feeling he was afraid to show after calling it quits twice before. What i now want is the sex partner to also remain my friend and not branch off after tellin my ex we had hott,good,sweet,sex. I wonder how did he tell him? I kinda think they plotted that now im looking like a whipped buzzard. If i get a choice (hopefully) id keep the sex partner.

  2. David C. Leipold

    After 22 years of marriage, raising kids and working toward a future I thought I would have at 50, my wife decided at 40 that she’d missed her 20’s and divorced me. The tremendous grief & pain I have felt over this is ongoing and although after almost 2 years I have, for the most part, adjusted, I still have my occasional bad days. And……I still love her.

    The last thing I’d want to do is watch my ex with someone else, having a great time. We are cordial, at best. We will always have to attend our kids’ weddings and other family gatherings from time to time and I can’t foresee a time when it won’t be uncomfortable for me.

    Perhaps the only remedy for me is to find another woman who lights my fire. Perhaps the only way to get over the woman that is my ex is to get over another woman, so to speak.

  3. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Usually after a decent amount of space and time…..

    …..some, but not all, can go back to being just friends… all depends on the circumstances and people involved.

    But if it hurts too much…..maybe it is better to move on….afterall, why wallow in misery?

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500


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