Asking For A Friend: Can Exes Still Be Friends?
Subject: Staying Friends With an Ex
One of our readers submitted this question/statement anonymously. Yep, just this and ... nothing else. My Love laughed when I told her this week's question because I have been in this position myself, a time or two or twenty, but who's counting?
Dear Ms. Friendly,
You can totally stay friends with an ex. The real question, "Is it a good idea to stay friends with an ex?"
I say yes, with exceptions.
Abusive/Toxic Relationships. This should go without saying, but it doesn’t because on average it takes seven times before a person leaves an abusive relationship for good. Whether the relationship was abusive or toxic, it is not in either parties best interest to attempt to be friends under these circumstances.
Here is a resource if you need assistance with getting out.
Here is a resource if you are hurting your partner and need help.
Continued sexual contact. Maybe you want to throw the whole person in the trash, except the stratospheric sex. Sis, trust me this is a complication you don’t need. Biologically speaking sexual intimacy creates attachment; and try as you might to convince yourself that you can just do the deed feelings free, those pesky suckers will creep in. Those feelings can show up as jealousy, anger, sadness, guilt, or shame and create confusion about where the friendship and relationship begin and end.
Unable to move on. Continued contact, communication, or an express inability to move on after an agreement to part ways undermines the creation of healthy space for the friendship. Whether it’s the fear of being alone, doing something new, or not wanting to hurt the other party, remaining friends when a clean break would be better is a recipe for disaster. In this scenario, one or both parties are not serving their best interest or honoring their needs. "Break" is the operative work in break-up, time to let go and move forward.
They Have No Interest in Being Friends. This one is almost self-explanatory. Whatever the reason: “I don’t want to just be your friend,” “I don’t like/love you anymore,” “I hate you.” Seriously, whatever the reason is don’t try to convince them otherwise, value yourself and honor their feelings.
But, if you’re going to do it…
If you are going to do it anyway loves, here are some things to consider:
Take some time apart. Yes, allow yourselves time for the closure of that relationship and don’t feel rushed to transition into the space of "everything is okay and we are friends now." There is a reason why you are exes so take time to really think about the why and what it is you really want. When you are both ready (be patient, it may not happen at the same time for the both of you) talk about what you both want and make sure you are on the same page, in the book to avoid confusion/conflict.
Are they really that great? Seriously, do you just have to have them in your life? Are they kindest, most loving, caring, supportive compassionate person you know? They make you laugh and they just get you and there is just no romantic chemistry… Would you play matchmaker and introduce them to someone else? If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, then keep that person and the friendship, great people are rare.
Be honest. Be honest about what you want, what you need, and what you feel. Having a friendship with someone who you have a certain level of familiarity can be a comfort and that is ok. Remaining friends with someone who may know you very well and more intimately can also foster a sense of accountability, because who’s gonna check you better than someone who know you best?
Whatever you decide to do, always do what is for your highest good and does no harm (or the least amount possible).
Do you want relationship or sex advice from Malaika? Ask your question anonymously here