Friends with the Ex: A Tale of Smoke and Mirrors

Men and women alike have endeavored to be “friends” after the demise of a relationship. Friendship with the ex, also known as the “consolation” prize, is an offering of mere civility, not to be confused with actual friendship.  The tenuous arrangement holds the door open for unresolved feelings, awkwardness, and general confusion if one person, or both, is not over the relationship.  This is especially messy if the relationship ended without closure as a result of dishonesty, acts of omission, protection of feelings, or etc.

I repeat friendship WILL NOT work if there are prominent lingering feelings. I’m not speaking of those passing feelings of fondness. I’m referring to thinking, obsessing, ruminating on what was, what could’ve been, and what it isn’t. Friendship after a relationship only works if both parties have MOVED ON.

I’ve heard the maudlin tales of my friends’ friendship with their exes. I’ve even got my own. The talking from time to time, maybe once out of the month, about myopic conversations that could’ve been saved for Facebook walls or your diaries. The “just checking up” on you call is just you crossing their mind, not a play by play of the lost relationship. Sometimes it’s just, I’m bored and I have no one to talk to and I know you’ll talk to me. It’s ego.

If you find yourself in a position where your creating music video scenes of the day you’ll get back together, dreaming the same dream every night, or maintaining a vigil on their Facebook page of what’s going on in their lives, chances are your friendship is not a friendship. Friends actually know what’s going on in each other’s lives without the use of social media. Friends spend time together. Friends talk on the phone. Friends include you. Now, you might be saying, I know my “friend” and they’re busy or absentminded, or are superheroes. Fantastic! Last time I checked though, inconsistency was never a good thing. If they knew how to make contact once before, they’re capable enough to do it again. It’s possible you just no longer warrant consistent behavior.

This dynamic just leads to a mess of feelings. Your life should be about self-preservation, so don’t worry if you seem bitter. Generally, people who don’t want to hold themselves accountable for their own actions will come up with excuses for your behavior. If it hasn’t affected the price of gas or rendered your degree null and void, who gives a damn. Put an end to this pseudo-friendship and take care of you. By end, I don’t mean announcing the friendship is over. POINTLESS, and also seeking attention. Your “friend” is not contacting you enough to resemble a friend, so why bother announcing the “fake” friendship’s end.

You need to give yourself time to really move on in order to be friends with your ex. You’ll know if you feel that consistent pang in your heart. You’ll know if you’re extra excited about a corny knock-knock joke from your ex. You’ll know. So don’t play yourself, especially if you had a bad breakup. If they didn’t treat you great as a partner, how on earth can they treat you great as a friend? Understandably, the line is blurry when you didn’t have some blowup that led to a parting of ways. Regardless, refer to the previously stated indications that you just might not be over it, and don’t mindfcuk yourself. Silence is perfectly all right while you’re healing.

There may be the rare few of you who have the ability to make attempts at a genuine friendship, only to find out that the other person’s idea of friendship, or their handling of it does not resemble such. This may lead to a recognition of (a) you might not be as over it as you thought you were, (b) your friendship is really a consolation prize depriving you of the opportunity to really process the end, (c) the friendship was just a way to hold the door open (one foot in and one foot out), or (d) all of the above.

So what was the moral of the story here? Oh right. You’re friends? But not really…


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