Warning: naughty language ahead.
It would take a serious amount of prescription medicine or street drugs to equal the endorphin-fueled lunacy of: “Yeah, I could be friends with my ex.”
Granted, breaking up is hard to do. And reconfiguring a relationship (where sex, intimacy and daily commerce were the norms) back into a friendship is near impossible.
At the very least it takes a lot of time and at the most it takes prescription drugs and massive amounts of therapy.
As someone who agreed to break up, then fought it, and then acquiesced to friendship, I can say it is a painful battle to fight. No matter how many websites are out there telling us how bad it is to befriend an ex; there are an equal number talking about how to get your ex back.
A broken heart is like a broken compass. There is no way to find true north.
Further, healing a broken heart takes a massive amount of energy. After the shock wears off; coping mechanisms kick in. Not all coping mechanisms are made equal. In fact, some just plain suck.
The impetus to return to what is familiar because what is familiar is often paired with what is safe is a truly crappy coping mechanism. It is also the mechanism that has droves of dumpees on Facebook trying to formulate whimsical little messages to their exes showing they care but not too much.
“See how clever I am; so clever that they will fall in love with me again,” thinks the delusional post-break-up mind.
Another popular coping mechanism is playing it cool. Self-betrayal can be so subtle. Faking that everything is okay when it isn’t is not only coy, it’s self-deceptive. An attempt to be friends with an ex often means one party is taking advantage, while the other is still in love.
Love is a splendid thing. Friendship is essential for a joyful life. Sex is a wonderful thing. But mash those together in a perverted order and it creates emotional, physical, spiritual, mental and even sometimes financial turmoil.
(Preaching to the choir am I?)
The party that is still in love bears most of the burden. Anyone with a heart will feel a slight sting of remorse for having their relationship end but if they are happy to be single again—this is fleeting at best.
It takes a lot of guts to own up to what went wrong in a relationship and it takes serious balls to set and maintain clear and present boundaries after it has ended. It’s also imperative to repeat this phrase daily: “It ended and fuck the reasons.”
Boundaries must be set and have to be armed with mental border-patrol agents. If your ex, as mine so blithely did, tries to set boundaries by saying, “I will never marry you but I still want to be friends,” don’t take this as a mixed message. Instead, take a few deep breaths and start blocking them from your life like Pink Floyd putting another brick in the wall.
Give yourself the gift of space and time.
Returning to a broken relationship being broken or entering a new relationship being broken does nothing but set you up for more of the same. Trust that everything that is yours will always return—what was good at the time does not mean good for a lifetime. In other words, what does not grow together grows apart.
A strong relationship takes willingness, commitment and devotion. Now is the time to apply those elements to resurrecting your dreams and moving forward with grace.
A heart scorned needs time to mend. In the first year after a break-up talking to an ex can enliven old feelings, stir memories or give way to sexual encounters. Further, living in the past won’t do much to get you what you really want or actualize you to be the best version of yourself.
It is true that adults who have dated can be respectful and friendly to each other? Of course they can. But being friendly is different than being friends. It is a pretty simply formula: sex forever alters everything; especially friendship. Then again, so does time.
So, if you are hell bent on being the one person to prove the time-tested aphorism “Don’t be friends with your ex” wrong—good luck. It took Edison 600 times to create a functioning light bulb. If you have that kind of time to waste chasing around what was, by all means chase away. And your life is calling.
It might be a good idea stop being hung up on your ex and answer.
All that being said, being friends with your ex can be done once both of you are totally done with the ghost of relationship past. I don’t know of any priests that do that sort of exorcism.
Editor: Catherine Monkman