Six Reasons You Shouldn't Be Friends With An Ex
The Debrief: You're NOT over it and they WILL let you down. Seriously, don't go there.
Over the bank holiday weekend, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were spotted hanging out and being best mates despite the whole divorce thing. Not only is this admirable, it’s also the opposite of what you should aim for after having scream-dumped someone.
Don’t model yourself on the author of Goop magazine and a guy who sings about birds and clocks, because they’re obviously going to be the sort of people who transcend petty things like ‘raw emotion’ and ‘awkwardness’.
For us normal people, being friends with an ex often isn’t a viable option – despite the fact we lie to yourselves and say it really, really is. When do you stop trying to impress them with your life story to show that them dumping you didn’t even matter at all? Why is it always consistently awkward? Why waste a precious night of socialling with someone you a) don’t actually know any more and b) once ran down the road after with no shoes on while snotting on yourself?
That level of intensity doesn’t just disappear into the ether; it turns into a bizarre sort of tension that either isn’t sexual, because you wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole, or is sexual because you’d totally touch them with a barge pole and then do them.
And you can’t help feeling a bit weird when they’re engaged. Or married. Or are seeing other people. Because, at one point, you were really important to them and now you’re both just two strangers who feel obliged to say hello when they see each other at parties once a year.
Or, in my case, nearly get hit by a bus in an attempt to avoid having to say hello. (I don’t like small talk, especially not with someone who has seen my boobs and has now been let loose on the world. They know one’s bigger than the other, and that’s information that I can’t have unleashed unless I write about in an article that thousands of people will read. Oh.)
Anyway, here are six reasons you shouldn’t be friends with an ex, as told by five girls who have all given it a go and discovered that it’s totally pointless and you might a well just kick them into a manhole and be done with it.
Because they’ll let you down
You’re not going out any more, so there’s literally no reason for them to keep promises or ‘be a good friend’. So they probs won’t be. When Lilly and her boyfriend broke up, their families were friends so they agreed to go along to the family parties in an attempt to keep things civil.
‘We both cut each other off completely, but then a few months down the line thought we’d both go to family parties and stuff and it would be cool. He never showed up to any of them,’ she says. ‘I was sad actually, because I wanted it to be cool again – but then afterwards I realised that it’s probably a good thing. I probably wasn’t as aware of how over it I was and I may have found it hard to see him.’
Yeah, the whole avoiding-each-other thing is pretty shit when it happens, but you’ll be glad afterwards – it means you can get over them a lot quicker than if you’re trying to be friends. Mainly because...
Because you’re probably not over them
There’s a rule I’ve come up with which is that you’re about a year behind yourself when it comes to being over an ex. Six months after the break-up, you think you’re totally fine, but then you see they’re going out with someone else and suddenly find yourself eating an entire pie and crying at a bus driver (you’re eating the pie on a bus), so don’t force yourself to be friends when it’s just not going to happen.
‘I got unceremoniously dumped by my first boyfriend of two years, and a year later I was invited to a party I knew he’d be at. I didn’t really know the person whose party it was, I just went with the intention to make things fine again because I was completely over him,’ she says.
‘Of course, I got there and spent the whole night really upset at how disinterested in talking to me he was. After following him around a bit, I cried in the toilet and my friend booked me an uber. I wasn’t ready. At all. And I wish I hadn’t been so obvious about it, because I just embarrassed myself.’
Anyone else getting sympathy-clenching just reading about this? Yeah.
Because they’ll end up in prison
Alright, so not everyone will go to prison, but this is a really good example of how far we go to remain close with our exes – even if they’ve gone to prison for being a criminal and been really horrible to you.
‘He was down to serve two-and-a-half years and I was still desperately in love despite him showing his true colours and I excused his behaviour in any number of ways: “He had a hard upbringing”, “His mum was going to lose the house so he had no choice but to steal!”, “Poor Jon”,’ says Jane (as in Jane Doe, she’d prefer to remain anonymous).
‘He’d robbed vulnerable old people in their homes. He was despicable. But I saw him when he came out and he seemed truly broken – the protector and mother in me was ignited. I wanted to help my boy back into the world.
‘It takes a long time to realise that you are under someone’s spell – and sometimes even longer to realise that you being in their life is as hurtful to them as it is to you. After a series of insane and dramatic run-ins with my ex after prison, I realised that I was literally back at square one. Falling at the mercy of someone who is familiar.’
That’s one of the big issues with being friends with an ex – it feels like it’ll be fine, but you’re probably just still in love with them without even realising it. And you can’t ignore the pull of the familiar.
‘You can’t fix your ex. Once it’s over, it’s over. The hurt between you is a constant weapon and unless you can learn together how to put that down, it will only end in tears.’ Word.
Because it’ll just be messy
If you were good friends before, you might think you can just go back to being the way you were. But it’s nigh-on impossible, because there’s an undercurrent of a power play now, and you’ve both totally had orgasms next to each other. That’s not something you can go back from without a bit of awkwardness.
‘We had a big argument after we broke up because I was trying to downplay the fact we’d ever dated to make the friendship more normal, but he was telling a load of friends we dated for twice the length we’d ever gone out,’ says Rhonda, which is obviously a pseudonym.
‘I was annoyed at him for seeming to be more into it than he ever was when we went out. It was complicated. Also, we had great chemistry so I kept asking him why we weren’t going out after we’d broken up.’
See, again, not as over it as you thought you were. Remember the rule.
Because you might make THEM sad
If you’re totally cool with being their mate, that means that they’re probably not.
‘Another ex never wanted to see me again because he didn’t know how to deal with me (I was his only ex-girflriend). I was upset about this, because I thought we could be really good friends and cajoled a mutual friend into convincing the ex and some friends to come to mine for dinner,’ says Rhonda.
‘Big group, no pressure, he could see how fun it was to be friends. Problem was, a chap I liked at the time was there, so I ended up bonking him that night and upsetting the ex, or so I heard via mutual friends later on. So yeah, his call on not being friends was the right one. My bad.’
Look, it’s a total minefield, guys. Not worth it.
Because one of you decided they’d prefer to be alone
You were a worse option than going through a break-up. That's you. Or them, if you broke up with them. That’s not something you should be eager to keep in your life because the people in your life should make you feel relaxed, comfortable and totally yourself. They shouldn’t be someone who made you cry and feel anxious and all sad. Go find some friends who want to be with your forever, yeah?
Like this? You might also be interested in...
Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM
Picture: Eylul Aslan
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating