Being close friends with an ex is somehow a myth to me and I’ve been trying to find out for a while if there is such thing as true friendship after a failed relationship. So let’s bring in the 2 sides: the rejected one and the rejecting one to find out what is in for the two of them and if there is, in fact, honest and open when they say there is nothing more to this.
Clearly at least one of the partners entered the relation hoping there will be something different to it, maybe the other person will turn out to be their SO, or they just wanted sex with no obligations, maybe even wanted nothing to begin with. At this particular point, there were two sides, one partner wanted more and the other not so much. After a few failed attempts they decide they will split up, but still, remain friends. Here is the magnificent trap that gets more and more people, the illusion that you get to benefit from this failed partnership.
Let’s bring into the stage our first “champion” the rejected one! For this particular person, the whole episode is both painful and shameful. You get to find someone that you like, that seems to like you back since you were in a form of relationship, but now he is not into you anymore. They desire something else, more particularly someone else. Anyone who has suffered from rejection knows the magnitude of this feeling and is familiar with that voice that tells you that “you were not enough”. Even if we can understand and relate to the feeling of not being compatible with someone else, we also feel mistreated and hurt. We are now in a state of vulnerability where we would want to force the other person to change his/her mind. So we take the deal, we agree to be just friends, knowing that we would get a part of the relationship, but also secretly hoping that maybe they will come back around.
So here we are, rejected and hurt, yet friends with the one that did this to us. We are confining into the one that turned us down, but we somehow feel that we made an awesome deal. We can now call them to just talk, we can go to lunch or dinner with them, we haven’t completely lost our partner and we are not yet alone. But what did we really gain? Is this a true friendship or is it just ghosting and lingering around our punisher?
Now, let’s bring “champion” number two, the rejecting one! We entered into a new relationship thinking this might be a fit person for us. After a few dates, or even after a few years of relationship, we realize that we don’t actually want to be with this one. We want something else, we dream about someone else, or we just want the space. Yet we feel bad for leading them on, we are not a bad person, we just want something else. One of you proposes the deal of being just friends and now that you get to think about it, it is not a bad idea, you like spending time with them, just not in a romantic way. So here we are, discussing your day to day problems with someone that knows you and clearly has your best interest at heart.
There we are again, happy that we haven’t lost a friend but also free of commitment for that other person, who surely has moved on, since they are ok with you seeing and talking about other people. You have now put your past together for aside and you are now all happy. But is the other person really over it? And are you fully committed to the new person from your life? Or are you getting a full relationship from 2 sides?
Love is a powerful feeling! You cannot love someone just a little, you can only like them a little. The same goes for rejection especially when it is related to love. Although it seems that you can leave your partner because of all the small things he/she is doing, you are not breaking up because of the toilet seat that was left up, you are just not compatible anymore, you both want something else. Keeping an only boyfriend or girlfriend as a friend is just an excuse for you to feel safe, you can always come back to this side of your relationship, unfortunately, this side carries with it the guilt of breaking up with someone or the shame of not being enough for the other person. Also having this person around can make it harder for a new potential partner to come around since he or she would have to compete for your friendship.
Indeed there is one particular scenario where 2 exes can be friends. When there were no feelings involved! If their “relationship” was purely sexual with 0 feelings involved they will get along perfectly and in a healthy manner was friends, because actually, they were never more than that.
As for the rest of us, the ones that had some sort of feelings for our ex-partner, the best way to deal with this is to let them go. Pass on the offer of being just friends and burry the relationship. Accepting to be just friends with a loved one is as if your mom would tell you that your cat has died, but you can still keep it if you want. Let the exes be exactly where they belong, in your past!