The short answer is a hard and fast “no”, but I understand that there are exceptions, and being someone who has most certainly remained friends with many exes, I’m by no means one to judge. We live in a world where breaking up is a thing of the past (in the traditional sense, at least). The way people used to function was that after a break up you simply never saw the person again. Instead, not only are we bombarded with their every move via the internet, many of us have concluded that it’s just easier to remain friendly with a former significant other. Unfortunately, this tends to wind up a disastrous mess.
As I just said, I tend to become friends with ex-boyfriends. I use the word “become” as opposed to “remain”, because I’ve never dated someone I was first friends with. My past relationships have always run the course of girl meets boy, girl likes boy, girl dates boy, then one of us ruins the other one’s life. If we weren’t ever friends before, how is a casual friendship going to work out now? Despite having endured some not-so-great breakups, I’ve attempted to make the transition from girlfriend to friend, and it hasn’t quite worked out so far. But hey, practice makes perfect, right?
At first, you’ll think it’s the right thing to do. You cared about this person, and this person cared about you, so it just seems natural to keep this care-fest going. The only problem is that typically during a breakup, one party maintains some residual feelings for the other. When you’re the one with the feels, being around said individual becomes increasingly difficult. You’d be amazed by how not fine you are once you actually occupy the same space as the person who broke your heart. And if by some divine grace you’re okay with being around your ex, trust me: all of your amicable intentions go out the window as soon as one of you moves on.
Another drawback to the situation is trying to break the habitual interactions that were once appropriate. Kisses hello and holding hands are clearly off the table, but what about inside jokes? References only they will get? How often can you hug? Where’s the line between being friendly and being inappropriate? Do you really want to add the task of figuring out how to navigate this new territory on top of trying to move past a failed relationship? Because if there’s one universal truth, it’s that you can keep telling yourself you’re okay with the situation, but nothing sucks more than having a friendship that comes with potentially heartbreaking terms and conditions.
Bottom line is that while yes, sometimes being friends with your ex can work out, chances are one of you is hurting inside just a teeny tiny bit. Life is hard enough without the added discomfort of sidestepping certain words and actions towards someone you used to be with. And once they start dating someone new? Forget about it. Their new significant other will think of you in one way and in one way only: the ex (because that’s what you are). Ask yourself if all this exhaustion is worth it, only to keep a friend around who never really was one in the first place.
Because the answer is: it isn’t.