The age old question of “should I be friends with my ex?” will never have a surefire answer and it is personal to everyone, but this is my opinion on the matter. Some may agree and some may disagree, but nevertheless it is merely an opinion and this is not a personal attack on anyone. Feel free to feel whatever you may please.
For starters, this question is not a “should I hate my ex,” versus “should I respect my ex?” Because you should not hate anyone and you should (try to) respect everyone. This is more of a…”should I incorporate my ex into my life just as I do my other friends?” Of course it matters what the situation regarding the break-up was. In situations of abuse and obvious mistreatment, that person does not deserve access to you and your life. When children are involved things get difficult…but for this case I’m focusing on break-ups not concerned with children or abuse.
Everyone starts to date for a reason and one of those reasons (most likely) was that you and your ex got along and found pleasure in spending time with each other. So, you are both friends and significant others, because you wouldn’t date someone that you weren’t friends with (in most cases). But then if you found such pleasure in each others time…why would you break-up? The reasons are endless…but it seems that all of the reasons go back to one person being more committed than the other. When you find yourself becoming committed to someone and only having a desire for them, your heart, soul, and body become involved with that other person. There is something about humans and the way that we love that just consumes us. By consuming I don’t mean that you revolve your life around it, but you consider that person in everything you do….because when you have a relationship with someone, especially a romantic one, your actions effect them whether you like it or not.
So, when you experience such deep emotions and then someone cheats on you, or decides that they don’t want to be in a relationship with you because it is just not what they want anymore…and you’re not on the same level of disinterest as them…it hurts…badly. You find yourself questioning everything you did. Asking yourself, “where did I go wrong? what could I have done differently?” You just keep fighting yourself until eventually you realize that you did nothing wrong. And you did not have to do anything differently. I’m guessing that most of us distance ourselves from our exes for a while because we all know that we cannot heal if we are surrounded by the person that left us feeling broken every day. That would be like sending a former alcoholic to the bar after they get their first sobriety chip. You need distance from what hurt you before you can surround yourself with it without feeling the negative feelings you did before. Even if you still love them, and you still will, sometimes we have to keep the things we love the most the furthest away from us.
But when you find yourself feeling better and you find that you no longer have an attachment to that person. You see their name on your phone or see them on social media and your heart no longer skips a beat. Someone mentions their name and you don’t feeling a pang in your chest. Your emotions are no longer easily influenced by their presence. You have healed (mostly) from the tragedy of a broken heart. What do you do then? What you shouldn’t do is go out of your way to have them in your life. If you come across them in public…say hi. If you see something they say on social media and you want to like it, retweet it, share it, or anything in the like…do it. If they say something to you in public or social media, then respond. But if you start to let them into your life more, then the chances of you gaining back the deep emotions and feelings that you have spent SO much time training yourself to not experience and live without will more likely than not come back. You have to remind yourself, as painful as it sounds, that they do not feel for you the way that you’ve felt for them….unless of course they say so. But, then again, the idea that someone only realizes how much they feel for you when you are gone are risky waters to be treading in. To me that just sounds like uncertainty…but that’s a different topic.
What I am getting at, since I have really dragged out the question of, “should I be friends with my ex?” is that…you should be friendly with your ex but you shouldn’t be friends with them. The term friends is used very loosely these days, but if you really think about it…you guys aren’t really friends. I’d say the word phrase old friends would be more suiting. Eventually as you grow into the person you are without them you’ll even seem more like strangers. Pain changes people and the person you were when you were with them will not be the same person you are when you aren’t with them.
If you think you can maintain close contact with your ex and not gain feelings for them again…then go for it. There is nothing stopping you, but remember there is nothing forcing you either. It does not make you a bad person to not maintain a solid friendship with them. As long as you respect their name and send love their way (as you should do for everyone, whether you know them or not) you are doing everything right. If they want to be friends with you and it is too painful for you, be honest with them and if they cannot understand that…they eventually will…I promise.
Also keep in mind that you don’t have to burn the bridge because burning bridges is never good. Just don’t work on the bridge for a few seasons. This is not a grudge you are holding. It is just you living your life the healthiest way for you. There are many people that we have met that we care for, but don’t necessarily go out of our way for them to be in our lives. If years pass and you two have grown into different people…maybe things can work. But also remember to NOT wait on that and to carry on your life without the thought that maybe you two will meet again. Just let life happen and try not to actively wonder about those things.
I pray that you all feel better if you are going through a break-up or any painful experience…it gets better. The new you will be beautiful and thriving and wonderful. I pray you all find love for yourself and find yourself surrounded by everything good.