One of the worst reasons women stay in bad relationships is to avoid losing their mutual friends. I understand that and I’ve been there myself – not for long, but it did keep me around a few weeks longer than I wanted to be. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I didn’t have to lose anything but a terrible boyfriend. I’m talking the so terrible that all the other jerks I’ve dated haven’t even come close type of boyfriend. While I knew I might lose a few of his most loyal friends, I could keep the rest. It does take patience and a little work to keep mutual friends, but it’s well worth it. Here’s how to do it if there are a few you just can’t part with.
- Make your terms clear. This is unknown territory for your friends, too. They don’t know what’s okay and what’s not. It’s one of the reasons they might avoid you after the breakup. Talk to them and let them know whether it’s okay to invite you to the same events as your ex or if they should avoid talking about him. Set clear terms so it’s easier on everybody.
- Never trash talk the ex. Remember that your ex is likely still their friend, too. You might hate his guts, but keep that to yourself. Trust me, the friends know how you feel. Don’t make them uncomfortable by preaching to them for hours about how bad he is.
- Don’t make your friends choose sides. The worse possible thing you can do is try to make your friends choose sides. Never give an ultimatum that says they have to choose you or him. Odds are, they’ll either choose him or give up on both of you. Remember, the breakup isn’t their fault. Doing this just drags them into the middle of it.
- Make the first move. By now, your mutual friends know the breakup was messy. What they don’t know is how you feel about them. Reach out to them and let them know you still care. Some might not respond, but most will. You just have to let them know it’s okay to still be friends.
- Keep your new love life private. It’s kind of a dirty move, but sometimes you want your ex to know just how great your love life is after him. It also puts your friends in an uncomfortable situation. They don’t want to have to keep secrets from their other friend (aka your ex). Unless they ask, avoid any details about your new love life outside of saying you’re dating someone.
- Avoid gatherings that include the ex. This is especially true at first. Your friends don’t want to get caught between the two of you. If you both get invited, decline the invitation. Ask your friends to alternate invitations or hang out with them during times when you know the ex isn’t around.
- Let your friends divide themselves. You can’t really expect his best friend to be your best friend after the breakup. All you can do is reach out to your mutual friends and let them know how you feel. They’ll then divide themselves accordingly. Some will pick your side or his while others will stay friends with both of you. Don’t force things. Let your friends do what’s best for them.
- Take the high road when your ex is around. When you’re sharing friends, you will see your ex sometimes. Don’t be petty. Be as respectful as possible and avoid direct conversation when you can. If he tries to rile you up, ignore him or just leave. It’s better to take the high road than end up looking worse than him.
- Decide which friends are worth it. You probably don’t want to keep all the friends. Decide which ones you want to make an effort with. Which ones are going to be respectful of your wishes? Which ones aren’t going to talk about you behind your back to your ex? Only keep mutual friends who are actually worth your time.
- Answer your friends’ questions. Even if you set terms, your friends will likely have questions. Don’t get pissed or annoyed. Answer their questions so they better understand what you need. They may even ask questions about the breakup itself. Try to answer as civilly as possible. Don’t place blame. Instead, state facts only.
- Offer to take turns with the ex. Shared friends want time with both of you. Don’t try to monopolize all their time. Offer to take turns hanging out. Maybe you could hang out one week and the ex next week. Making an effort makes it easier on everyone.
- Don’t try to take them away. No matter how much you hate your ex, don’t resort to dirty tricks like taking his friends away. Not only will the friends end up leaving you, you’ll just make the breakup worse. If some friends choose him, let them be. Remember, take the high road. You only want to keep the friends who actually care about you.
Don’t expect mutual friends to immediately make a choice or understand your terms completely from day one. Be patient and work with your friends. I’ve been there and I’ve still got mutual friends to this day.