You may think that offloading a terrible partner is a victory, but have you ever tried making friends with your exes instead of cutting them out of your life entirely? As soon as I started befriending the dudes I dated, my whole perspective on friendship and relationships changed.
There’s a reason we were attracted to each other. I always thought that the first spark you experience with someone comes from sexual chemistry, but sometimes it’s just personal compatibility. When a romantic relationship fails, that spark that first brought you together is often still there. Unless you’re dating someone purely out of physical attraction, chances are that you still have that intellectual and emotional chemistry that first attracted you to each other, and that’s the kind of spark that creates a great friendship.
It’s a lot easier to love someone when you don’t have to take on their issues. When you’re dating someone, their problems automatically become yours as well, even if you manage to stay relatively independent. Whether they’re terrible with money, constantly fighting with their parents, or have hefty emotional baggage, their issues will always end up being your burden too. When you’re just friends, you get to be moral support from a distance. None of their problems will directly affect your life unless you want them to.
We’ve been through a lot together. No matter how badly a relationship ends, the fact remains that the two of you know each other in a way that no one else does. The inside jokes don’t just go away. The happy memories aren’t erased. It would be a shame to throw it all out the window just because you realized you weren’t great partners.
We’ve got each other’s backs. Relationships are very intimate. Often, your significant other is the first person you turn to when something in your life goes wrong and it’s difficult to just cut the intimacy out of your life the second you break up. Sometimes exes who weren’t great at supporting you during your relationship turn out to be the most supportive friends because they know you, but also don’t have much at stake in their own lives. Sometimes emotional distance can actually promote compassion.
We automatically know a lot of deep stuff about each other. The hardest part about making new friends is getting to the emotional intimacy. It often takes months if not years to really get to know someone on a deep level, but when you’re transitioning to friendship with your ex, the emotional depth is already there. All you have to do is get used to not dating them, which is actually a lot easier than it sounds.
Just because someone isn’t a good boyfriend doesn’t mean he’s a bad friend. I made the mistake of thinking that all my exes were horrible people simply because they didn’t turn out to be a great fit with me romantically. But once the pain of the breakup had eased off, I realized that our lack of romantic chemistry didn’t mean that we were a bad fit for each other in every way, and was able to build real friendships with them.
We can call each other out on our BS. I rely on my exes to tell me when I’m making bad decisions or being irrational, and I feel no hesitation about holding them accountable for their actions as well. One of the best parts about nasty breakups is that it’s difficult for the relationship to get any worse. I can be real with my exes in a way that I can’t with anyone else because of how many dark places we’ve been together and how we somehow still managed to survive and form a friendship.
Turning over a new page can transform a relationship. You’d think that being friends with someone you broke up with kind of defeats the purpose. The whole point of breaking up is to stop being in a relationship with that person. But dating someone is very different from being friends with them. Just because you make terrible partners doesn’t mean you won’t make excellent friends.
They remind me who I actually do want to date. There’s nothing like having a frequent reminder of bad decisions to help you make better ones. While I love the friendships I have with my exes on a personal level, I also appreciate them because they help me remember to not ever fall for guys like that again. With my exes-turned-friends as constant reference points, I’m able to avoid the pitfalls of repeating history.
It doesn’t have a 100% success rate. Obviously there are some cases in which you can never be friends with an ex. If they cheated on you or were abusive in any way or did something else that was unforgivable, they do not have any place in your life. If you’re forming a friendship with your ex just because you can’t stand to be disliked by them, you aren’t doing it for the right reasons and will never be happy with yourself or anyone else.
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