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Is it Beneficial or Self-Destructive to Remain Friends with Your Ex?

Can a Failed Relationship Turn Into a Great Friendship?

Posted by Madeleine Harrington for

There are two general reasons we tend to call it off: the first is that our significant other has done something horrible and unmentionable, so much so it is no longer possible to spend time or share a living space with them. The second is that the fundamental elements of our lives — personalities, living or occupational situation – have shifted from the initial dynamics of when our relationship began. Either way, whether the break up is bitter or mutual, there are emotions that remain, be it anger, jealousy, or, in most occurrences, love.

I remember the first time my ex and I spent time together post-breakup, and I can completely recall it, from the time of day to the posters hanging on my wall. Our break-up was equal parts bitter and mutual, and touched on every possible emotion. It was, to say the least, brutal. Sitting in my bedroom, a room that just a week or month before had served a completely different purpose to us, was surreal. But mostly, it was the positioning of our bodies, the gaps and boundaries in dialogue that are required when you retreat from closeness with another person, which got to me.

We now had to sit up straight, on different pieces of furniture, with less eye contact, omitting fragments of speech and even entire personal experiences, careful not to hurt the other person or ourselves. This sort of situation, I realized quickly, was inorganic, unproductive, and only prolonging the heartbreak.

It is almost inevitable that by spending time with your ex in even remotely intimate situations will make you call into question the reasons for your break-up, even if those reasons were completely valid. Yet this sort of second guessing is completely human and expected. After all, for the past two years, when we sat next to each other, we held hands, when we were alone, we kissed. There are fragments of ourselves we haven’t revealed to anyone else. So when you are still the same two people, how can you ever undo that?

The answer is that you can’t. This sort of “undoing” only comes after however much time it takes for both of you to readjust to your lives without each other, when you find new people to hold hands with, to kiss, to confide in, to the point where you no longer feel that aching sensation when you hear your ex’s name or see their face. If it is difficult to see your ex, it is probably even more difficult, almost unfathomable, to not see them, after all your significant other is usually your best friend.

However, if this is the case, as best friends, you should recognize, above all, what makes the other person happy. You should also recognize that, if you truly care about this person as much as you feel you do, the time apart is unremarkable in contrast to what you receive from it. You will be able to understand that, despite the challenges you may face, it is worth the wait.

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