A reader wrote to ask us this question. I’ve been pondering the issue from all sides as I look at couples and how they handled the “friendship” thing after a breakup. I’ve come to the following conclusions:
- Unless a couple has a child or multiple children between them that would require seeing each other intermittently over an extended period of time (meaning decades) – interacting at school events, birthday parties, graduations, engagement parties, weddings, christenings, the birthday parties of grandchildren, etc. there is absolutely, positively no need for them to even try to “be friends”;
- Two people that dated and broke up because of incompatibilities, mistreatment, cheating or other bad behavior should not try to cushion the blow of the split by saying some fake “let’s be friends!” nonsense. Women are notorious for offering such an olive branch, as women are socialized to be pleasers and worry about hurting other people’s feelings. In such a case, whoever is offering the friendship bone is usually trying to ease out of the relationship with as little drama as possible, as he or she has no real intention of actually maintaining a friendship of any type.
- Two people that dated and broke up due to cheating, mistreatment, lack of affection, and incompatibilities have a negative history. The issues that caused you to split will repeatedly come up as you continue to interact. Even if your ex forgives you for your transgressions, he or she will never forget. Why subject yourself to repeated accusations, interrogation, anger and tears? Just move on already!
- When an ex insists on being your friend though you would prefer that they go up in flames, it is actually their way of hanging onto the possibility that you will forgive and forget and come back for more pain. Sometimes though, all they really want is to be around in a moment of weakness when you are feeling lonely and vulnerable. The goal in these situations is to catch you when you’re feeling blue, so they can slide in and sex you down or ask you for something like money. Your “friendship” is really all about them creating opportunities to continue to use and hurt you.