Anna Schultz-Girl And Guy Couple Laughing With Milkshakes

Staying Friends with an Ex

Last month, my two-and-a-half-year relationship ended. It was an amicable split, mutually agreed upon, no hard feelings on either side; so there was no reason why we couldn’t stay friends, right?

For a while, I struggled a little to navigate our new dynamic. Even though we didn’t slam the breaks on our now-platonic relationship train, I still felt the change in speed. It was suddenly no longer appropriate or necessary to talk to each other every day or to inform each other about our personal lives. When I did talk to him, I had to remind myself that I couldn’t tell him that I loved him, or that he looked cute, or that we should go visit ~this~ destination and eat at ~that~ restaurant next time we see each other. Struggle number one: figuring out how to continue to interact with someone you were so close to and still care so deeply for without falling into your old habits and natural dynamic.

Struggle number two: coming to terms with the fact that they’re not yours. When your significant other is hanging out with or interacting with attractive people, it’s not totally unjustified to get jealous. But when they’re not your significant other, you don’t have the right to get jealous anymore. They can be around whoever they want. They don’t owe you an explanation, and they don't have to answer your questions about it. 

Struggle number three: the idea of dating other people. We were together for so long that it’s hard for me to imagine either of us being with someone else. Will he tell me when he starts seeing someone new? How will I feel about it? Will I want to know about their relationship? When I start seeing someone new, do I tell him? How soon is too soon to start dating again? I’ve become accustomed to pushing off the advances of others and reveling in the security of my trusting, comfortable, loving relationship. Now that I’m single, I’m trying to move on, but I feel guilty about it. My heart wants to stay loyal. I keep comparing my love for my ex, which had built up and become very strong over the years, to the comparatively weak buds of curiosity about the people I encounter now. I guess it’s safe to say that I’m not ready to see other people, and if I start to worry that my ex is ready, then I go right back to struggle number two.

All that being said, and despite communicating much less frequently since our breakup, we both know for sure that we want to keep in touch. While we were coming to terms with the fact that our relationship wasn’t going to work out, we were so focused on our reasons for breaking up that we nearly forgot why we got together in the first place. We bonded the minute we met, and our love and respect for each other has only grown since then. Even if we’re not in a romantic relationship anymore, we are still close friends. We still enjoy each other’s company, we value each other’s opinions, and we care for each other deeply.

Before you decide to cut an ex out of your life (if neither person did anything wrong), remember what they bring to your life. You might be losing a boyfriend or girlfriend, but you don’t have to lose a friend. The heartbreak is only temporary.