I’m Still Friends With My Ex… and I Get a Lot of Crap For It

Some of the hardest experiences I’ve ever had have been breakups. You think you’re going to be with a person forever, or at least for another week, and then they hurt you, you hurt them or something just doesn’t work out. There’s a lot of residual feelings when a couple breaks up — hurt, anger, even some leftover love. It’s understandable why a lot of people never talk to their ex again, even when they promise to remain friends.

I’m not one of those people. Well, okay. There’s one ex I absolutely don’t talk to and have no reason to talk to, other than drunkenly texting him to tell him what a jerk he is, but he’s a special case of me having a panic attack every time I see a redheaded, skinny boy. But, my other exes are all on varying levels of friendship—including my most recent ex, who I still hang out with pretty regularly.

When this ex and I broke up over the summer, we really did make a promise to stay friends. This was a man I absolutely trusted in every way, who I experienced a lot of firsts with, who was a huge part of healing from my last horrible relationship. In fact, we were close friends before we made out at a party, which I think is a big part of why we’re close friends now.

It was absolutely stinking hard for a while. Over the summer it was easy because we could just text occasionally and play 8 Ball over GamePigeon. But, when we got back to school and I saw him for the first time, I was hit with this wave of regret. I missed him—a lot—and basically begged him to get back together. Luckily, he said no, and after a while, I realized that our break-up was probably the best thing that could have happened at that point. We weren’t right for each other, and that was okay. After weeks of slowly bonding again, making sure we were never alone together, avoiding each other in compromising situations and basically just hanging out as casual acquaintances, we finally ended up almost as close as we were when we were dating, but of course without the romantic feelings. We even finished a show we were watching together before we broke up.

When I tell people that I’m going over to my ex’s apartment to hang out, or that he’s taking me to get my phone fixed or that he’s coming over for waffles, they either ask me if it’s awkward, or they give me this look like “Uh huh, okay.”

Actually, one of my roommates is convinced that my ex and I are going to end up hooking up simply because we used to. But believe me when I say that I don’t want to, and he doesn’t want to, and we’re both very happy with where we’re at. It’s nice having someone to drive you to get sushi when you’re sad about boys who ghost you. It’s fun using someone’s laptop to play Skyrim because you’re not about to pay. It’s exciting cheering someone on as they go on a first date, and then comforting them when it doesn’t go well. And it’s absolutely wonderful having someone who knows and understands you inside and out, who you bonded within such a special way.

It’s time to take the stigma away from exes. Not every relationship ends horribly and not every ex is evil. In fact, people you date are the people who end up knowing you best, and just because you weren’t compatible romantically doesn’t mean you can’t be great friends.