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The True Upsets of a Breakup: Losing His Friends

You’ve just gone through an awful breakup, it was messy, mean, and it left you without a true explanation as to why things ended. But, you believe that everything happens for a reason, even if you won’t know that reason for a while.  That reason finally presents itself to you—maybe your ex is an immature child afraid of commitment, or maybe he is just an a**hole. Opening your eyes to see this makes it easy to be thankful for the breakup and to move on to bigger and better things.  Reminder: Despite being back to your normal self, not liking who your ex is does not remove the happy memories you two had together when he was still treating you with all the respect you deserve.

Now that you’re back to yourself, you want to hit the bars with your friends.  You pick up the phone to call Josh* when it hits you…all of the friends you made through your ex are HIS friends, and they were only your friends because you were dating [name of your ex].  This doesn’t seem fair at all.  You only broke up with one person, so why have you lost more than one relationship?  Breaking up is a pebble that hits the water, a pebble that creates ripples.

An unfortunate fact of life is that the friendships that you’ve made through your boyfriend will most likely end when the relationship with your boyfriend ends.  At the very least, there will be an awkward time when the relationship will seem forced and strained.  At some point, you might retain a relationship with those people, but it will never quite be the same.  (Rachel and Ross are able to stay friends even with their romantic histories, and Rachel and Joey continue to be friends post fling when Rachel gets back together with Ross.  All of the characters stay friends despite any romantic relationships forming or ending.  If our favorite Friends characters can do it, I’m sure some UC Davis boys are capable of staying friends too.)  Be aware that you have to watch what you say so as to not put your friends in an uncomfortable situation.  If you do this, they will end up choosing the person who doesn’t make them uncomfortable, your ex.

You can’t help how, when, where, or why you meet people and become friends.  Although your friendships may be true friendships, the breakup can trump what you two have together because of pride, length of relationship, and most of all, loyalty.  If your friendship does end, realize that it has nothing to do with you.  Sometimes, things are bigger than you, and people have a hard time separating conflicts of interest.  It may be your ex or Josh* that can’t handle the friendship between you and Josh*.  Either way, you should find comfort knowing you did nothing wrong even though the end of any relationship is a reason for a tear or two to be shed.

If you happen to run in to Josh* or a group of your ex’s friends, do not run and hide!  This is not the mature way to handle the situation.  You should have enough of a friendship there to say hi and ask how they are.  Don’t be afraid to check up on a specific thing you two talked about.  Maybe you talked about applying to an internship or a huge paper he had to write--ask how it went.  If Josh* became a close friend that you do not want to lose, feel free to say that you understand things will be weird for a while but you hope that you can maintain a friendship with him.  Do not talk about your ex, especially not in detail.  You may think you want to know, but in the end, it will only make it harder for you to move on and will put Josh* in an uncomfortable situation.  Try not to make the conversation last for too long, particularly in situations where you ran into each other while doing something (i.e. studying, eating a meal, etc.).  If the thought of talking to Josh* is too much for you to handle without breaking out in tears, asking a million questions about your ex, or making an idiot of yourself by talking about an incredible date that never happened, simply walk up to Josh*, say hi, explain that you are just on your way out but it was great running into him and you hope to see him soon.  

Relationships are complicated.  They are not separate, but connected and intertwined as a spider’s web.  Cutting one string affects many more.  There is a possibility they can stay intact, but they will never be exactly the same.  As my mother says, some people are only meant to last in your life for a season.  Enjoy the time you have with people; you never know how long it will last.  Hold on to the memories that you make; those will last you a lifetime.

*Substitute Josh with the name of your ex’s friend.

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