Can You be Friends with Your Ex?

-Prity Shrestha Rajbhandary

Prity Shrestha Rajbhandary tries to find the answer to this question.

Sometimes you notice teenagers writing graffiti outside local temples with messages such as “Pratima + Subodh = Forever” within a heart shape. Architecture defacement aside, you can clearly see what they are dreaming of. They are walking down the lane and holding hands onto old age. Love abounds everywhere.

Now back to reality. Falling in love with the right person is difficult but building a successful relationship is even more difficult. It is a constant effort that tests your patience and requires a lot of understanding. But the truth of the matter is that many relationships are simply not going to work out. Interestingly, people in unsuccessful relationships will tell you what a herculean task it is to break up; it is a war zone strewn with emotional and physical casualties. If there is abuse (physical/mental) or infidelity, there is remote chance of the partners getting back together. But, if the reason for the breakup was none of that, and something less serious, would you still be friends with your Ex?

In answering that question, we need to think of a couple of scenarios, whereby: 1) children are involved; 2) either of the two has found a partner and moved on; and 3) both of them are still unattached.

If there are children involved, I can understand the need to be in touch with your Ex, if not for yourself, at least for your children. The tricky part is for the #2 and #3 scenarios mentioned above. Sometimes there are still lingering feelings for the partner or there may be issues that still haven’t been resolved. And, by getting back together as friends, there is this hope that love can be rekindled or issues can be resolved, so that everything will get back to normal. Shakespeare didn’t say it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, “Say no more, love is but perpetual hope.”

I don’t think it is a good idea to remain friends with your Ex because: first, if you cling on to your past, it will be difficult to move forward and find newer, perhaps even better romantic opportunities (as the saying goes, “there is more than one fish in the pond”); second, it won’t be fair to your current partner (that is, if you have one) as it will create a lot of insecurities and jealousies (certainly, you don›t want to ruin your current budding relationship because of your old failed one); and third, it is bound to give false hope to either you or your Ex that there might be a miniscule chance of getting back.

It is always sad when things do not work out, but remember that time is the greatest healer. All you need to do is to cherish the good memories, get yourself a nice cup of coffee, recoil in a sofa, play the Guns and Roses song “Nothing Lasts Forever, Not Even the Cold November Rain,” and move on. There is no room for anger and hate in your life. The fact that your partner, with whom you shared your intimate details, hopes, and aspirations, is now not even a friend, does not necessarily mean that he/she is your enemy.

People Speak
I asked a couple of people if they would be friends with their Ex, and many said that they would not. The most common reasons they gave were:

It would be awkward for them to talk about their current partner and any new relationship problems with their Ex.

Being with their Ex would be a constant reminder of the pain and failure that accompanied the breakup, and would make it difficult for them to start a new relationship.

They would become jealous when they find out that their Ex is in a better relationship now than when he/she was with them.

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