It’s the new year and typically that signifies a fresh start. However, what some of us may have experienced over the holidays was the reappearing ex. You know the type – you didn’t hear from them for awhile. They surreptitiously kept tabs on your activities via social media though. Depending on the time of your break-up or last encounter, they may have sent a “happy birthday” or “just thinking of you” message. But Christmas and New Year’s Eve is the optimal time for exes to find their way back in.
For many of us, we returned to our home cities. Or we were placed in group situations that had us face to face with old flames. There’s something about the holidays but also the start of a new year that brings up nostalgia with that former special someone.
At some point, there’s an offer extended to have a conversation. It’s friendly enough so you welcome it. After reminiscing on what used to be and fleeting thoughts of what could have been, the question of friendship rolls off the tongue as flatly as asking about the weather. It’s often more of a statement of relief than a genuine question. “So we’re friends right.”
The word, the title, it lingers in the air, heavy, almost smothering. The person that you invested time, affection, and love into has demoted you to just another person in their life. You’re somewhat special because you know them in an intimate way. You know the details of their skin. You know the inner workings of their mind. And they know you the same. But things have changed. The part of you as a unit is over.
When things end amicably, people like to believe they can go back. They try to convince themselves that they can be friends because they still love and respect each other on a human level. Although the truth is the behaviors that two people develop over time in a romantic relationship are hard to unlearn.
For instance, in a relationship, your significant other becomes the primary person to share your good and bad news with. Before your parents and friends, you called them. When the relationship is over, calling them first is no longer an option. It’s even more weird when you know they’re dating someone else. When things are happening in my life now, I find myself sharing and consulting more with my friends and looking to them for support. Can you consider your ex a part of this support system? Absolutely. But you’re kidding yourself if you think it’s going to be the same.
Exes being friends also becomes extremely complicated when it comes to moving on. You can’t fully move on when you’re physically or emotionally attached to your past. This is something that I’ve personally struggled with. I still don’t have the right answers on how to un-tangle the web.
What I have realized lately is that being friends with an ex that you still have feelings for puts you in a position to be a “placeholder” until someone else comes along. You’re better than that. Exes are exes for a reason. And quite frankly, after a certain point, neither of you need anymore friends.
It’s hard ending chapters. No one ever goes into a relationship expecting it to end. Most people go into relationships with the mindset that the person they’re with is the person. Unfortunately, people mess up, promises get broken, and eventually, you’re going your separate ways. For people who want to remain friends with exes, they decide that love is enough to fall back on. You try to hold on to that and thus, try to hold on to someone. Except sometimes, a hard decision has to be made. You have to accept that it’s impossible to have it both ways. Friends must become strangers again.
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