He Said, She Said
Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Question: "My ex recently started dating someone else, which is fine, but he still thinks we can be friends. I don’t see any way to make this work. I don’t want to just blow him off completely, but I think we are too close still. It’s not fair to either of us. What should I do?"
You’re not alone on this one. I’ve heard a lot of people feel the same way in your position. It’s going to be uncomfortable when your ex starts dating someone new no matter how clean the breakup was, so it’s totally understandable to keep some space for a while until you’ve moved on.
As my avid followers probably know by now, there are two principles that I continue to base most of my responses on: it’s always better to talk about an issue up front with someone before it snowballs into a bigger problem, and always look out for yourself. I think this situation is another great example of this. If you bring up how you’re feeling with your ex, there’s a really good chance he understands where you’re coming from and will respect that, especially if he still cares about you enough to want to maintain a friendship in the first place. Let him know that down the road your feelings might change about the situation, but, for the time being, you’d prefer to remain cordial but not good friends because it doesn’t feel right to you at the moment.
Ultimately, a friendship takes two people, so even if he doesn’t agree with you on this and continues to make an effort to remain good friends, all you have to do is turn down his invitations to hang out and do your best to not put yourself in situations where you might have to socialize with him, and the friendship will fizzle out naturally. If he’s dating another girl now, I can’t imagine he’d continue to aggressively pursue a friendship with you if you make it clear that you have no interest in that. There’s nothing wrong with choosing not to be friends with someone, and as long as you remain respectful and polite to them then you have nothing to worry about.
This is definitely a frequent problem for recent exes. The first time your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend gets a new significant other, it’s obviously a tough thing to handle because it will either catalyze an emotional breakdown or make you realize that things between you are officially over (depending on how the break up went).
The issue of staying friends or not is also something that typically varies from couple to couple. It sounds like you don’t think being friends is a good idea, for whatever reason. Usually dirty break ups cause this, and if that’s what your gut tells you, go with that. I know you might feel like you’re blowing him off and you obviously still have some leftover feelings of loyalty for him, but sometimes the hardest thing to realize is that once your relationship ends, the emotional involvement ends right along with it. I’m not sure what the conditions for your break up were, but never feel guilty for moving on for yourself. You shouldn’t force yourself to still be mentally committed to someone you’ve ended a relationship with, and if being friends isn’t a possibility, go with it. Explain to your ex if the issue arises that you’re not ready or able to be in a friendship with him so soon after you’re broken up.
Maybe things will change at some point, but for right now, the best thing is to be honest with both him and yourself. I’ve found that this is a problem for a lot of people I’ve spoken to, and it’s admittedly difficult, but your head and your heart will definitely thank you later.