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1. A friendship with a hidden agenda is not mutual or a friendship. Friendship is platonic, so if you try to be friends with your ex when what you’re really doing is re-auditioning for your ‘old role’ or even trying to upgrade from ex bit part player (read: booty call or friends with benefits) to the lead role, not only do you have ulterior motives which in the wrong hands will be at best taken advantage of and at worst abused, but you will put yourself in a very imbalanced and precarious position that will mess with your head and your life.
You won’t truly be able to forge a friendship with an ex until you’re over them. Unless you want to put yourself through all sorts of agony, put ideas of friendship on the backburner and have some healthy space from one another.
2. Eau de Desperation isn’t attractive even when the relationship is over. You’re not that desperate. Really. If you’re going to be friends, do it authentically, not because you’d rather have them on some rather than no terms. It’s like grasping at straws, sometimes pubic ones. When you’re inclined to make judgements about yourself off the back of Other People’s Behaviour, hanging onto the dodgiest of friendships after a breakup is a way of feeling less rejected – stop seeking a rejection retraction. You will only end up feeling worse and this is a time for you to be nurturing you.
3. Friends don’t try to eff you, eff you over, or to eff with your mind. I’m not foolish enough to think that in the first month or so after a breakup that you might not have “…one last shag for old times sake” or see each other at a wedding or wherever months later and have a “drunken one-off”, but an ex pulling The Friend Card and then tapping you for a shag as often as possible, tapping your for money or for an ego stroke behind a new partner’s back, or playing mind games with you? Er, NO.
They’ve taken the first letter in ‘friendship’ and run in an entirely different direction.
Sex with an ex can seem like the easiest option as it’s ‘familiar’, ‘comfortable’ and let’s be real, ‘easier’ than going out there and having to put in all that effort for a ‘new’ person, but guess what? When the sex is over, you’re still an ex. Also – and you’d be surprised how many fall for this – the fact that they want to shag you or you’ve shagged doesn’t mean you’re getting back together!
Let me tell you straight – if an ex wants to get back together with you, they won’t pull down your pants first.
As for being screwed over or them pulling some mind f*ckery on you – rest assured that if someone pulled all sorts of rinky dink behaviour on you when you were together, they will do it to you when you’re apart. Don’t give them any room in your life. Stop trying to understand them and stop giving them chances – unless you go around screwing people over and being manipulative or even narcissistic, you will never understand them.
4. Friendship is a two-way street. If all you’re doing is graduating from doormat in a relationship to doormat friend, it’s time to stand tall and gather up your self-respect. If you’re chasing them down to be friends, stop. You must understand – the great majority of people play The Friend Card after a breakup. It’s the polite thing to do and at least one of you will feel like less of a heel, and one of you will feel more hopeful than you should.
Don’t go from a non-mutual relationship to a non-mutual friendship.
5. Friendship is organic. Please.stop.forcing.it. I hear the most painful stories of readers practically beating down exes doors to demand the friendship that was ‘promised’. Just like you cannot force someone to do something as basic as pick up the phone, to make an effort, or to commit, you cannot force friendship and why the hell would you want to? And please don’t do the “Oh well when I say that I’m friends with someone…” or “Well I do this and that when I’m a friend so why don’t they?” – you and they are not the same person. Don’t lose your dignity by trying to make people do as you would. You have different values – it’s probably why you’re no longer together…
Let it be – if friendship with an ex is going to happen, it’s not going to be because you kept orchestrating ‘opportunities’ for it.
6. Never be friends with an ex to give them the ‘opportunity’ to treat you better. This isn’t The X Factor where you offer up a wildcard. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because they don’t have the pressure of a relationship that they’ll act better – you are setting yourself up for a fall. Put your energy into yourself.
7. Evaluate where an ex that mistreated you fits into your future. How will you introduce them to a new partner? Don’t you think it will be a bit odd when you say why you broke up? The friendship will convey all of the wrong messages about you – you can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep.
You do know that people are suspicious of those who claim they’re friends with all of their exes, don’t you? It’s like collecting trophies that say “I’m so special, all of my ex’s want to stay friends with me”. In the small print it says “…and slip me a shag, an ego stroke, and a shoulder to lean on”.
I’m all for staying genuine friends with exes, but if you tend to harbour feelings for them and have been slipping them a piece, it’s time to cut ties as you’re unavailable for an available relationship.
8. You’re not really friends when you’re practically stalking them. Checking their Facebook profile as soon as you wake and trawling their mutual friends? Hanging around outside their favourite places? Putting up fake profiles on dating sites? Texting and calling all the time, even when they don’t respond? Stop. It may be a good time to spend some time with a professional, especially if you feel like you ‘can’t’ stop and it’s impacting greatly on your life.
9. If you’re maintaining a ‘friendship’ with a view to keeping them as a rainy day option or out of fear that your old ‘investment’ may be snapped up by someone else, you’re like a dog in a manger; you don’t want them but you don’t want anyone else to have them either. It’s also like keeping guard so that you can say “Oh thank goodness! They really are no good!” This is not friendship and the worst thing is, if you’ve ever been with Mr or Miss Unavailable, you hate being on the receiving end of this.
10. It’s impossible to let go and grieve the loss of the relationship, if you’re still holding out hope. A ‘friendship’ to stem the loss, will delay the inevitable and possibly make it worse. Accept that it’s over first before you go down the friendship route.
If you’re going to be friends, it can wait a few months until you’re in a better place.
11. Friendship is more than a word – it’s a sum of consistent and repeated actions. If you’re not treated like a friend or you’re not treating them as such, someone is going to end up very hurt and disappointed. Ensure that you don’t have relationship expectations and be prepared to walk if they treat you in a less than friendly manner.
Be a very good friend to you first so that you are best placed to make healthy choices about who you invite into and back into your life. Even when you’re in a relationship, you should always be a best friend to you that you can rely on – it’ll prevent you from selling yourself short.
About the Author:
Natalie Lue is the founder and writer of Baggage Reclaim and author of the books Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl, The Dreamer and the Fantasy Relationship and more. Learn more about her here and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter - @baggagereclaim .
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