Here’s when “just friends” actually makes sense
Back in January, I met my dream guy. Or so I thought. He was handsome, kind, funny to boot, and valued hard work and frugality just as I do. Six months in, we were already planning to move in together, adopt a dog or two, and get married within a year.
While to our friends we seemed like the couple straight out of a Hallmark movie, we were both drowning in self-imposed pressure and resentment.
From the beginning, I saw him as the perfect human being. And I assumed he expected me to be just as perfect as he was. And little did I know that he was thinking the same about me the whole time. Then during the late summer and fall of this year, I began to see the real Achilles heel of our relationship. We’re both pretty intense people, and my unofficial moving in for several months during covid, exposed our mutual inability to compromise.
Less than a week after our rather messy breakup, however, he became one of my best friends. Here’s when your Mr. Almost just might turn into your best friend and partner in crime:
You’re So Similar That You Bicker Nonstop
In hindsight, my ex and I moved way too fast. We didn’t realize it as much at the time because we were so excited to have found each other. We’d both struggled in the past to find partners that shared our core values and vision for the future. That scarcity mentality then led us to force our relationship to work at all costs. Ultimately, the similarity we were so excited to have found in each other was what ultimately doomed the relationship.
I’m thankful to have met and had a failed relationship with what I thought was my perfect match. It taught me that while shared values are a must, there is some truth to the adage that opposites attract. Compromise is essential for any long-term relationship to succeed. And having twin personalities renders that nearly impossible.
If your relationship is fraught with arguments about the same few issues and compromises are few and far between, consider pursuing friendship instead. Becoming best friends with my ex has allowed me to extract all of the fun and excitement from the honeymoon phase of our relationship without so much conflict.
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One wrong step and they plunge. Gracefully the two climbers made their way back to the ground. There they were…
You Still Respect Them
While my relationship ended on a somewhat dramatic note, our friendship still works because we never lost respect for each other.
If you find yourself missing your ex or feel the need to remain friends for the sake of retaining mutual friends, take a pause to consider your overall opinion of your ex.
If you’re still seething over a past slight from or feel the need to badmouth your former partner to anyone who will listen, staying friends is not a winning strategy at this stage. While breakups often require starting over to an extent, simply wanting to avoid the inconvenience of making other friends is not reason enough to maintain even a friendship with someone you don’t respect.
You’re Learning A Lot From Each Other
I’m a firm believer in seeking out and maintaining relationships with those that challenge me to be better. It just so happens that my ex is one of those people. Even though our relationship didn’t work out, it seemed silly to cut someone out of my life that makes me a better person.
Barring any red flags from your ex (i.e. poor treatment or loss of respect), I highly recommend keeping them in your life so that you can still grow together without the pressure inherent in a romantic relationship.
You Want The Best For Them
If I had any ill will towards my ex, a friendship with him simply would not work. We want the best for each other and actively take joy in seeing one another succeed. Consequently, we help each other succeed without feeling the need to keep score. Oddly enough, we feel like we’re on the same team much more now than we did as a couple.
If you still harbor any resentment towards your ex, determine whether or not it’s something you can reasonably move past. In my case, I was upset with my ex about a few bigger things at the time of our breakup. I made the call to move forward with a friendship, however, because those lingering issues were ones that could be talked through rather than glaring fundamental disagreements or instances where I’d been egregiously mistreated by an ex partner.
You Feel Comfortable Clearing The Air
Lingering frictions from a breakup are natural. If you can respectfully talk through them with your ex and then consider the matter closed, you may be ready to be friends. If not, I wouldn’t necessarily write off the idea of friendship one day. But I’d give it some time.
You’ve Talked About Dating Other People
My ex and I still have quite a bit of love for one another. While we’re happy with our relationship today, we also know that in the future we will have to tweak our relationship when new romantic partners enter the fray. While we don’t have a solid plan for that eventuality or even know what our friendship may look like in a few years, having that conversation as candidly as possible is a must.