Even Though He’s Totally Seen Me Naked
Being friends post-relationship is potentially the hardest feat mankind has ever known. During the break up process, none of us are on our best behavior… and I am certainly not to be excluded. — Like, AT. ALL. — It’s a haze of nasty text messages, Indian giving, subliminal Instagram shots, and full throttle, nearly actionable defamation. Basically, maturity is entirely out of the window and everyone suddenly becomes in-tune with their inner eight year old.
However, once the “fuck yous” have been said, the pretend snap chat flexing has concluded, and the stolen collection of basketball shorts have been stored away for safekeeping : is it possible to be friends?
One of my favorite relationships was the one that I had in college… And not because it was stable. -_- but because we were so young, so passionate, and we loved like we had never been hurt (because we hadn’t…. Yet). Many of you may remember us because, well, we were always standing outside of frat parties, dorm rooms and night clubs at the “let out”… SCREAMING AT EACH OTHER… only to show up in “The Caf” the next morning hand in hand. (We were like, 19 : No judgment). Well, needless to say: we broke up (surprise!). What followed was an emotional roller coaster of some epicly bat shit crazy — what I can only describe as — mayhem. Utter mayhem.
From the moment that it ended, I think that we both wanted to be friends because…. that’s how we started. Before he ever saw me naked, him and I were good friends. (Although, Let him tell it: I was entirely alone in my assessment because, according to him, “we were never friends” and he had a whole other agenda: 🍆. #GuessHeWon) Nonetheless, in light of our longstanding friendship that once was, it only makes sense that we would periodically attempt to revive it along the way… wanting the passionate mess that we made to revert back to the platonic, diplomatic friendship that existed prior. In doing this, my former rival and I fought over literally EVERYTHING in the past 8 — 9 years including, but def not limited to, adequate division of mutual friends, new relationship rights, petty demands for the safe return of previously exchanged expensive Christmas gifts, annnnnd custody of MY dog. We even had an extremely short lived, entirely awkward reconciliation (that we literally NEVER talk about).
However, eventually, we succeeded. When people encounter us out and about as friends, we have been asked on numerous occasions how we got to be so civil, so chummy post break up. While I would love to stand before you all and credit it to our emotional maturity and introspection: that would be a damn lie. So, through our trial and error, I can explain some of the lessons that we learned.
THE “GRIEVING PROCESS” is totally weird.
M y (slightly older) cousin, Maria, AKA — My unlicensed therapist — has always said to me : “breaking up is like someone that you love just died. The grieving process is the same… because someone that you were with just yesterday is no longer within reach. They’re gone.” And, even if you weren’t head over heels in love: THAT BLOWS.
With each person progressing through the stages of grief at their own, individual pace, it is unlikely that you will find yourselves on the same page at the same time emotionally. For obvious reasons, mismatched emotion creates a recipe for disaster. While one may adjust to single life and newfound freedom with relative ease (i.e. immediate enrollment on tinder and checking off ‘SINGLE’ on Facebook… with enthusiasm!), the other may still be holding onto relationship memorabilia and trying to build up the courage to delete the social network shrines of what once was.
One of the stages of grief — the first one, is… Acceptance. That is, accepting that your relationship is, in all actuality, quite over. It is impossible to move on from someone until you have ‘accepted’ that what you once had exists no longer. In the initial stages of recovery, people often attempt to press reset under the guise of “friendship” because their denial drives them to do so. This is sort of an ill fated plan driven by desperate emotions.
Listen: Hope is a hell of a drug... especially when it’s all you’ve got. Specifically in your younger crazier relationships, love can operate similar to drug addiction and ex-lovers often seek fixes post-relationship. Each encounter afterward can be similar to getting high followed by a rapid downward spiral… and a prolonging of the process.
In light of all of this shit, it is my opinion, that you don’t want to be there to bear witness to each other’s progression through the stages.
Therefore, (Time) + (Space)
Friendship often sounds like amicable goodness but often, it is incredibly superficial when it occurs too close to the end of a relationship. Although we want to believe that relationships can morph into friendships within mili-seconds, this just isn’t realistic. From my experience, the only way that this transition may occur without anyone ending up on The First 48 is through the utter relinquishment of urgency.
OUR TIMELINE demonstrates just that.
First, he became my boyfriend-not-boyfriend
First, we attempted to be friends immediately after our break up -AND THAT- led to sex…. -AND THAT- led to fighting. All the while,none of it really ever seemed too uh… friendly…?
I n a moment of drunken vulnerability, standing outside of Tootsies Cabaret at four AM with a negative balance on your debit card and a lonely bed to retreat to… one of you calls the other… and says “what are you doing?” And of course, because ex-D is and always will be, by far, the most convenient D In America (because it KNOWS you), you end up doing the nasty…
And here, the ambiguity begins.
Before you know it, you’re spending days together… nights together… time on the phone.. Sleeping over… annnnnd tada: you’re in “No-Mans Land” (literally)… with a boyfriend. Even worse than that: he’s not really even your boyfriend.
In the short term, perhaps it feels cozy, familiar… and comfortable: very grey sweat pants, no makeup, hair in a bun… unlike the random guys that you’ve been going on awkward dates with doing the “sooooo-what’s-your-favorite-color?”-thing. But in the long term, a few Friday nights from now, this shit will inevitably blow up
Unfortunately, let us recall the grieving process and the distinct individualism of the progress made. “Platonic” reunification too soon after can have drastically different results in perception to those involved, dependent on how far advanced they are in their grief management. While one person may believe that this is the fateful renewal of the love that was destined to be (I.e. The drug of hope) , the other may be wondering how thee fuck to politely kick his/her ex out in the morning in time for brunch with a new love interest… and chances are : there are a lot of those couples who fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum of emotions.
Eventually the couple [that is NOT actually a couple] will start asking each other questions — some invasive, some hopeful — and the answers may very well be quite ugly…
Jealousy: For us, neither was ready to discover that either one was casually seeing someone else. In hindsight: we both were and we lied and swore on religious sacraments about it to each other. Hell, we were within our rights to do so but of course, it was too new and too fresh to be admitted. But then when the FAU rumor mill caught up with the two of us: we found ourselves looking at each other crazy. And what followed next would make even Chris Brown and Kerruchi blush.
Still pissed: We were still pissed. We were pissed enough to get RE-PISSED over the very plethora of experiences/occurrences that broke us up to begin with. The relentless fighting was reinstated almost immediately… because we had not yet recovered. He still wanted to know why in thee fuck I found it to be perfectly appropriate to wear lingerie to the Annual Sigma Lingerie Party last year WHEN I WAS IN A RELATIONSHIP and I still wanted to know “who the fuck is Michelle?!” And so… our re-war began annnnd we weren’t even together. -_-
Additionally, we remained sort of stagnant. We ended… for logical reasons but we carried on nonetheless for security reasons and fear of entering the unknown. However, if we weren’t right for each other, a measly month apart didn’t alter the situation. And instead of adjusting to new lives as single people, we sought shelter from an unhealthy place: each other.
We essentially carried on this way until I met someone.
THEN- HE BECAME SOMEONE ELSE’S BOYFRIEND
Then, perhaps a year after our break up, we attempted to be friends when we were both in long term relationships with other people — THAT led to his new thug life girlfriend issuing terroristic threats in my direction and my new boyfriend issuing ultimatums. In other words: I got in trouble with everyone while he totally escaped liability.
This part here was nothing short of a shit show. The two of us engaged in some of thee most petty, subliminal I’m-happier-than-youuuu nah-nah-nun-boo-boo bull shit that ever existed. As friends now : we can laugh about how much of a facade it all truly was. Although the passion had somewhat cooled, our fragile “friendship” was quite antagonistic in nature. Instead of an actual friendship, it was more of an ongoing tournament to the death in order to prove that we could be successful without one another.
I think that we’d be lying if we said that we didn’t engage in some silent comparisons of the man and woman that filled our places back then. He had to adjust to sharing a gym membership to the same LA fitness basketball court frequented by my new lover and I resorted to forbidding our mutual friends from exchanging even the most casual of greetings with the new lady of his life. As mutual as our separation was, we wondered “what’s this other person got that I don’t?” She wasn’t a part of the plan. Even if I didn’t want to be with him, he was supposed to be SINGLE (-like, for life-) so that I could toot my nose in the air when he begged for me back with an “I told you that no woman in America would put up with your dumb ass” face on. But, here comes this bitch… putting up with it… and shit… #wtf?!
Our new romantic interests weren’t too appreciative of our behavior in relation to one another either… Obvi. It’s hard to explain to a new boyfriend/girlfriend why you’re pissed that your ex also has a new love. Ummm… yeah. -_-
But, clearly, if anything was evident: it was that our friendship wasn’t ripe even then.
LAST- AT SOME POINT, HE BECAME MY BFFL
When our relationships with other people ended, we found ourselves on the phone one night. Being honest and shit.
So, we arrived here.
Our friendship now isn’t perfect… but it’s close. And it only took 5 years and a million curse words to get here. He still periodically unfriends me on Instagram and it’s quite possible that this blog may be deleted at any given moment if I get pissed and decide that he, In fact, ☝🏼️isn’t my “favorite ex boyfriend” ….anymore.
However, in these years, my arch enemy turnt BFFL and I have had to re-familiarize ourselves with one another in the friendship arena. The boy that I loved all of those years ago was a hotheaded 19 year old with dreadlocks that collected fitted caps and the girl that he loved was a filterless mixed girl with blonde weave and a nose ring attempting to impersonate Beyonce… and failing, tragically. He’s since cut his hair and I’ve dyed mine black… and we’ve grown up from diehard rebels to moderate conformists (with spazz). In other words, while we are the same : we are very much different than we once were. So our hellos were very much goodbyes to our former selves and with time, we have mastered our final resting chapter.
Our friendship now is very similar to any other friendship: we call each other on good days to share in our accomplishments and we rely on each other when we get stuck in jams…he still does a phenomenally hilarious impression of my voice, after having been subjected to my relentless nagging for years. I can call him whining about blind date nightmares with the guy that failed to mention that he’s a little man and I can help him set up his tinder account… without flinching. Best of all, we can now laugh about things that once caused tears as he explains that I was correct in suspecting that he was seeing Michelle on the side… and I admit that I very well may have been engaged in a torrid emotional affair with Sheldon… And all of the trifling college-relationship-shit just makes us laugh now.
There are significant benefits because he offers a unique perspective of having previously dated me sooooo when I tell a story of a romantic interest, he has empathy for “the poor guy” involved and challenges me to look from the opposite angle. And I return the favor.
For the skeptics: Are we still attracted to each other? Well, yes. Despite the centimeters of difference in his hair line and the five or ten pounds that nearing thirty has added to me, we still occasionally respond to each others social network thirst traps (which were entirely intended for other people). With experience, however, there is a very definite “been there done that” vibe of exhaustion that follows any formed twinkle of attraction between us. With that being said, I am not naive: I must always remember that he is still very much A GUY and, after all, if I were to disrobe in front of him: he would likely rise to the occasion without hesitation.
While this fucked up conundrum isn’t for everyone and isn’t a likely result in most relationships (nor should it be), it is a possibility…