Why it's OK to not be friends with your ex (maybe ever)
Breaking up sucks. Even if you want to break up, even if it’s the right thing to do, it sucks. It’s hard to go from picnics and cuddles to zero contact and awkwardness. And as much as it feels easier to say “let’s just be friends,” the prospect of being friends with someone post breakup is daunting and confusing.
People often disagree with me when I tell them being friends immediately after being in a relationship isn’t healthy. There should be a little breathing room in between the major change in nature between you. And while I am happily friends with many of my exes, it didn’t happen over night. And for some of my exes? I absolutely, under no circumstances, want to be friends with them. Ever.
It’s okay to not want to be friends with your ex, or anyone for that matter. Even if you can’t really come up with a specific reason why you want distance. Your heart or mind needing space is a good sign you still have some things to work through before you can begin to think about the new relationship you want to build with your ex. Time allows us to heal and repair all the squishy parts that got bruised. It’s a beautiful gift for your heart and while it may not heal all of the wounds, time will heal damn near all of them.
Then there are the bad exes—the real monster heartache ones, the ones who crossed a line. betrayed your trust, or intentionally hurt you. Those people suck. Don’t be friends with them, they don’t deserve your friendship.
Sometimes want our exes to stay our friends because we aren’t sure what to do with their absence. It’s hard to know a person you regularly kiss and hug and then have them suddenly disappear. But this can be a dangerous mistake: Back-pedaling on a smart decision, misleading your ex, and confusing yourself are all possible outcomes of rushing friendship post break up. And while I used to hate when my momma would tell me “maybe you just need some time for yourself,” she was always right. Maybe you do just need some time for yourself! And maybe you aren’t ready to be friends with your ex. And maybe you never really wanna be friends with your ex, and that’s okay. I promise, it’s okay.
Setting boundaries doesn’t mean you’re trying to hurt your ex, or even that you don’t like you ex, it simple means you are not ready to be near that person. And if you hope to one day be friends with them, you really ought to give yourself the space you need to heal, forgive and move on. Friendship is beautiful, but not if it’s spotted with aches and pains stemming from a romantic relationship gone south.
I know it’s scary thinking about all this stuff, and chances are if you’re reading this you’ve recently broken up with someone. I’m sorry. I know it feels icky and life can feel a little blue and dusty, but it will pass. And you will have a kaleidoscope heart again. In the meantime, make sure you’re honoring your feelings and not pretending to like someone you just aren’t ready to like again—or maybe ever.