One of the issues that gets frequently discussed and debated in dating and relationships is the whole issue of trying to remain friends with your ex. I’ve written about it so many times over the years and yet I continue to be baffled as to why particularly with women, we seem to have a hardcore desire to throw ourselves at the frontline of pain. As I read through the comments on Facebook over the weekend, I felt compelled to revisit the subject and I want to remind you of why it is a grave mistake to remain friends with an ex that has mistreated you.
The reason why we want to remain friends with our exes, even when they have treated us ‘less than’ with an absence of love, care, trust, and respect, is because we want to feel valid. We often spend so long feeling invalid, friendship is like the last chance saloon.
We’ve expended emotions and energy on the other person and are heavily invested and bad enough to feel rejected because they cannot (or refuse to) be and do as we would like them to, but we then convince ourselves that if we do not continue to be a part of their lives after they break up, we’ll feel even more rejected and invalid because we’re not even good enough to be kept around on the periphery zone as a friend.
It’s not just feeling valid though that will have you itching to offer or take the hand of friendship. It’s hoping that they’ll miss you enough to come crawling back on their hands and knees and beg to be taken back. It’s wanting to be there on some terms rather than no terms. It’s trying to be The Good Girl (or The Good Guy) because you don’t want to seem like you’re being immature. It’s a willingness to accept a downgrade because you think you can shag your way back up to being the girlfriend. It’s wanting to keep tabs on them and to have a hand in their lives.
More importantly, remaining friends with your ex, aside from being some sort of validation of your worthiness, the act in itself makes the process of letting go somewhat less painful. Call it putting off the inevitable.
However, when someone has treated you with an absence of love, care, trust, and respect, attempting to remain their friend in any capacity is a grave mistake that those who attempt it learn about all too quickly.
When you choose to remain friends with someone who didn’t treat you well, you actually validate whatever negative ideas that they have about you plus it’s like giving them a Get Out of Assclown Jail Free Card. You see in life, there are universal societal norms that exist whether you live in a big city, tiny town, little village or a mudhut in the middle of a jungle and it’s this:
When we break up with someone, if we really have treated them badly, they will not want to be our friend. If they do offer or accept the hand of friendship, then it means I’m Not That Bad, after all, I’m good enough to be considered a friend.
In the hands of someone who has at best taken advantage of you and at its worst, abused you, you are screaming with your actions ‘I DON’T RESPECT MYSELF ENOUGH‘.
Whatever deluded ideas they have about their reasons for not treating you decently in the relationship, you just legitimised them. They just got off scot free and should you ever find yourself in the position of telling them all about themselves, some will have no shame in reminding you that you either offered or accepted the hand of friendship.
Life requires consequences and it is the only way that we learn from our actions and get to connect the dots with what results. If more assclowns experienced consequences, they’d feel enough of a negative impact to start addressing their issues.
If the consequence that you create for someone after they have used you up in a relationship, is to not only offer or take the hand of friendship, but to continue to be there for a shag, an ego stroke, or a shoulder to lean on, hanging around, waiting for scraps of attention and behaving like a dutiful friend, the only ‘consequence’ that they are learning is that they can continue to reap the fringe benefits of your misguided affections. There are certainly no negative consequences.
Let me say as I’ve said many times before: If someone didn’t treat you with love, care, trust, and respect in the relationship, you can be damn sure that they will not make a friend of any reasonable level once you’re out. The same person that doesn’t give a damn about your feelings isn’t going to give a hoot when it’s over. They’re not thinking about you; they’re thinking about them.
Have some self-respect because trying to be friends with someone who has little or no respect for you will rob you of your dignity. That’s you robbing you, not them.
Every.Single.Time you play happy clapper friends with an ex that mistreated you, you’re saying I love you more than I love myself and you didn’t actually treat me as badly as you know or I know you did, because if you did, there’s no way in hell I should be giving you the time of day let alone anything else. That doesn’t actually mean that what they did didn’t happen, but it’s you that’s watering it down by trying to massage your ego with friendship. You’re marginalising yourself and you’re also marginalising what you experienced. You want them to have even an iota of an idea of what they have put you through? Cut.Them.Off. Let them miss out on you. Let them go and mess with someone else.
It is not your job to fix/heal/help or teach them a lesson so that you get to be right and validated.
In life, when it comes to breaking up, we all have narcissistic tendencies. We want to feel less rejected or feel like less of an asshole. But it’s best to keep your ego in check because if you let these desires overwhelm and hijack you, you will make friends with the wolf or if you’re the assclown, ‘friendship fake’ to make yourself feel less of a creep.
If you broke up with someone because they couldn’t give you the relationship you want and they treated you without love, care, trust, and respect, your only option is to distance yourself from them so that you can grieve the relationship and move on. Don’t try to be their friend so you can validate yourself and be ‘right’ because you’re doing it at the expense of your self-respect.
Use No Contact for several months and put a complete focus on you, and if after you have genuinely spent 100% of your efforts distancing yourself from the source of your pain and doing everything to let go of the relationship, heal, and move on, you still feel a burning desire to be their friend, go ahead and put your hand in the fire. Trust me when I say it will still burn, but it’ll be a lesson learned.
There is another universal relationship norm that many people believe in which is that you should attempt to be friends with your ex. What is forgotten is that you should only attempt to be friends with an ex that 1) treated you well and 2) when enough time has passed and you have both gotten over the loss of the relationship. Let me assure you, for those of you hankering for friendship with people who didn’t treat you well, this is not you and it would serve you well to remember how poorly you were treated instead of trying to magic up a friendship out of thin air.