It’s probably the most significant and meaningful friendship I’ve ever had, but also the most unusual. Not because I’m a boy and she’s a girl. Boy/girl BFF’s have been a thing forever, right Will and Grace? Okay, maybe they’re a bad example. What makes our relationship so unique — and what tends to raise some eyebrows — is that she’s also my ex. Outsiders have a hard time comprehending that two people, who used to be in love with each other, can maintain a healthy friendship that’s untainted by the complexities of an intimate relationship gone awry. After a breakup, isn’t everything, well, broken?
Not necessarily. Which brings me to my first, and most crucial point in this, my mini guide to staying friends with your ex.
Why did you break-up?
This is critical and it needs to be assessed if you have any hopes of building a solid friendship afterward. If the end of your relationship was toxic, the likelihood of forging a legitimate friendship amidst the wreckage is slim. Don’t get me wrong, the power of time and its ability to heal all wounds should never be underestimated, but ending things as friends instead of mortal enemies makes the transition a whole lot easier. We didn’t break up because of infidelity or constant arguing or the attempted murder of a pet. Our relationship ended because we stopped having sex. Though we still had mad love, we just didn’t make it anymore. After a while, the lens through which I saw her shifted: She became more like my sister than my girlfriend. And, well, that was that. It ended up working out for the best, though, because in order to remain friends after breaking up, you must...
Never, Ever Have Sex
A question I get asked all the time: “You mean you guys really don’t do it anymore?
Like ever. And, that is without a doubt, the most important thing to remember here. No cuddling, no kissing, and no sexing. If it didn’t work for Elaine and Jerry, it’s not going to work for you. If you’re still sexually attracted to each other, fuggedaboutit. A friendship won’t work. Friends aren’t supposed to have sex, because sex is complicated. And, when there’s no real commitment involved people tend to get hurt. Gawd, have the movies taught you guys nothing!? That’s why we were able to make the transition from lovers to friends so smoothly. Sexual attraction is no longer a part of the equation. We can sit beside each other on a couch and watch Shame over and over again, without feeling the need to ride each other’s surfboards. We go elsewhere for that, and we...
Okay, that’s not entirely true, but it did take us a while before we became fully comfortable discussing each other’s sex lives. That’s not because we were still in love, but because when you’re so used to having something one way, it’s tough to watch it go another. Ch-ch-ch-changes, they’re never easy. Again, time is the key ingredient. They should sell bottles of it over the counter, right next to the Advil. Still, even after five years of friendship, what we do in the bedroom with other people is not exactly a preferred topic of conversation, because, yuck, as I said earlier, she’s like my sister. But, once we became okay with the idea of seeing each other with other people, everything else fell into place. That is by far, the greatest emotional hurdle to get over. Remember...
None of this is Easy
But, boy is it worth it. If you love someone enough, just because you didn’t work out as a couple, it doesn’t mean you won’t work out as friends. It’s up to you to identify the reasons you were with this person in the first place and determine whether or not they will transition into a new phase of your relationship, one that, trust me, has the potential to be lot more fulfilling than the previous iteration. It worked for me and Kate Upton! Shoot, I probably shouldn’t have given away her identity. Oh well. She’ll forgive me, because that’s what best friends do.
Illustrated by Sydney Hass