Home > on something > On This Whole ‘Let’s Be Friends’ Thing

On This Whole ‘Let’s Be Friends’ Thing

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question on Twitter and I wanted to repose the question here, not because I want an answer (though I’m sure there will be plenty). What I’m really looking for is discussion about the question itself. Here’s it is:

Why do we say the best relationships come from friendship, but try to remain friends with someone after we’ve broken up with him or her?

Like, we say we can be friends, but do we ever mean it? And if we do mean it, doesn’t it keep the possibility of us being something more on the table? I’ve always valued friendship in the wake of a break up, not just because I wanted to avoid having been in those relationships in vain but also because I thought, if I care about this person as much as I say I do, well friendship will bring that truth to light.

So what, if anything, are we lying to ourselves about? Do we really need to be friends with a person before we get into a relationship with them or if we break up with a person we were in a relationship with, is the effort towards remaining friends a farce?

Discuss.

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The Process: Workout was off to a slow start, but eventually got into a rhythm. Going to my mental gym tonight, aka, church.

Poppin’ Questions Podcast: Now up, Episode 29! Click here to listen. Hit me on my Formspring or email me at feedback@untiligetmarried.com for a question to be considered for Episode 30.

The #UIGM Twitter Conversation: Tonight, it’s going down at 10 p.m. EST. I’ll be on Twitter for about 30 minutes discussing a topic of my choosing. It won’t be related to what I have posted today (that’s for discussion in the comments), but it will be, ummm, interesting. You’ll see if you join in tonight. Hashtag #UIGM

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  • pintsizedinFluence

    I am friends with most of the men I’ve dated. Most of them were good dudes, just not for me.

  • Ceej

    Great questions posed & this is sure to be an ongoing discussion.

    I am not certain I agree with the statement anymore, that the best relationships are built on friendships. I believe that what fuels people to think that is actually two things that often come from being friends first which is: respect & transparency.

    You respect your friends because you value their opinions, the way they live their lives and their character. You trust them and are comfortable with them and therefore transparent about who you are. You don’t give your friends a “representative”. They see the real good, lovely, bad, ugly YOU.

    People want that from their romantic partner as well. They want to beleive they see you for who you are and are making a sound decision on their feelings for you based on the reality of who you are. Respect is also HUGE. When in relationships or dating people (that don’t spawn from friendships) set unrealistic expectations and have certain demands and “no-no’s”. We have less tolerance for the other person simply being HUMAN. We take a real harsh stance on forgiving their mistakes and leave them no real room for error. We allow our friends all of that, but a person we’ve been on three dates with? Not so much. So dating a friend becomes very alluring because you both allow each other room to be yourself.

    It takes time, but I beleive that if you moved forward into dating someone new with the two goals in mind, to respect each other and be transparent, then you wouldn’t NEED to be friends first and it would no longer be considered better to have been friends first.

    I have lost a couple great friends because it turned into something more. I was unable to return to that place of being a real friend to them because of what they had done to me during our romantic relationship. I couldn’t see how someone who said they truly cared about and loved me and valued the person I was could even fathom hurting me, breaking my heart or putting me through (insert reason for demise here).

    I could have kept great friendships were in not for the romantic side.
    The loss has felt like MUCH less when I meet someone, begin to date and then it doesn’t work out. My expectations for them were set differently. I expected them to be men, who I wanted to date, tried… and it didn’t work out with. Not my best friend, who already knew and loved everything about me, I tried a relationship with, and then failed.

    The expectations you have romantically for someone who was once your great friend, are much much higher stakes and therefore much more severe of a fall.

    Just my thoughts.

    Again, great discussion starter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=524903047 Tony Kartez Jones

    This is a tough one. Depends. If you were really in love. Sometimes you can be friends but just not right away.

  • Cookie_is_my_name

    I’ve said it before…friendship at the end of a relationship is a shitty consolation prize. If you have to bargain for friendship at the end, you know you weren’t friends at the beginning. Real friends just do it, like Nike.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OYIVN3AAKTPLR3E2PJUVN5RWB4 RichBrand

    There are some you can be friends with and others you can’t. it all depends upon the dynamics of how it started and how it ended. Women I have fallen for, and vice versa, have been cut out of my life completely with the exception of one, and even that situation is very VERY limited (because she’s married now).

  • Anonymous

    “Do we really need to be friends with a person before we get into a relationship with them or if we break up with a person we were in a relationship with, is the effort towards remaining friends a farce?”- I don’t think you need to be friends before you get into a relationship. A friendship can/should happen in the course of the relationship.
    As Ceej said, I think people that are great friends might expect too much from a romantic relationship and if the needs aren’t met it can destroy the friendship.

    But after??? Depends on the breakup and the relationship. Some people NEED to be and ex and have no further contact. Lately I have been looking at relationships as phases in my life and not everyone needs to join me in my next phase.

  • Anonymous

    But soo many mistaken friends as:
    1) a way to get back together
    2) a way to stay sexual partners
    3) not wanting to let go

    In that case, how can you maintain as friends? Especially when you did not start off with those three qualities.

    Also, what happens when one has moved on. Are able to openly speak about another partner with a person who was your ex, who is known as your friend now.

  • KitKatCuty84

    I don’t remain friends if it was a real relationship. If it was casual (and ended well), sure. But I can’t go from contemplating marriage to hanging out platonically. I’m not built like that. My first (and ONLY, so far) love is trying to reconnect. Supposedly platonically. But I don’t know if it’s a good idea. Life is hard. That’s what it all boils down to. We make the best decisions we can.

  • kmooah

    If two past lovers can remain friends, it’s either they are still in love or never were.

  • Guest

    You either Do or Don’t.
    If you Do, consequences are usually at stake; good and or bad.
    IF you Don’t, there’s not worries.
    There will be alot of opinions on this topic because it all depends on the individual’s choice.

  • Anonymous

    I have been friends and remained friendly with a majority of the women with whom I have been intimately involved. If we are not friendly it was all by their choice, my perspective is and has always been that if I cared deeply minus the relationship I do not quit caring. I am comfortable separating the end of our relationship from my feelings.

    It is only natural that you may be influenced to be friends if you hold out hope for a reconciliation but with time and maturity even that is manageable. I get the sense that very often the people who are opposed to being friends ever seem to see it as some penalty for the end of a relationship. I am of the belief that friendship is at the foundation of every good romantic relationship whether they survive or not.

  • Anonymous

    I have been friends and remained friendly with a majority of the women with whom I have been intimately involved. If we are not friendly it was all by their choice, my perspective is and has always been that if I cared deeply minus the relationship I do not quit caring. I am comfortable separating the end of our relationship from my feelings.

    It is only natural that you may be influenced to be friends if you hold out hope for a reconciliation but with time and maturity even that is manageable. I get the sense that very often the people who are opposed to being friends ever seem to see it as some penalty for the end of a relationship. I am of the belief that friendship is at the foundation of every good romantic relationship whether they survive or not.

  • Autumn

    I believe people can still be friends after a relationship. I am still friends with most of the people I dated. However, I believe that a friendship only occured after we both were in a serious relationship with someone else. Being friends too soon can be deadly. There are possibilities of hurting the other person by sharing your good times with your new partner, not knowing your “friend/ex” still has feelings for you. Then there is the possibility of only remaining friends for sexual purposes or just to keep the person in your grasp. I believe that there needs to be time between a relationship and a friendship. Time heals all wounds and time creates new experiences. And with new experinces can come a better friendship.
    I have never had a friend that turned into a lover. Every guy that has approach me showed his “I want to be the boyfriend” card.

  • Tonya

    I can never be friend with someone I was in love with unless I was divorced and had their child and I would have to force myself to be…..

    I don’t need to know when you moved on to another chick….because I will be singing “I hope she cheats on you with a basketball player” even if I was the one who broke up with him.

    My last boyfriend, we broke up, he wanted us to remain friends, and I tried for a second but I quickly saw he just wanted the benefits of being around my “Winning” personality…..eghhhhhh Loan Denied!

  • Tonya

    I can never be friends with someone I was in love with unless I was divorced and had their child and I would have to force myself to be…..

    I don’t need to know when you moved on to another chick….because I will be singing “I hope she cheats on you with a basketball player” even if I was the one who broke up with him.

    My last boyfriend, we broke up, he wanted us to remain friends, and I tried for a second but I quickly saw he just wanted the benefits of being around my “Winning” personality…..eghhhhhh Loan Denied!

  • http://www.bachelorettefiles.wordpress.com eL

    I am currently attempting to “be friends” with my latest ex. It’s been a hard journey that is not quite at the point where we can be real friends, since the break up is still so fresh. I’ve cut off all contact with him except facebook and email, just so that we can keep a connection open when we really need it. A part of the process to becoming “friends” is to set the boundaries of a “friendship.” What those are right now, I’m not quite sure but I;ll let you know when I get there.

    I am not friends with any of my other exes. My take on them, as individuals, is that they no longer have a place in my life where I would actually want to make the effort to continue any kind of relationship with them.

    But this most recent ex is different. We shared a connection that I believe was real and beyond the confines of a romantic relationship. And, no, we were not friends before we got into it together so I can’t fall back on the “because we were friends first” spiel. I want to note that this ex cheated on me in a very deceitful asinine immature way, but I opened myself up to the reality of our relationship before and after… and it’s there. It was once filled with love and kindness. We cared for each other at one point and if we were “meant to be” in each others lives then the two of will have to find a way to redefine our relationship to each other. I learned to let go of the role I once played as his romantic interest, now trying to see what other roles there are to play.

    Remaining friends after a passionate relationship will be hard work, I know this for sure. It may not work at all, but if I want to stay true to the person I believe that I am and that I believe he was, I’ll do my best to keep the relationship positive.

    Don’t know if this answers your question, but it did answer some of mine. Always appreciate your work, Jozen.

  • http://twitter.com/msorvam myrna orvam

    Very thoughtful post, Jozen.
    I think staying friends with an ex is possible, but you really have to be honest with yourself about what it is that you want. You have to ask yourself if you really want to be just friends with someone at face value ..or..hope that the friendship will rekindle a possible future reconciliation. Either way the common denominator is time. Time and in some cases, distance is needed to really figure it out.

    For the most part I’m still friendly with most of my exes..there’s only two that I wouldn’t throw water on if they were on fire..but I’ll save that for another post.

  • Kim

    I ponder this question often, more as of late… I recently was in the “be friends” situation with a guy I’ve dated. He was never my actual boyfriend so I won’t call him an ex, but we were very close. It was hard not to be friends with him because we were friends to begin with, and I pushed the “friendship” because I honestly felt like I needed him in my life. The problem was, was that we were still having sex (even when he was dating others and I was dating others) and I did not realize it at the time, but he was basically using me for sex. It hurt me because I still had and will probably always have strong feelings for him and he used that against me in the long run.

    We, of course, are not friends now, but I do miss him very much. So I do think you can be with an ex if there are no feelings involved and you keep it as strictly a friendship… When there are feelings and sex it becomes one big mess. But, everything is a learning experience and I have DEFINITELY learned from this experience and I will NEVER let myself be taken advantage of again.

  • Jessica

    For the first question about the best relationships come from friendships first I agree. I think that is only because in friendship we begin to really get to know people…the REAL person…not the persona that they portray during courting/infatuation where they put out what they think they SHOULD put out or try to be who they think you would like. The same could be said if people actually dated properly…which is to say that one should date to gather data about the other person. Too many people jump into relationships too fast before getting to know someone and so when the real person steps up a lot of people wind up breaking up.

    For the second part about staying friends my theory is this. YOU ARE NO LONGER FRIENDS WITH YOUR EX EITHER BECAUSE YOU STILL LOVE THEM OR YOU NEVER DID. Just because you care about someone does not mean they need to be a constant part of your life. All things are beautiful in their time, and once time has ran its course they are no longer meant for our lives. Sometimes we try to hold onto things that we are supposed to simply let go of. You can remain acquaintances with an ex but to truly be a REAL friend…I dunno about that one. I think we throw the term “friend” around too losely as well….but then again these are just my theories on life.

  • Tom

    So he used you but you didn’t use him. That’s interesting.