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I can’t think of anything worse than staying friends with an ex

Written by gaytourism

Photo: James Besanvalle and Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

I’m walking down the street with a friend and I see him in the distance.

Then, without even thinking, my feet stop in their tracks and suddenly I’m frozen on the spot. It takes a split second for my flight or fight response to kick in and I find myself running into the closest shop, pretending to peruse the merchandise.

It then takes a second or two for my friend to notice what’s going on but by then, it’s too late.

He walks over to my friend and tells her he saw me running into the newsagents. After a fairly unremarkable catch up, he tells her to give me his best regards and walks off.

James Besanvalle sitting on a park bench

It’s not the first time I’ve been frozen in fear over seeing an ex and it certainly won’t be the last.

I’ve ran out from cinemas, clubs and even hidden on public transport to avoid dreaded conversations.

But why does it always elicit such a shocked response?

‘We didn’t work out – you need to not exist’

Miranda Hobbes from Sex and the City describes it best.

While the show is sometimes deeply problematic, Miranda hit the nail on the head in a brunch scene with Carrie, Charlotte and Samantha.

She says: ‘Believe me, I would love to be one of those people who’s all, “We loved, thank you, you enriched my life, now go, prosper.” But I’m much more “We didn’t work out, you need to not exist.”’

In fact, she literally does exactly what I described at the start of the article when she runs into her ex-boyfriend Steve.

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At the end of this clip and while the girls are sharing a waffle over brunch, Charlotte remarks: ‘Poor Steve!’

Miranda responds: ‘I panicked! What was I going to do – stand around and chit-chat about the weather? The man has been inside me, for God’s sake.’

And I actually think this has a lot to do with it (take that how you will – no pun intended).

When you’re dating someone, you’re sharing everything with them. Whether that’s your skincare regime and clothes to bodily fluids and deepest, darkest secrets.

For this reason, I find it really hard transitioning out of this intimate realm to keeping it platonic.

In fact, after a break up, I find a healthy break from all social media contact beneficial too. And if you can last a month or so without interacting via social media, why not go a year?

Then by that stage, why get back in contact at all?

I only follow one ex on one platform of social media and that’s enough for me.

Blurring the boundaries

Some exes may choose to blur the lines a little bit after they break up, continuing to be friends or even sleeping with each other. All the power to them, if that works!

But it’s a speed hump I’ve never managed to bump.

Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy wrote a great book called The Ethical Slut. In it, they lovingly refer to people open to non-traditional relationships as ‘sluts.’

One particular chapter deals with remaining friends (or more) with your ex.

They state: ‘Smart sluts know, even if they sometimes forget in the heat of conflict, that a break up need not be the end of a relationship.

‘It may be instead, a shift to a different kind of relationship. Possibly a relationship between courteous acquaintances or friends or maybe even lovers.’ they add.

But I’ve never been able to get past the awkward small talk phase with an ex.

I’m all about remembering relationships for what they were and leaving them in the moment they happened.

And hey, if I learn something from it, even better.

For me, exes are reminders that the relationship didn’t work. We gave it a go, it didn’t take off and now we need to move on.

It’s also about making a clean break and being open and ready to starting something fresh with someone new. It’s a time to focus on getting comfortable being alone again.

Maybe I’m bitter. Maybe I’m petty. Or maybe I’m a little insecure. But the idea of staying friends with an ex always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

If we’re calling it a day on our relationship, we’re calling it a day on a friendship.


James Besanvalle is the Family Editor for Gay Star News. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

See also:

Why my life is better for staying friends with my ex-boyfriends

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