Dear Chris Cross,
This dilemma has no easy answer. Can you be friends with your ex? Yes. But those Jello Shots are going to quickly transform into the “friends with benefits” zone. I hate to say it, but the reason this happens is because it is far too easy to slide into old habits.
Let us explore this metamorphosis.
Phase one: The Break Up
The She-Demon is out of your life. She has been exorcised back to the gates of hell and you are cleansed of the relationship that should never have been. You think about the good times, but the bad times became all to real to continue on. Secretly you miss her. Of course you do! You just spent X amount of time caring for this individual and spending time with her and now that part of your life is empty. Moving on, you spend time with friends and try to forget what might have been. You may even un-friend her on Facebook, or even erase her number from your phone.
Phase two: The Reconnection
As time passes, so does the heart grow fonder. You may now experience a time of forgetfulness. Forgetting the bad and thinking about the good. That was a lovely day you had going to the museum, or seeing a movie that touched you both, or spending the whole day in bed. Sigh, you miss that connection. And, lo, just as you are thinking about this, your ex has made an effort to contact you. You are flabbergasted. Should you? Shouldn’t you? You realize you miss that connection so much, that giving a friendship a shot doesn’t sound so bad. There is a phone call or a text conversation where you both share a few laughs, and agree to meet up for a drink to catch up.
Phase three: The Friendship
You have met for that “catch up” time and, though it was a bit awkward at first, you have decided to hang out more and give this friendship thing a shot. You do small things at first; coffee, movie, concert in the park; but then these small things evolve into spending more time together. You are rediscovering that connection you had in the first place. You decide that no matter what, you must keep things casual. Friendship is friendship and nothing more. You do this for a while feeling like things can keep going at a steady pace.
Phase four: The Jealousy
Then the day comes that you have grown comfortable in your friendship. So comfortable, in fact, that naturally you can start talking about other people you are interested in romantically. You both do……but wait a minute…….. what was that? That pang? Did you feel it? Yes, my friend, there it is. The pang of jealousy. Somewhere in your stomach the bottom drops out, and you experience a sickly feeling. You can imagine your ex with this new love interest, and suddenly it feels like you care too much. You decide it is a passing feeling and that you can just continue on. This feeling will go away. Right?
Phase five: The Jello Shots
So, now you have been invited to a mutual friend’s party. Maybe your crush will be there, or your ex’s crush. More than likely one or the other will be present. You see them together, and there’s that pang again! The crush has to leave early. Everyone is doing jello shots and having a blast. You look at your ex, they look at you, and suddenly it’s on. The heat is too much. The jealousy has over taken both of you. Time to get freaky.
Phase six: The Friends With Benefits
Enter the “Friends with Benefits” zone. Here there exists a mutual agreement that things wont go back into relationship mode. It didn’t work out the first time, so why go back? One of you secretly wants to re-enter a platonic relationship, but instead lies and vocalizes the fact that it would be a bad idea. You see, here is where the emotions come back. You are feeling feelings, or at least one of you is. The thing is, in this zone, almost all of the time, it is impossible to be on the same page. Every relationship evolves no matter what kind of relationship it may be, its just a matter of what it evolves into. One of you is growing closer to the aforementioned crush, and all of a sudden some feelings are going to get hurt.
Phase seven: The Final Straw
All of a sudden, you are having arguments that sound all too familiar. There is a lot of crying, shouting, hurt, anger, and deja vu. Yes, it’s true, this “friends with benefits” thing is not working out. You are out of that zone. Can you go back to just being friends? No. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. You have to cut off and get out. It is an emotional roller coaster, and has turned into an unexpected clusterfuck.
Just to clarify, I am not saying this is EVERY relationship, but I would bet that nine times out of 10 this is roughly what occurs. You CAN be friends with your ex, but I think it takes a special person and a special situation. I also think that it is better if more time passes between the break up and the attempted friendship. Take a break from your ex and see if things work out friendship-wise, once you have had time to settle into other relationships. There is a happy medium, but it takes some work to make it work.