Is it possible to be friends with your ex?

The same five words are uttered every time a couple break up. But just how true is the phrase “we can still be friends’? Is it just something we say to make the other – the dumpee, more often than not – feel better about themselves?

Think back on the break ups you’ve gone through. When you saw the person in question the first time after calling it quits, did you run up to them arms outstretched? Hell no. You, if you’re like the rest of us, hid behind a tree, behind a friend or in the bathroom, then went home and cried into a tub of ice cream while watching Bridget Jones.

It seems an alien concept when the break up is still fresh in your memory, but with time it can be possible to call your former love a friend again. This, of course, depends on the nature of the break up and the level of maturity between the two people. When polled, 32% of students labelled cheating as a valid reason for breaking up. But is it also a reason not to stay friends with that person?

Staying friends with someone who you feel has stomped on your heart can be difficult at first, but after a while it may get easier to see them. “It all depends on how the relationship ended,” as student Roisin Hally points out. There are some reasons why it’s not a good idea to stay friends with someone you’ve  been in a relationship with, but a major one is if someone still wants more.

“You can’t stay friends if one of you still wants a relationship,” said student Tina Brophy. While Nathan Wheeler states that if you were friends before any romantic feelings got in the way, it might be easy to revert back to that.

But what about those who didn’t end their relationship as a result of any bad blood, but finished it just because it wasn’t an ideal situation for their relationship?

Sophia Braun, a student from Germany, had to allow her relationship to take a different path before she moved to Dublin to start college. “My ex and I try to be friends, but it’s not easy as we didn’t break up because we didn’t love each other anymore, but because our relationship just didn’t have a perspective. We couldn’t see an end of the long-distance thing for the next 5 years and it sucked.”

Aoife Bennett

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