Help! My Friends and My Ex Are Still Friends…
When you date someone for a while, your worlds start to combine. And while that’s awesome when you’re together, it makes for a tough and confusing break up. Should your friends dump your ex too? Or are they entitled to keep the friendship going? Here’s how to navigate various situations:
If they knew each other first. If you met your ex through a friend, then you had to be prepared for this possibility. This is the reason why some people don’t like hooking their friends up with each other. But as tough as it may be to think about your friend and your ex still hanging out, this can actually be a good thing for you. Since you share a friend (or even group of friends) your ex is going to be more motivated to keep things cordial post-break up and speak positively about you. Also, this can make it easier to become friends again if that’s something you want to do. Often the worst part of a break up can be losing a person completely from your life (on top of losing a romantic partner). If you’re connected to your ex through a friend, it can help you and your ex stay in each other’s lives in a new and positive way.
If they became close through me. If your friends and your ex got to know each other through you, then their “right” to remain friends isn’t so black and white. In this case, the best way to handle it is to have an open conversation with your friend. I wouldn’t straight up tell them they can’t be friends with your ex, because that could make them resent you. Instead, honestly tell your friend what aspects of their friendship makes you uncomfortable. Work out together what your policy is going to be about hanging out with one or both of you. Should they not invite your ex to group hang outs when you’re involved? Does this mean they won’t invite you to a group hang out when your ex is involved? Would it be better to just warn you both when you’re going to be in the same place and then let you decide for yourselves? The more open you are with your friend about your feelings, the less likely this sitch will cause ripples in your friendship.
If their friendship revolves around you. As messed up as it seems, sometimes your friends will get close to your ex as you’re going through the break up! Maybe your ex reached out to your friend for advice or help about you, or even as a way to try to stay connected with you and know what’s going on in your life. If you’re in this situation, give your friend clear guidelines about what info you’re okay with them sharing and what you’re not. It’s also completely fine for you to say that you don’t want them talking about you when they do talk—it’s fine if they want to be friendly, but you need to be left out of it. Your ex can go to other friends for advice and help on getting through the break up. Chances are, as the break up gets further away, and your ex is less attached to you, he or she will also be less attached to seeking out your friends.
If it was a NASTY break up. If your ex did something really horrible to you as you were breaking up or during the relationship, it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want them to be hanging out with your friends. All break ups can get messy, and people can say and do hurtful things, but if your ex did something that really crossed the line, it may feel like a betrayal if your friends still hang out with them. Tell your friends this, and tell them how hurtful it feels for them to stay friendly with someone who was so horrible to you. Hopefully they’ll take this to heart and realize with your ex isn’t worth the pain it causes you. And if you’re truly feeling betrayed by a friend, you’ve spoken with them about it openly, and things still aren’t changing…then perhaps that’s a friendship that needs some distance.
Originally published on stayteen.org on December 18, 2015.