There are few phrases likely to get my goat more than "But I hope we can stay friends."
Obviously this is normally the sentence that concludes a big fat dumping. Once someone has decided that they don’t want to be in a relationship with me anymore, what the hell makes them think they have any right to my friendship?
I've probably been dumped by someone round about now.
Now before you accuse me of being childish and immature (FYI I’m both), stop and have a think about this.
My friends are important to me. I put a lot of time and energy into my relationship with them, and because they’re lovely, they do the same for me. So someone who’s essentially chucked me is not entitled to this time and energy that I could be devoting to people who haven't…well, chucked me. And another thing (sorry I’m on a roll now) -- if your relationship has naturally reached its course and you both feel that you’re better off as friends, based on your past love and experience, then good for you. But HOW OFTEN DOES THAT ACTUALLY HAPPEN???
For the most part, couples remain friends when they split up because one of the couple is still in love with the other, and/or harbours some ambition to shag them again in the not-so-distant future under the guise of friendship.
I know because I did it not that long ago. I hung about because I thought if I was just there, not putting any pressure on him, and being cool, he'd fall in love with me properly, and not just when he was feeling lonely. Also because I felt like it was the mature thing to do, and because I was convinced that I could salvage something out of a relationship that was never going to go anywhere (in hindsight, calling it a relationship at all was a massive stretch of anyone's imagination).
It was only when one of my best friends pointed out to me that me giving all my time and energy to such a toxic person was starting to upset my actual friends, that I got a grip on myself. I wish it had been my own self worth that had made me stop, but you can't have everything.
And him? He's sleeping with one of his other female friends now. I'm sure he tells her that she's the most important person in his life and that he doesn't know what he'd do without her. Just to make sure she doesn't go off and have a life and be happy with someone else.
These are my actual friends. Identifable as such because they never make me feel bad for the hell of it.
So, the advice you didn't ask for, that I wish I'd listened to six months ago? If you can remain friends with your ex, genuinely want them to be happy, and not harbour any lingering feelings of love or lust toward them, then great, go forth and be friendly. But don’t feel like you’re being a child, or a bitter old shrew for keeping that toxic ex at arm’s length.
Actually, thinking about it now, I've never been able to keep an ex as a friend -- am I missing out? Is there a whole untapped source of amazing friendships out there that I need to start looking into? Or is the fact that they're all, to a man, a bunch of massive douchebags just a sign that I need to start improving the quality of my exes?