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     Volume 4 Issue 8 | August 13, 2004 |

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Can We Still Be Friends?

Michele Hickford

So, Mike B. shared a disturbing story with me. Disturbing, because I've heard it so many times before, and familiar, because I probably lived a version of it myself once or twice.

So here's our buddy, Mike, in a pretty serious relationship for the past three years and all of a sudden his girl wants to break up with him. But here's the kicker: she still wants to be FRIENDS.

What the heck is THAT supposed to mean? I can completely understand poor Mike's anguish. I mean, perhaps over time one's feelings can morph from one thing into another, but you simply can't turn them on and off like a light switch. Today, passionate love. Tomorrow, "click!" just your buddy. "So, tell me ALL about that new guy you're dating." Yeah, right.

What are we thinking, when we say something like that? I think women do it, because we think it will lessen the pain. I'm going to slide out of your life slowly rather than yank myself out in one go. Or, there are lots of things I like about you, but not quite enough to actually want to be your girlfriend/boyfriend. Can I just have the parts I like?

There are very rare situations, where two people decide together that perhaps a platonic arrangement is better than a romantic one. And, there are definitely situations, where the romantic relationship turns into a platonic one over time (although generally it's not a conscious decision).

But to think the other person can simply switch overnight is not only impossible but selfish. Because, I'm pretty darn sure Mike B.'s girlfriend has been thinking about being "just friends" for some time. She only sprung it on him now. The signs have probably been there, and perhaps Mike missed them.

It may be their relationship already started drifting in the platonic direction, but he hadn't noticed. For although we often expect the other person to change overnight in order to catch up, we've had the "luxury" of weeks, months or even years of slow percolation to get where we are.

However, there is one thing I want to make clear. I'm not saying that Mike B. is totally blameless in the break-up. He might be, or he might not be. I don't know anything about the circumstances, or why his girlfriend's feelings changed.

All I'm saying is it's pretty unreasonable for her to expect him to be able to (let alone WANT to) be "just friends". She's breaking up with him, pure and simple. If she doesn't want to be with him, she doesn't want to be with him. And, that's the end of it.

Sorry Mike, but that's the way I see it. Sadly, it's time to move on. When the pain is gone and the wounds have healed, it may be possible to resume a casual friendship with her. But, that's not something you are required to try for. It happens on its own accord. And, it's rare. For now, it's time for introspection and time on your own to reflect on how things got to this point, and then you'll be ready to move on. Sigh.


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