Can exes be friends?
An age-old quandary, opinions are fairly divided on this one. We share some of our most profound moments with our exes and for a certain period of time, they mean the world to us. Unless things go supremely wrong, such as instances of infidelity or toxicity, it is reasonable to want to hold on to the comfort and familiarity of the relationship. However, this friendship comes with a messy baggage of rules, boundaries, and a healthy dose of confusion.
According to Katie O'Malley, the Deputy General Editor at Elle UK, an amicable break up is, by and large, a fallacy — a well-kept secret to keep social media followers happy. It is Instagram-able but not necessarily honest. She argues that break ups are almost always a result of something that went wrong — infidelity, long-distance, dangerous behaviours, or even falling out of love. Hoping to part as friends is a tall order where parting without bloodshed is barely happening. In fact, studies have shown that only about 14 per cent of all exes are able to transition into friendships easily, largely owing to post-break-up awkwardness. Final verdict from her: break ups are chaotic, and curating them for the 'gram does nothing but set unrealistic standards for others.
How a couple chooses to part ways has been known to determine whether a platonic reunion is on the cards, sometime in the near or distant future. For instance, if the couple has been loyal in the partnership and the break up was handled with a fair amount of maturity and levelheadedness, it is likely to have a less stormy refractory period and vice versa.
Regardless, friendships budding from the end of a romantic relationship are all the more fragile and riskier. Therefore, ground rules. Before plunging into a friendship, it is important to take a break. A break up can take a heavy emotional toll and it is important to process those emotions before beginning a new relationship with the same person. Shama, a 23-year-old university student says it took at least six months of zero contact with her ex, including a social media blackout, for her to come back to talking terms with him. "We are still working on getting the comfort level down to what it was pre-relationship. It's harder than it seems."
Once you are ready to hit the reset button, bury the hatchet with your ex and make sure there are no ulterior motives hidden behind your friendship. "You need to fall out of love completely, to be able to be friends with them. I realised just a lunch down the 'friendship' path, that I was nowhere near losing my feelings for her. I took the moral high ground, and we parted cleanly. Years later, I still think about her and wish she were a part of my life. But it is for the best and I'm happy that we did, what we did," says Apurvo, a banker, husband and father.
Varying testimonies of these couples prove that the jury is still out on whether to be or not to be friends with those you have shared a romantic partnership with. It has happened successfully before, which is heartening to know, and portraying a united front, especially where children involved, is definitely a more mature way forward. However, most relationship fallouts involve acrimonious mourning periods, even without the added pressure to remain friends with exes. At the same time, couples who have shared true love never want to be strangers to each other. To each their own, we suppose!