Can We Still Be Friends?
Welcome to our column written by Managing Editor Caitlyn Araña, called Catching Up With Caitlyn. Through letters, she addresses the trials and tribulations that come with learning and growing as a 20-something. Tune in for your weekly dose of drama. Love, work, relationships, health… Nothing is off limits here.
I was in a toxic relationship. It was with someone that I trusted… that I grew up with… that knew me better than I knew myself. At least it seemed that way. When we broke up, it took me all of a year to get over him, and it wasn’t easy. It’s not easy to cut off all communication with someone that you spoke to every minute of every day, and it’s not easy going to places that you two once used to go.
You go through the steps of a breakup. There's sadness, anger, blame, more sadness, more anger, more blame, and then slowly, you get back to seeing color again. Then there’s this real sense of pride that you get: the big, “Damn, I really did that,” energy. After going through all that, I started to wonder how it got so toxic. Was it bad that I still wanted him in my life? Was it just the toxicity talking?
I wondered for a year before he texted me this past summer to ask me a question. I answered his question, but then we got to talking. He apologized for a lot, rightfully so, and I told him that I was tired of placing blame and just wanted to start fresh. As we continued talking, we spoke with honesty and integrity. There was no deep lingering feeling of a hidden agenda like there used to be. There was no dark cloud hanging over me.
So, what do you do when the person you thought was for you ends up not being the one? Slowly, I began to realize that I wanted him in my life, and if it wasn’t going to be as a boyfriend, then it’d be as a friend. After all, he knew me. He knew things about me that not many did, and not for nothing, he was there for me at a time in my life when I really needed him.
I know, I know… There’s this big belief that you absolutely cannot be friends with your ex, but I’m here to tell you, it’s kind of a lie. Because here I am, friends with him. How did I do it? Well, it’s not easy. There are rules you have to follow, and I’m going to let you in on them.
Be Emotionally Ready
It won’t work if there are any lingering romantic feelings for each other. That just leads to pent up emotions that are never expressed… and that is just exhausting and torturous. Do NOT put yourself through that!
Past Issues Are Off Limits
Going hand-in-hand with the first rule, you cannot bring up past issues. They’re not past issues if you keep bringing them up. Obviously if you’re trying to talk out an issue before going into the friendship territory, that’s a different story. Otherwise, past issues are off limits.
Talking About Potential Relationships Are Off Limits
This is an optional rule. The catch-22 about being friends with your ex is that not all things that you talk about with friends can be discussed with them. It’s not so much of a jealousy thing as it is a pride thing. I may be over you, but I sure as hell don’t want to hear about the girl you had sex with last week. Maybe that’s just me.
The Topic of Sex Is Off Limits
Do not even go there! You might want to talk about moments you two spent together, but trust me, it gets very weird very quickly. That’s enough about that.
This rule is so important. While being ready to be friends is one thing, you have to be honest with yourself and with your ex. If you genuinely want to be friends, go ahead and do that. I wish you all the luck. But if you have an ulterior motive to being friends, please just walk away while you can. It’s not fair to you. It’s not fair to them.
Of course, this is all a work in progress. I am still learning, and as I learn, I’ll keep you updated. If you’ve been through or are going through a similar situation, feel free to reach out. Comments are there for a reason, and I’m sure we’d all love to hear some more tips!