How to Go Back to Being Just Friends
At the beginning of the second semester of my freshman year, I started dating my friend Malcolm. We texted, we held hands, we went on a date, and before I knew it, we had broken up. It was an amicable breakup. We both weren’t in the right place for dating and it was simply over. The catch? It wasn’t actually over. We were best friends, and we already had plans for breakfast that Saturday with three other friends. How did we do it? Well.
Give each other some space.
Bouncing right back to the way things were or to the way you want them to be is unrealistic. (I learned the hard way.) Breakups are still breakups and you each need some time apart. I tried to pretend everything was normal only hours after my breakup. However, if I could go back and change it, I would. Everything is not normal! You broke up! You are each other's ex now!
Remember why you liked them in the first place.
I cannot tell you how many times I forget this. There were days when being friends with Malcolm seemed impossible, days that I resented myself for dating him, even days that I regretted having him as both my friend and ex. I had to remind myself: “You broke up and that is OK but Malcolm is still Malcolm and he is no less funny and no less kind than he was before.” The things that make you like someone romantically are still applicable when you like them just as a friend.
Hang out in groups.
For the first couple of months, it’s probably best to spend time together with others around you. Being alone, together, tends to lead to awkward situations. For Malcolm and me, this was easy because we shared a lot of the same friends. If your situation is not as ideal, force some of your other friends to hang out with you. The more, the merrier.
Know what not to talk about.
As with any friendship, you know what to talk about and what to not talk about. This is especially true in a friendship between exes. Good topics to avoid include: why you broke up, bad memories from when you were dating, and current partners. That being said, it’s different for everyone. Play it by ear and over time you’ll find you’ve established an unspoken set of rules.
Just be friends, for goodness sake!
This seems very obvious but sometimes people (OK, me) forget. I kept remembering he was—no, is!—my friend. Ask how his day was, text him about this new movie you found, congratulate him on an aced test. Dating doesn’t change the fact that you should be supportive and kind. Friends are friends are friends are friends.
By Avery Bowen, 16