My Ex-Boyfriend Isn’t My Friend Anymore

I broke up with a serious boyfriend last year. Our relationship was really complicated. Our breakup wasn’t.

When we ended it, we were both of the same opinion that it was over. With initial reluctance, I acknowledged to myself that I was getting less than I wanted or deserved from the relationship. With the honesty that was typical of his character, he agreed. He knew he wasn’t in a position to be what I needed. The breakup was an evolution, and the final decision was mutual and not acrimonious in the slightest.

There were some fundamental cracks that simply couldn’t be papered over. It happens. And it was an unfortunate ending to what had been a mostly good relationship.

When we had “the talk” that ended things, I just wanted to let out some of the feelings that had been brewing for a while. He, on the other hand, was concerned about hurting me and worried that he would lose me from his life altogether. The only thing he couldn’t bear to let go of was my friendship and my presence in his life. He didn’t want that bit to change. He wanted me to stay as big a part in his life as I had been.

He needn’t have bothered with his first concern. I wasn’t shocked or hurt. However, at the time, I wasn’t entirely sure about the second concern. It was naïve to think that things wouldn’t change.

Yet, I replied, “Don’t worry, we’ll still be friends. You’re not going to lose me.” And I meant what I said.

I didn’t want to cut him out of my life completely. And though I wasn’t eager to keep up the same level of closeness we had in our relationship, I was sure we were going to be involved in each other’s lives. At the time, this exact thing wasn’t in doubt in my mind.

On the other hand, I had no intention of investing as much time and effort into our friendship as I had into our relationship. First, I took a breather from him to let the break-up actually take. Then, it was simply a case of putting more effort into other friendships, work, family and every other aspect of my life. I made a conscious choice not to place him in the forefront of my life as one of my more important priorities. He wasn’t my job, one of my best friends, my mother, or my favourite hobby, and his friendship now ranked accordingly.

And that was as premeditated as it got. I gave myself a chance to get over him, and I reassessed his significance in my life. But there was no single-minded goal of cutting him out of my life.

But then, as time went by and I didn’t actively work on the friendship, I gradually realized that not only had he been an unsuitable life partner, he was proving himself to be an inadequate friend too. I have a tendency to abandon connections that I feel are broken. If I’m hurt, if I don’t want to be involved anymore, if the relationship of whatever kind is over, then I sometimes run away. He is exactly the same way, if not much, much worse. For this reason, neither he nor I worked particularly hard at being each other’s friend. And so, we simply drifted out of contact with each other.

Looking back, I’m not sure if I’ve actually talked to him this year. And that’s the saddest part of it all. If we had been actively avoiding each other, I’d likely know when I talked to him last. Instead, we’ve put so little effort into the friendship that I don’t even know when the last time we talked was. As so often happens with friendships, we just drifted apart.

In hindsight, I don’t think I had the heart to try that hard anymore once we were no longer together, and because of how close we were, it’s a pity that our friendship petered out. He now doesn’t know how the landscape of my life has altered, and as it turns out, I’m okay with that. I do care for him still, and I wish him nothing but the best, but it’s unfortunate because, despite saying we were going to remain friends, I’ve essentially lied.

Then again, so has he.

In the end, I simply couldn’t stay enmeshed in his life when we broke up, I knew we couldn’t be in a relationship, and we had no future together. But the nasty truth and the irony was that, though our foundation was friendship, it was the friendship that ultimately fell apart, too, just as irrevocably.

It might seem cold and harsh, but I truly believe that life is too short to surround ourselves with those who shouldn’t be our friends, let alone keeping them especially close. And if I had kept up a false intimacy with my ex, even if it was only in pseudo-friendship, then I wouldn’t have been staying honest with him. And I at least owed him that much.

What I can say is that the last year has taught me many things, one of which is that sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you have been to each other. You can’t always stay friends. That’s life. Lovers, family, best friends–they can all change.

The part of me that loved him still cares, and I honestly wish him a fantastic life. But my ex-boyfriend isn’t my friend. Not because he’s my ex, but because he is simply not my friend anymore.

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  • Ya know, I think it’s kinda fitting. In a way, your very matter-of-fact style of writing reveals how sad it is that we’re always going to drift apart from our exes, even the ones we ended on good terms with. It may not be any conscious act. It may not even make us all that upset. But, in the end, it’s just an inevitability of relationships.

    • As you know Dennis, I tend to be very matter-of-fact in any case. 😉

      But I do believe that the slow drift is likely to happen to most people who don’t break up acrimoniously.

      Ironically the lack of friendship is now kicking my arse – something my ex set-up is causing me problems and I wish I could ask for his help, but I know I can’t.

  • This really hits close to home for me – I very much enjoyed reading it!

    • Thanks, Kim, I’m really glad you enjoyed it and that it resonated!
      I have been thinking it over for a while: what we promised each other, where we are now and how we got there, this article is the distillation of all that.

    • My bf broke up with me bcz he was inlve with my sister I was vry strssd bt wen i read sme tips of reducing the lve abt my ex i fl smthn new in my lyf..thanks guiz:-)

  • I think so long as it happens naturally, no matter the outcome, it will be for the best and feel “right” or “comfortable.” I tried to force friendship with a few exes and it didn’t work out. I tried to force complete seperation, too, and that didn’t work out either.

    I will disagree with Dennis that we always drift apart from our exes, though. It might be an exception and not the rule, but I have one ex with whom I am probably closer now than at any point during our relationship. Now that we’re both married we don’t communicate as often but I think we know each other better than 98% of the other people in our lives. When we do talk it’s easy, and we can talk to each other about pretty much anything. What’s funny is that we had a TERRIBLE relationship, not once but twice, and two very nasty breakups but we make EXCELLENT friends. But…it happened naturally.

    I’m also a big fan of the “clean break.” I’d never done it, actually, until my last break-up but I knew I had to b/c he didn’t want to end the relationship and I was afraid I’d waffle. But whether you remain friends or drift apart, I don’t think you can know for sure that it’s the “right” thing unless you do take that time to completely seperate and get reborn into your new individual self, so to speak.

    • I really think you do have to find what’s natural or right for you in regards to staying friends or cutting contact with an ex. I think part of that has to do with who you are as a person in any case. I will always care for my ex and wish him the best and he is undoubtedly a very important part of my past, but as has been hinted at before I’m pragmatic, and I simply don’t want to muddy the waters with remaining his friend. It’s just not who I am in general.

      I do agree with you, in those rare cases (like you and your ex) people can be perfectly good, if not great, friends. I know of those who are close to their ex-spouses even. It’s just not typical.

  • my ex girlfriend just broke up with me yesterday, i knew it was coming about 3-4 weeks out. she claimed it was because she didnt have time to be my girlfriend, she does, i did and had a busier schedule than her. i am not upset that we are not together, i am upset at how she broke up with me. she did it over text message, and let her freind who then deleted me off her facebook page. i told her right after the break up that is was bad timing, and i told her that i do not want to be friends. i have been the main one texting her and for the most part the freinds i have. i have great friendships but very few. i do not let alot of people in my circle. we were still building up so she had more work to do to be let in my circle but i preferred her to be my partner in crime not my best friend. she has freinds for that i have friends for that. she texted me back apologizing that her freind deleted me off her freinds list for her and she was sorry. this is after i told her i didnt want to be freinds. i have always been an optimistic person and she knows that. she can see the scars i have on my shoulders from past let downs but i never held them over her head. we always did our thing. never fought or rushed each other and had complete honesty. i bought the horrible beautiful creatures book so we could go see the movie on valentines day but things got in the way of that happening. with me going to go see her. we had realistic plans that all was required was her to work with us. and she did, but she is kind of lazy but i still never rushed her or threw it in her face. i fee like she never invested in me and i never invested fully in her because she never did for me. i guess she wasnt the right fit, and thats all she wrote. now she wants to be freinds and as i stated earlier i am a bit jaded to do this because she never fully let me in as her boyfriend what makes a friend any different. thats how i feel plus i never wanted to be her freind i wanted to be the guy she loved who she conquered the world with and i have enough friends so i decide just now to not reply back to her but if i am in cali i will see if she is up for an adventure. but i wouldnt make a special trip to cali just for her. i do that for serious relationships only.

  • Hi, my name is Amanda and this is my story. I hope you guys can give me a decent honest advice/opinion for me. Sigh.

    So, me and my ex were broken up for 4 weeks now.
    We were dating for almost 11 months until the break-up happened, though we have been such good pen-pal friends for 6 years(my ex is a foreigner living in Australia and myself here in the U.S.).
    So, me and my ex were in a long distance relationship but we constantly visited each other’s country to spend time together(he came to the U.S. to see me for 2 weeks and we even traveled India together after that) and made plans for more further visits and travel plans too.( he was going to eventually move to where I live by the end of next year.) To be honest, distance did not affect our relationship at all, it only made us stronger because we always showed our affection very well, contacting each other every minute of our time.

    But the real problem that we had were many arguments.
    We would fight for nothing serious frequently and I always ended up asking him to break up with me, which I should have not done that so easily with so many times like that.

    During my summer vacation, which was from May to August this year, I visited him in Australia and we lived together for 3 months. We had good times together, but had a lot of arguments too and i always ended up asking him to break up with me and that I will go to another Australian friend’s house to stay there, which i did not mean it but I just became too emotional losing myself. He ALWAYS begged me to come back saying he will fix his problem so that the argument will not happen again and that was how we made up each time and became happy again.
    So, I never even thought that he will ever leave me until our REAL breakup when he finally admitted that we are just torturing ourselves and maybe better to be separated even though we both love each other so so much.
    He said I will be fine as time goes and he also said he does not want to lose a friendship with me no matter what even though we broke up and that he told me to talk to each other ‘as a friend’ again in a year from now on when we are done recovering from our wounds. But before then, he asked me not to contact to each other.

    Later I found that he changed his facebook relationship status and profile photoes with this new girlfriend he found in his country, saying they are dating since THE EXACT DAY WE BROKE UP. Yes, the exact day!
    It was a very shocking news to me, so 2 days after our break up, I finally decided and sent his friends and his family some very long and sincere facebook messages about how I was just so emotional that I asked him to break up while we were arguing, and that I am regretting. However, his family and friends just responded me that I always put him in a hell everytime I told him to break up, and this time I should just let him go so that he can be happy with this new girl he found. So, I just deactivated my facebook and did not go back since then….I kind of tried to keep a NO-CONTACT RULE and surprisingly I became patient enough to not contact him since then or went back to my facebook account(been 4 weeks now). Also, at the same time, I did not hear ANYTHING back from him during this 4 week of no contact period.

    So, yes he deleted me from his facebook and never talked to me during this 4 week of no contact period after our breakup( and he seems to be still dating his new girlfriend still. I am not sure about this though because I did not check his facebook just in case I may get hurt. I did not want to know what was going on his life at all for now.) HOWEVER, I found that he did not delete me off from his skype. and he actually showed up online on skype several times, even though he has no friends to talk on skype…… and everytime I get online, that’s when he gets quickly offline to see me getting onlined. I also found that he changed his skype status about something obvious that he wants to show off to me and brag about himself so that he could make me angry( but he did not put any skype profile photoes, I mean, I expected that he would put a new romantic photo with his new girlfriend just like he did when we were dating, but no profile pictures at all.. and just a skype status about how much of an academic success he had made and bragging it off).

    So, I am really confused what I have to do from now on after 4-week of NC period. Should I keep on this ‘no contact rule’ still? Is there any way or chance he will call me still even though he found a new seemingly kind-hearted nice girlfriend and that it seems like they are still dating(since our breakup to up now)?

    I do admit my mistakes while we were dating, but I was his ‘first love’ even though I dissapointed him several times by taking him for granted(mentioning about break-ups a lot) and flirting with other girls at the beginning of our date……It is true we both did love each other a lot.

    I really wish I could get a true honest advice you could best give to me as a 3rd party. Also, sorry about this long-comment.
    I hope I could hear from you guys back. Thank you for reading, this means a lot to me. Thank you!


  • Carol Andersen,

    Carol Andersen,

    This was even faster than I could dream of. Thank you for taking time to listen to me and answering all my emails. I feel emotional strong again. My confidence is back and I see my future clearly. I am forever grateful for your help in re-uniting me with my old lover.if there is any one out there ineed of help pls contact {}

    Carol Andersen, Seattle, USA

  • Last week experience was the happiest moment of my life,i and my wife were separated for close to 3 years and ever since she left me i have always find things difficult for my self,taking care of the kids and especially my business which was going down gradually because of lack of concentration.I have always thought of getting her back but she refused because really i caused her disappearance i cheated on her often and when she could not take it she took for a divorce and after which i brought one of my girlfriend in looking forward to get married to her but not less than few weeks i noticed her ugly character and definitely such can not make a good wife i had to stay unmarried because i realized that after my wife left i could not find any woman as committed and humble as she wife was.
    To cut my story short i have gone wide in search for a powerful spell caster and i was informed by some of my friends that i should contact Priest Ajigar that he is very powerful and he can solve my problem i took his email from my him,i search his email and name on Google that same day to my surprise i saw so many persons testimonies saying that Priest Ajigar helped them to bring back their ex and also restored their broken marriages i contacted Priest Ajigar and he told me all i need to know and he ask me to give him 4 days that my wife is going to call me on phone i thought it was a joke and to my greatest surprise she really did call me, we kept on talking for like two weeks after which she came back home and said she is giving me the last chance that if she should stay with me as his wife again i should promise not to cheat on her again.I am so happy today to let the whole world know that Priest Ajigar is spell works and to all who are in search of help should contact his

  • Sounds like you were just selfish and quit to make any real changes to your relationship. Your selfishness was the cornerstone here because not only were you unwilling to let him go you ultimately lied to him to make yourself feel better what you did. And if you did really miss his compainship why wouldn’t you reach out to him ? Real friendship never ends no matter how much time grows between people.

  • Does the end of the relationship also mean the “death” of the friendship. I think there are people that do say they want to stay friends after a break up and really mean it. I think it’s hard when it’s external factors (distance, work, religion, etc) affects the relationship and the people in it.
    I always felt I would hate to lose a friend due to such circumstances.

    I also do know one has to step away until the feelings have died down and to give the other the time and respect to move on too. Knowing each other for 10 years prior to the relationship, then breaking up and losing that friendship even on breaking up on good terms is so hard.

    I know that just like building a relationship, keeping a friendship after a relationship ends is also hard work. I guess after reflection of time apart to heal on or the other could then realize they rather just take the clean break. I think this is the usual outcome, but it is sad when the friendship has to end too.

    I had a time where we had to break up as there were external situation we couldn’t control and had to break up. But also too in the process I lost a great friend. I’ve always felt it unfair that we had lost our friendship too for factors we couldn’t control.

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