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.