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Post Break-Up Friendships: Can They Work?

Calvin Harris and Rita Ora

If you’re up on your ‘celebrity gossip’, your newsfeeds this morning will have been filled with the rather inconsequential details of Rita Ora and Calvin Harris‘s post break-up debacle. In a nutshell, he wrote a song that she’s currently got in the charts, ‘I will never let you down’ (if you’re not yet familiar with it don’t worry, you’re really not missing anything) but he has the right to approve every time she performs it.  She was due to perform it at the Teen Choice Awards but he declined (for reasons that he’s keeping schtum about) and Rita has since taken to the media to air her dirty laundry, prompting Harris to go all cryptic and passive aggressive on Twitter. Got it?

Now, admittedly, we’re not too concerned with the ‘he said, she said’ ‘oh no he didn’t’s, but this did get us thinking about break-ups. Do things at some point or another inevitably turn sour? Even if just for a little bit? But more pointedly, is it possible at all to remain friends with your ex? Do chime in with your own experience below.

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart

Having taken this query to the wonderful world of Twitter, the answer was, more often than not, a resounding ‘no’.

“In my experience, no way. Unless it wasn’t very serious, then maybe.”

“Depends. If you were friends before, then yes, but if not, it’s not really a goer. The dynamic is just too different.”

“No and if they are you can be sure one of them is still hopeful that they will reignite their love!”

Of course it’s very much so dependent on the two people in question and the nature of the break up as well as how interested both parties are in carrying on from a platonic point of view. If one person wanted it while another really didn’t, then remaining even civil becomes unlikely. If one of you winds up hurt or betrayed, then you won’t want to cross paths with them at all, never mind salvaging some sort of friendship. But what if you part ways on a level playing field?

Even if everything comes to an end in an amicable manner, it’s when you try to carry on as friends that things can really take a turn for the worse. How do you speak to one another now that you’re no longer romantically involved? And what happens when one of you inevitably winds up moving on. Unless you’ve got timing like Noah and Allie in The Notebook (you know, when they *spoiler!* died at the exact same second) and meet new people in sync, one of you will more than likely feel it like a full force kick in the teeth.

Holding on to a friendship from day one of your break-up also massively delays your healing process. In fact, if you don’t part ways in every way, and remain in contact, it’s unlikely that you’ll even accept that it’s ended at all, never mind getting over it. And if you still get on and find each other attractive, chances are you’ll wind up in a very messy ‘are we, aren’t we’ situation, in which one person will likely be mislead by your ability to get on so well, while the other painfully reminds them that you’re not actually together. Remember, you broke up for a reason.

Like everyone else on the planet, I went through a pretty tough break-up a few years ago, and even though you know it’s the right thing to do at the time and you know you’ll be ok some day, you’re just nowhere near being in the right frame of mind until you’ve gotten some distance. Of course you want to be friends and you can’t fathom the idea that this person who, at one point, you chose to have by your side as your absolute favourite, is now the one person you shouldn’t really speak to; it feels horribly wrong and unnatural but, unfortunately, it’s rather essential. Otherwise you’ll remain stuck in denial for a good two years, thinking everything is hunky dory, saying ‘look at me! I’ve managed to go through all of this unscathed! I’m brilliant’, only for it to then dawn on you that you’d never actually let go in the first place. Nightmare.

The only time, if at all, that a post break-up friendship can work, (in this writer’s humble opinion) is when you both made sure to take your space, you both moved on, you both accept that what you had was wonderful (or crap) but have come to terms with it being done and dusted. Perhaps it can work when neither of you have any lingering romantic feelings towards the other, when the physical chemistry has diminished and when you’ve both managed to move on with someone new. And by then you’ll probably be so used to living your life without them, that to go back and salvage a friendship would feel unnecessary. Why go digging up the past?

By all means remain civil and check in on each other once in a while; after all if it ended well then you’ll still care a great deal about each other, but as far as remaining the best of buds, we’d need to see more evidence of it actually working to believe that it’s truly possible. And being friends with someone who you went out with for five minutes before puberty hit you doesn’t count; we’re talking about the game-changers here.

Have you managed to remain friends with an ex? Have you tried but found it not to work? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Caroline Foran @CarolineForan

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