| by Viano Dee | 2

A Personal Experience: Can Exes Remain Friends?

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Can exes remain friends?

Relationships can be a bit complicated sometimes. You meet someone. You get attracted to them. You become friends. You want to take it a step further, you ask them out. They say yes.

You start a relationship and it’s all good at first but after sometime, things take a wrong turn and it’s no longer what it used to be. You break up. It takes time to get over them but you do anyway. Now you wonder if it’s okay for you both to still be friends.

Well, it depends.

Some people may have the nerve to work it out, while others just can’t. Sometimes, the reason for the breakup plays an important role.

If the relationship was one- sided, toxic and abusive, you’ve got to move on and block them out of your life completely. It doesn’t mean you hate them or you’re keeping malice. It just means you’re not in for negativity.

Though it is not really wise to completely block them out when there are kids involved except in really extremely abusive cases.

However, if the relationship wasn’t toxic and there are kids involved — there’s need to stay friends for the sake of the kids. Your break up should not affect the parents/children relationship.

But how about cases where relationships weren’t toxic and kids aren’t involved? To be honest, this depends on the individuals involved. I personally don’t cut off people from my life except if they are toxic otherwise, we’ll always be cool. Same applies to exes. Usually, the breakup may be as a result of disloyalty, lack of understanding and so on; my last relationship ended for issues that weren’t even our fault. Let me share.

When I first met my ex, I had just gotten out of a terribly complicated, meaningless, manipulative, exhausting one-sided long distance relationship. I was still going through the healing process and wasn’t ready for a relationship.

Business was what had linked me to him (my ex). I was doing a market survey for some items; his prices were favourable and so a business deal struck which led us to friendship.

Friends [Source: Pixabay]

After a while of talking frequently we realized we clicked mentally. We discussed many issues and for the most part, we saw things from the same perspective. It was fun. In the course of our conversation, he revealed that he was in a toxic relationship. He opened up and I too shared my experience. He knew he had to end it which he did not long after.

Since we were both out of toxic relationships, we needed to detox individually. None of us was ready for a new relationship so we just enjoyed each other’s company.

We hung out a lot. There was always something meaningful to talk about. Every moment we spent together was a breath of fresh air. No ulterior motives— just amazing friendship.

Then several months later, he wanted us to take it a step further but I wasn’t ready. Here’s the thing, I’m an intense lover.

When I decide to go into a relationship, I go all in but it takes time to get to there. The same thing applies when I’m out, I go all out and it also takes time.

I think the reason is because I allow myself to grieve completely before I move on. I don’t believe in using people as rebounds because I feel that no one should have their emotions toyed with.

My ex on the other hand just shuts down his emotions, invests his time in positive things and moves on. That is his coping mechanism. Different strokes for different folks. Anyway, back to the story. When he asked me out, I told him I wasn’t ready. He understood and gave me time but this didn’t affect our friendship.

A few weeks later, he brought it up again, I declined and we were still good. So he decided to be smart about it and asked me at intervals (like every 2 or 3 weeks). Now that I think about it, I find it funny.

Anyway, I eventually agreed but at the time I said yes, I didn’t have feelings for him. I just felt comfortable enough to say yes because we were so close, understood each other and he was my best friend so it couldn’t possibly be terrible.

He respected me, didn’t pressure me into doing anything I didn’t want to — he was the perfect gentleman so naturally, the love began to grow. We spent quality time together, he made me a priority, I made him mine too. We were ALWAYS there for each other. We could read each other. We always knew when something was wrong with one another. We reasoned and resolved issues maturely.

He wasn’t perfect, neither was I but we gave room for imperfections and didn’t nag about our flaws. We teased each other. We called each other out on our bullshit. We talked about everything. We had access to each other’s phones and passwords. We danced. We laughed. (Oh, by the way, he is a terrible dancer, lol). It was really great.

But along the line, his elder brother got married and there was pressure on him to settle down but it had to be with someone from his tribe. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. This proved to be a serious problem.

We both wanted to be in each other’s lives but that would mean he’d have a strained relationship with his dad. I didn’t want to be the reason for that. Although, we also had a few differences but we were willing to make it work. It was then we realized that we didn’t have a problem with each other (our plans and wants) but culture had a problem with us.

To give a back story, he belongs to one of those Nigerian tribes that insists on marrying from their communities or tribes and from past experiences those who did otherwise didn’t end up well. Partly because, I believe, there were no blessings from their parents. His dad had already made that clear: there’d be no support from him if he did otherwise. ( I didn’t blame the dad — I still don’t — that’s what he knew, he was only trying to look out for his son).

We played many scenes in our heads. We had many sleepless nights. We still held on until we realized we had hit a wall. We weren’t moving forward neither were we going back.

How could we proceed without being castigated? What if we decided to go ahead and things turned out for the worst? We couldn’t go back either; we had come so far– almost 3 years.

In all of this I knew that if we proceeded, I would be perceived as the enemy and I didn’t want that so I initiated the breakup. I loved him enough to let him go. I encouraged him to go and see the lady his family had picked for him. I wanted him to get to know her. I understood his desire to settle down and I wasn’t going to be selfish about it.

I loved him enough to let him go

Believe me, this was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. It tough for both of us. We talked, we had weighed our options — this was our best bet. We cried. We dried our tears. We hugged and parted ways but we knew we were still friends.

The following week he made arrangements to travel to see his people and see the lady also. I helped him pack. I encouraged him to have an open mind and I bade him farewell.

I cried every night and was forced to fake a smile in the daytime

Not long after, I asked how it went. He told me it wasn’t bad. He did as I had said. He had an open mind and they were getting to know each other. My heart sank into my stomach. I felt very miserable but at the same time I was happy for him. I cried every night afterwards and was forced to fake a smile in the daytime. I went into depression for a while but he had no idea. I deleted everything that would remind me of him. I went on self exile and I avoided seeing him.

Then I got very busy, focused on so many things at once and started getting used to being single again. My God! The process was difficult but I survived. Slowly and steadily, I moved on. Through all of this, we were still keeping in touch. I wanted to block him but I couldn’t. He didn’t do anything wrong; it wasn’t his fault.

Even though I knew he’d understand if I decided to block him, I also knew we’d both have been more miserable. To be honest, I don’t know what would have been worse. What I do know is that we survived it.

We started as friends; we’re ending as friends. Though we may never be able to utter the words “ I love you” again, we both know we once did and still do. We will treasure those precious moments we shared together.

We’ve looked back and have realized that we both helped each other grow in so many ways and we’ve come to the conclusion that our friendship is worth saving — only because it had a positive impact. Now we may not be as close as we once were, but we will always be there for us. Who knows? Maybe later in the future, our kids will take off from where we stopped.

So if you feel your friendship with an ex is worth saving, why not? Stay as friends if you can. But I want you to know that’s it’s also okay if you can’t. It doesn’t make you a mean person; it just reveals that it is difficult for you to handle and that’s totally fine.

In the end, do what you feel is best for you.

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