Teen Talk

Can you stay friends with your ex? She’s trying, but it’s complicated

DEAR KELLY: You know how people think you can’t stay friends with your ex, well me and my ex did. We didn’t talk for like three months, then his uncle, whom I knew really well, died suddenly. I reached out to him to say was sorry and we started talking again. He got a new girlfriend about two months ago and she made him block me on everything, so we couldn’t talk. I’m so frustrated and mad, not just that she asked but that he did it. A bunch of my friends hung out the other night and he showed up without her. I asked him what was up, and he said that she made him pick either going out with her or talking to me. He was really sorry and said that when they break up he’ll unblock me then and made it seem like I just needed to hold tight. But now I’m mad and I don’t know what to do. I asked if he liked her, and he said yes but not like for forever. He said he knew he wouldn’t end up with her but that for now things are OK. I asked how I could talk to him if something happened and I needed his advice. He said to have my friends snap him and he would text me back when she wasn’t around, but that she checks his phone all the time. I miss him so much and it’s like I lost my best friend because we used to talk about everything. He was like a brother to me and now I don’t have him. Should I talk with him again when they break up, whenever that is? Or do I block him back like my friends say I should? Or should I Snapchat her and tell her that she’s being ridiculous and were just friends and that she needs to grow up and deal with our friendship?

PL

DEAR PL: Sometimes relationships start out romantic and turn into ordinary good friendships. It does happen. When it does, it can be a special thing. Even though it didn’t go where you wanted it to go romantically, it might have gone somewhere better. Finding a good guy friend is valuable. It’s a bummer he has allowed her to create this wedge between you.

The truth of it is he has participated just as much as she has, so you can’t just blame her. He has allowed it. If he thinks it’s OK to let his girlfriend of two months look through all his text messages, then dictate who he can and can’t be friends with, he’s inviting drama and jealousy into his life. She sounds insecure and controlling. He seems OK with it, so that makes him an equal part of the problem.

Sending her a rude Snapchat wouldn’t be smart. It would only add fuel to the fire. You can always snap her and ask if you can talk because you want her to know that you are just friends and you don’t feel anything for him romantically, but you do value him as a friend. Approach it more from the stance of “you have nothing to feel threatened by and I’m not trying to take your boyfriend.” If she still shuts the door on you being able to connect with him, there isn’t much else you can do until he speaks up.

Blocking him back feels like a game. You block me, I’ll block you. It isn’t the smartest approach to continue a friendship that matters to you. You are better off talking with him and telling him that it hurts your feelings that he picked her over your friendship and that you miss him as a friend. Blocking him doesn’t send an honest message, it sends a reactive message and its purpose is to hurt him, not enlighten him as to how you feel and how you miss his friendship.

Your best approach after trying to talk with her nicely and explaining the platonic relationship you have is to be patient. The more he sees her alienating him from people he cares about or questioning people who text him, the more hopefully sees how unhealthy this relationship is. And when this happens, my guess is he will want to talk with you about how to end things with her. Knowing that he is already planning to break up with her means it probably won’t be too long, but you don’t need to sit around and wait for it to happen. Go out and fill your time with other friends. He was a good friend but he wasn’t your only friend.

Changes in friendships are a part of growing up and getting older. You may meet someone soon and you might be the one adjusting the friendship to keep peace with your new relationship. Accept that things are different now and see it as an opportunity to expand and grow your other friendships. People change, friendships drift and sometimes you have to move on. It’s not easy but it’s normal and healthy.

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