The aftermath of a break up can seem almost as frustrating, if not more so, than the break up itself. Have you ever dated someone and then realized you liked his or her family more than you liked your boyfriend or girlfriend? Is it not awkward to stay in touch with the family after the relationship has ended?
And then, there are friends. Most couples have friends in common. What do you do with mutual friends after a break up?
“I already lost my sweetheart. Do I have to lose my friends too?”
Should I Try to Keep Connections with Our Mutual Friends?
Before trying to reconnect with mutual friends after a break up, ask yourself a few questions about each person:
- Was this person my friend or my ex’s friend first?
- At the time we broke up, was this person closer to me or closer to my ex?
- Would spending time with this person be painful and continuously remind me of my ex?
- Can I trust this person with my heart? Will he or she be loyal to me – or will they take my vulnerability and use it against me?
- Is this a friend with whom I deeply connected prior to dating my ex?
- Is this a person who I believe will tell me the truth and not only tell me what I want to hear?
- Would attempting to spend time with this person place him or her in an awkward situation?
When I broke up with guys, or when they broke up with me, there were always a handful of friends I knew would stay by my side no matter what. They were typically the friends that said, “Heather, why are you with this guy?” in the first place. I could not doubt their loyalty because they listened to, and put up with, a lot of unnecessary drama over the years; and, they are still my friends to this day. Loyalty in friendship is a rare blessing. If you have friends such as these, cherish them and pour into their lives. If you don’t, ask God to provide you with some deep friendships. Once you have them, don’t take them for granted!
Then, there were those “friends” I was not sure how to approach. Are they angry with me? Do they even care that my ex and I are no longer together? If I try to spend time with them, will they hurt my feelings?
Lastly, there were the friends that were obviously devoted to the ex.
Having been in the “just broke up with someone” season of life more times than I wish to admit (so thankful for God’s grace), I would recommend approaching mutual friends in the following ways:
- Keep the friends you know are devoted to you close to you. Be happy to spend time with them and don’t waste valuable energy trying to win more friends to your side. At the end of the day, if your ex ends up with more of your formerly shared friendships than you do, does it really matter? People are going to do what they want to do. It is better to treasure the friends you have than to try to punish your ex, or save face, by campaigning to win the loyalties of his or her friends.
- Once the dust settles, approach those friends that seem to be equally devoted to both of you and let them know that you are not expecting them to choose or to stop spending time with your ex. If you want to remain friends with these people, and they feel the same way, then proceed with caution. If you find that they are not trustworthy, it is okay to put distance between you. Or if it turns out to be too awkward for everyone, it is okay to let those relationships fizzle.
- When you run into your ex’s close friends, be kind. If they are not kind to you, keep a cool head and refuse to jump into an argument with them. Show them that you are a respectable, level-headed person who refuses to play games. If they hurl insults at you, just walk away with your dignity intact. They would love nothing more than to see you lose it so they can report back to your ex about your actions. It is so not worth it. Hold your head high, be kind, and walk away. If you don’t trust your resolve, lean on your friends and pray when you find yourself in those uncomfortable situations.
Just Because I Am not with My Ex Anymore Does Not Mean I Want to Break up With My Friends!
If you lose all of your friends after a break up, they were never really your friends. Break ups can be humiliating and they can tempt us to hide from that world. After you spend some time grieving, reach out to your friends. They may just be waiting for you to be ready to “come out and play.” Once you do, if it becomes clear that they are spending a lot of time with your ex, and less time with you, it is better for you to go in your own direction. You need not make a scene about it. Just respect their decision to support your ex, and as you feel up to it, venture out and make new friends. If there are friends with whom you lost touch while you were busy with your ex and his or her friends, work on rekindling those friendships. You may be surprised at how willing they are to pick up where you left off!
Can I Trust Them?
Trust is essential in any thriving relationship. My closest friends are the ones I believe have my best interest at heart (and vice versa). If I heard someone ridiculing them, it would cut me deeply. Once, my best friend and I were at an event when an old man came over and complimented her. While that would have been great, he turned around and insulted me. Had she been a self-centered friend, she would have floated away glowing in the light of his sweet comment while letting me suffer; but, instead she walked out to the car with me and, with true righteous indignation in her voice, proceeded to tell me how much she did not appreciate him insulting me. Sure, his comment was hurtful, but what I remember most is how my friend responded to me in that moment. It was worth the temporary pain to know that she loved me and had my back.
These are the kind of friends to look for and this is the kind of friend we should all aspire to be.
At this point in your life, losing your “friends” may seem like the end of the world; but, I am here to tell you, life goes on! Your real friends never quite leave your life, even if you don’t see or talk to them often. Temporary friends come and go – and that is okay.
What advice would you have for a friend who wants to maintain friendships with his or her ex’s friends?