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GQ

How to Be Friends with Your Ex

elaine-and-jerry

(Originally published on GQ.com)

So your relationship ended—bummer!

 

But, after months of getting creepily into SoulCycle and consuming a staggering amount of pornography that would get you kicked out of most of the European Union, you’re ready for the next step: a relationship with your ex.

 

For many people, this seems like the natural progression: you break up, take some time to leech pain out of your body, and then, you wake up one morning and think, “Hey, I wonder if Jen wants to get bagels?” I’m going to stop you right there, friend; even if she does want to hit up H&H (and she might! All round carbs transcend pain) you should probably never ask her to hang again. In the long line of stupid things humans have done—and we’re counting both the creation of Google Glass and rebooting Point Break—few end so predictably in heartbreak and regret as trying to be friends with an ex.

 

I know that this message probably runs contrary to everything you’ve been led to believe about the men and women you’ve liked, loved, gotten damp with, and ditched in the past. We’re told time and time again that time heals all wounds, and that soon enough, all those fights and sexless birthdays that crescendoed into your relationship’s inevitable death knell will be forgotten, and it won’t be weird to spend afternoons together perusing farmer’s markets and testing couches at West Elm. The thing that we so easily forget is that unless you’re some kind of nightmare person intent on breaking hearts and ruining lives, you probably had a damn good reason to end things. It’s time to take the L.

Now it’s totally understandable to want to seek comfort in a person who you don’t have to start at square one with. This person already knows the names of your friends and siblings, and if you do end up having sex again, you already know that their crotch isn’t full of teeth or anything. When you first enter the lukewarm waters of being friends with your ex, it might even seem kind of, well,perfect: all that intimacy and exactly zero expectation that you’ll pick up the whole check at brunch. But seriously, it’s a terrible idea.

 

Even if your ex agrees to hang out with you, they already know they’re making a mistake. Remember when your mom made you hang out with that weird kid in your elementary school who liked killing bugs and never closed his mouth? That’s what you’re doing now, as an adult human being, only you’re not your mom! You don’t have her bone structure or good intentions, and you certainly shouldn’t be forcing anybody to be your friend—especially her. It sucks, but our planet is literally so overpopulated by people to befriend that Al Gore is about to drown in a Prius full of his own tears just thinking about it. So make new friends! Join your company’s softball league. Get into polyamory. Follow people who smell nice around Whole Foods until they add you on Facebook. Make them take cooking classes with you. Not your ex.

Here are the myriad delights agreeing to be friends with exes have gotten me, in descending order: a burned copy of the Black Star album, groped on the butt, text messages at 4 A.M., text messages from that guy’s wife.

 

Maybe someday, we’ll all be more evolved—we’ll all break up but remain friends, raising the children we’ve named after J. Crew pants together on compounds with our other spouses and their spouses —but until that day, let’s just make a clean break and do what nature intended: keep chasing that strange. Jen can get her own fucking bagels.

 

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About Sarah Crow

Writer, natural redhead, semi-professional napper.

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