Last year, I dated a guy who was one of those people always hanging out with a core group of mates, people he’d known for years and years. He was also one of those people who brought whoever he was dating right into that group, fluidly merging his dating life and his friendship circle like it was nbd that a girl he’d been seeing for a matter of weeks was palling around with his friends from Uni and hell, even childhood.
We only dated for a few months, which isn’t a long time in the dating world. But friendship wise? If you’re like me and make friends in literal SECONDS when you think someone’s a total legend, it’s a lifetime.
I haven’t seen that guy in almost a year now, but I haven’t gone longer than a few days without speaking to his housemates, who I am STILL firm friends with.
Weird? YES! Absolutely it’s weird. But this is a trend for me – I meet cool people through the person I’m dating, I become friends with them during that dating period, and then shit goes south with the dude, but instead of cutting him and all his connections from my life, I retain the friendships I made. I have around 5 very close friends I’ve collected from exes. Nat, Dee and Rachel were girls I met through my ex years back. Emma and Mel (another Mel) were that ex from last year’s housemates, and Jayne was his friend I met when she came over for a Walking Dead marathon one night (lol).
If I’m honest, I think my initial intention when keeping an ex’s friends in my life is to retain some kind of connection to the ex, however tenuous. Breakups are HARD. You’re left floundering when this person you cared about is literally cut out of your life, so naturally you clutch onto friendships you made while with them like life rafts. It’s probably not healthy.
BUT. These days I think it’s actually okay in the long run.
See, I believe everyone I’ve dated long-ish term has benefitted my life in some way – even if they piss me off at the end by, you know, deciding they don’t want to be with me (how dare). But those relationships and the support I got from them are nothing compared to the support a good friend can bring into your life, and all the friends I’ve kept from exes are extremely good mates. They’re women who have been there for me when I’ve needed career advice. Who have helped me navigate tough decisions. Who have sent me flowers after hospital visits.
They’re also fucking funny, intelligent, brilliant people – and shit you guys, if there’s one thing we need more of in our lives it’s people who make them better. So why throw them out when a relationship ends?
Well, we probably do it because it can be INCREDIBLY sucky – the bit where you’re getting over the ex, so seeing the people that are still firmly in his/her life is tough as hell? That bit is really, really shitty. One of the ground rules I make is telling the friends to give me NO info on the ex – I made the grave error of asking a friend-of-ex once if said ex was seeing anyone, got the “yeah, he is” answer, and died for weeks over it. NOT A FUN TIME. Do not do. Trust me.
You’re also putting yourself through the wringer for a bit because these friends will always remind you of that person, and for a while that’s going to be a little soul-destroying. They’ll drop his/her name in conversation because hey, this is a person that is a central figure in their daily goings-on. And every time, you’ll tense up (even these days, I still get the full-body spasm).
But I can now say, on the other side of both of those relationships and firmly outside the grieving period, that it’s worth it. These days those women are simply my friends – not “friend of [insert name]”, but MY friend. I’ve been mates with all of them now for longer than I was in a relationship with the person I met them through. Those guys are just good memories now firmly in my past, but these women are people who continue to be part of my current world – and a really bloody good part of it at that.
So here’s to the friends you make through your exes. My vote? Keep ’em.