They say his name out loud and it hits me like a punching bag. To them, he is still the same friend he has always been. To me, he is the ex-boyfriend I am trying my hardest to move on from.
Welcome to the ultimate torture: being in the same friend group as your ex.
When you break up with someone, you need to cut loose and learn to let go. The person you could once turn to at any time of day is no longer “yours”, and you need to learn to live your life without them. After a few months of awkward friendship, it is time to move on with your life. But if you have ever broken up and realized that you and your ex have a TON of mutual friends, then you know that the whole process is a lot easier said than done.
In my teen years I watched television couples handle this situation gracefully time and time again. On Friends, I saw Ross and Rachel go from friends to a couple and back to friends again more times than I can count. On How I Met Your Mother, I watched as Robin kept her dignity while going back and forth between Ted, Barney and other guys. We also saw how Ted held his emotions intact as he watched his best friend marry the love of his life. Even though I am not going to say it looked easy, there was always a sense of making it work. And even though I know that TV-programs are not real, I kind of thought they gave a good idea of how it would be in real life. I guess I was wrong.
Just because we broke up does not mean that my friends are no longer friends with him.
When it comes to the matter of being friends with or even just being in the same friend group as your ex, I think it is a personal choice on how exactly you handle the situation. If you want to cut him out of your life completely, go for it… Just keep in mind that your friends might still hang out with them and talk about them, so make sure that you’re open to the idea of that happening. If you want to try to stay friends with them, you have to be honest with yourself and make sure that there are no underlying feelings or any hopes of getting back together. You don’t want to break your heart yet another time.
Another important factor is to be honest with your friends about what you are thinking and feeling. Do not put them in the middle of it or try to persuade them in any direction. Just make sure that you tell them how you are feeling and what you will be comfortable with.
Letting go and moving on is never easy. It took me quite a while to get used to not talking to my ex every day, not ending every night with a good night from him, and not tagging him in every adorable and hilarious animal photo that made me think of him. But after a while of self-awareness and discipline, I learned how to live a full life without him. I still miss him more than anything else, but I have accepted the fact that he is no longer mine to keep. What is mine to keep though, are my friends that stuck by us both after the breakup, and for that I am forever grateful.