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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Break Before Friends?

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Author Topic: Break Before Friends?
Member # 43338

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I am wondering why conventional wisdom says to cut off contact with an ex before considering the possibility of a friendship with them.

Common reasons I’ve heard include:
- need “emotional space”
- need to have time to grieve
- adds confusion (“where do we stand?”)
- too hard not to fall back into a romantic relationship
- will hurt even more when one person enters a new relationship

I am confused because nearly everyone offers this advice, but the reasons given are vague. Why is this recommended for every situation? Aren’t relationships too complex for advice like this to be prescribed for everyone, whether they are exiting a two-week-long relationship, or a 20-year marriage?

If someone is important to you but the particular type of relationship needs to change, then isn’t avoiding all contact overly dramatic? If any type of relationship isn’t meant to be, then wouldn’t it still make more sense to let it fade gradually and evolve naturally? In certain circumstances, of course, it may be best (i.e. if there was abuse). But if two people are on the “same page” with each other, what is wrong with changing the nature of and reducing contact, without avoiding them all together?

I heard similar advice regarding starting college. They say you shouldn’t visit home for a good few weeks so you make the adjustment, avoid homesickness, and aren’t too reliant on home support systems. But when I started out, I went home every week, then every two weeks, and now—a year-and-a-half later—I’m here for about a month at a time (and it seemed to work well that way).

I'm not experienced with this. And maybe I'm way off. But just trying to understand the logic and question "common sense."

How do you feel about this issue? Agree/disagree? Reasons? Personal experiences regarding one way or the other?

Posts: 44 | From: California | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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To boil it down to the barest basics, it has to do with the fact that people can tend to get into patterns very easily and it can be tough for us to change them if all the circumstances around them don't change.

No, I don't think this needs to happen in every situation or does happen. Certainly, some people's breakups are also such that a relationship already HAS shifted into a platonic friendship by the time a breakup happens, too.

But this also has something to do with re-establishing lives as single or on our own. That can be tough to do if we're still basically living it the same way as when we were not. And a lot of people simply WANT that space: often, if they wanted to still be that close to someone or see them daily, they wouldn't have broken up in the first place.

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 43338

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Thank you, Heather. I appreciate your insight and honesty.

Does anyone else have some thoughts on this issue?

Posts: 44 | From: California | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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