We Broke Up – How Can We Be Friends?

| 08/01/2009 | Comments (1)

Question:  How would you handle it if the woman you are very interested in rejects you but then wants to remain friends? I know it’s not in my best interest to try to be friends with a woman that I love but wants nothing more. What I don’t understand is that she knows how I feel about her yet it doesn’t seem to really matter to her how difficult it is for me. My question to you is how would you handle it? Avoid contact at all cost or put on a phony happy face whenever our paths cross? Or both? — Male, aged 35 



My Fellow Man,

First of all, how can you romantically “love” someone who has already rejected you? Why continue to put so much emotional energy towards something that does not exist, and that has a very low potential to do so? What do you hope to achieve from this; that she will EVENTUALLY see you in the same light? The odds are so stacked against you in that situation. Time is ticking! Why not re-invest your emotional energy into the possibilities of finding someone else that wants to direct such energy towards you, and you to her? You may very well be missing a great opportunity with someone that you will like, and who will like you in return.   

You are suffering from the dreaded phenomena some call “One-itis”. It is when a person develops this unbalanced fascination of a particular individual, and they start to believe that this particular individual is the ONLY person meant for them. I would like for you to take a personal assessment of your past and see just how many people you have “loved” and felt like at some time you were just going to die if you couldn’t have them. This is proof that others have passed in your life, you have not died, and the potential for someone else to captivate your mind and heart is there. You however, need to start having an expectation for the people you ALLOW yourself to KEEP in your life; that they will have the same level of concern, “love”, and respect that you desire for them. The one who can catch what you throw and throw it back is more likely the one truly into you and more likely the one truly down for you.    

My fellow man, as people we have REASON and EMOTION. If our lives were an image, REASON would be the lines that create the image, and EMOTIONS would be the colors and textures that enhance the image. You need a balance of BOTH. Too many lines and you just have a bland outline that is there, but empty; too much color and texture, and you have a blob of confusion, no true definition. What does this mean in your situation? You may have too much “color” in this “image” of you and your lady friend, and not enough “lines”. You may have invested too much Heart, and not enough Head.      being friends with an ex can cause problems if she's moved on to a new guy and you haven't done the same

So, what should you do? I’d say IF you decided to keep this woman in your life, keep her at a distance, because she has already told you where she stands. You are ONLY a “friend”, and most likely that’s all you will ever be to her. If you do not do this, you may become a tortured soul as her “Pet Dude”, designed for the purposes of having long drawn conversations about other men, washing cars, moving furniture, and eventually being invited to her wedding to another man, because you were “So Supportive”. 

So now, keep conversations short, witty and simple. Meet up with her in only group settings where there will definitely be more women, so you can talk to them and meet new “potentials”. You don’t do this to try to make her jealous (that’s an immature girly motive, and she probably won’t care). You do this to re-direct your romantic energies towards other potential women, who are more able to reciprocate your feelings and intentions. Also, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT do favors for her that are not severe emergencies. Do not condition her to make you that guy she can call for a “favor”. I would even say don’t let her make you her “booty buddy” either. If you’re getting antsy over just remaining her friend, I can only imagine if she shared some of her sexuality with you. Why is the Psycho “Shower Scene” music playing in my head now? 

She is your wonderful platonic female friend now, and you MUST establish healthy boundaries for her in your life, just like she has already done for you. IF you do not feel you can handle operating in this balance with her, it’s time to disappear in her life. She won’t be devastated, I’m sure of that. And continue on your journey to finding someone who will “love” you as much as you “love” them.



Well, Alvin certainly told you!  I don’t have much to add to his very thorough explanation except these three points: 

#1  Women have been socialized to “be nice” to men when rejecting them as boyfriends or husbands, to avoid being called a bitch or worst.  The offer of friendship by this woman falls into that category.  It’s merely polite drivel designed to “let you down easy”, and is not necessarily meant to be taken literally. She will make the offer as she has been socialized to do, but it is up to you to decide if such an arrangement works for you or not.  That is why it seems she doesn’t care that her offer is hurting you…. no one ever told her that guys might not be able to “roll with the punches” as easily as women have been told they can. Normally when women say this type of thing, they don’t really expect to actually hang out with you or anything anyway. 

Ugh, who wants to be bothered being friends with an ex?

#2  You can make the decision to tell her “sure, let’s just be friends” and go along with the fake friends thing.  You just don’t call her, she won’t call you, and life will go on. If she does call one day months from now, you cut it off short and get on with your life. No long, drawn out meandering conversations full of reminiscing and rehashing of the past.  Should you see her out in public, you can put on the fake smiley face and pretend it’s a pleasure to see her (while you barf in your mouth).  See that way, instead of making a big deal about the relationship ending, you two have put on the fake happy face, and each of you goes away rolling your eyes.  Yet you can smugly tell your friends “yes, we split up, but we’re so mature that we can break up and still be friends!”  

#3  However, my personal choice is to never be friends with an ex.  To me all that mess is a waste of my good time. Having some chump I didn’t want to be bothered with hanging around merely muddies up the water for the next relationshp. I don’t want any old raggedy baggage from the past popping up and interfering with what I have going on now.  

So, if you choose Option #3, I would suggest that you just flatly tell her “no thanks, I don’t want to be your friend. I have enough friends.  I prefer that you not call me, email or text me either.  If I see you around, I’ll say hello, but that’s it.  See ya around.”  That way there is clarity with your position, she knows exactly where things stand, and she knows that her calls or texts would be unwelcome.  Then you do the Vegas dealer hand brush “I’m out!” thing and do it movin’.

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Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray," and "Why Vegan is the New Black" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.

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  1. raz says:

    Good points from both. I learned the hard way that being friends with an ex just doesn’t work unless you’ve both really gotten over the other. sooner or later one or the other will try to backslide into being more than friends. It’s a waste of emotional energy and keeps you getting over that person because you are fixiated on them. Good point Alvin on the oneitis. As hard as it may be, it’s best to move it along else it becomes convenient sex for both people.

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