Friends to Foes?

In response to yesterday’s post about defriending, unfriending, or whateverfriending people on Facebook, dear Lemmonex commented regarding having been Facebook friends with friends of a guy she dated, the relationship breaking up, and still getting updates on those friends, adding:

“I actually did like those folks. Too bad we cannot see each other from time to time on more than just facebook.”

My first impulse was to be glad that she appears to abide by the post breakup rule(s) as friends of the ex goes – and I mean ex-boy/girlfriend, ex-fling, ex-whatever. And then I wondered whether everyone follows, or even knows the rules.

I should set this up with a story. It was the fall of 2000 (my god, that long ago?). I had broken up with my girlfriend a short time before. She was one of those girlfriends that my friends didn’t like, only they didn’t tell me until after the end because they were afraid I’d get mad, but I told them they should’ve told me sooner because if they don’t accept her she has no chance of surviving. I think we’ve all had one of those. Anyway, through hanging out with my friends, Ex had acquired various email addresses and AIM screennames of friends of mine. I was planning a trip down to Virginia Tech to see a bunch of friends, and a couple of friends from up here were rolling with. Well, news of the breakup did not filter down very quickly (before the advent of the MyFace, obviously, as everyone and their mother would’ve seen the broken heart icon), one thing led to another, and Ex found out about the trip and attached herself to it. Friends were accepting of this because those that told her didn’t know we’d broken up. I was not accepting of this because we had broken up, and when friends who had previously not been in the know became in the know, they were not accepting of this any longer. Suddenly, as the trip inched closer, it became my job to intervene and tell Ex that she wasn’t going. After all, it wasn’t friends’ faults that they let the cat out of the bag. They had no way of knowing we had broken up, and Ex wasn’t exactly forthcoming with that info. So one day I intervened via instant messenger. I explained that she couldn’t go on the trip without telling her that my friends didn’t like her. At that point I did not desire to hurt her feelings, but just gently scoot her out of the situation. That proved to be futile as she was dead set on going despite my protests, and then she decided to drop this bomb on me:

“Whatever. It’s not my fault that I made friends with your friends and you can’t handle it.”

I swear I heard a record scratch in my head. Suddenly I no longer did not desire to hurt her feelings. I told her the reason I IMed her was because those friends asked me to. I told her that they didn’t like her but never told me because she was my girlfriend. I told her she wasn’t going because, now that we were broken up, none of my friends were picking her up and she certainly wasn’t riding with me. I told her there was nothing else for her to say and to stay home. I hung up. The only thing I didn’t tell her was “bitch, please.”

The lesson? Your ex’s friends are your ex’s friends. Unless.

Two things can open the door to the continuation of friendship with friends of an ex:

1) You and friend hang out often without significant other around.

2) Friend reaches out to you first.

That’s it. That’s the list.

Hanging out often with a friend of a significant other without the significant other there? I think that’s the sign of a legitimate friendship. Now, whether that friendship is important enough to stand through the breakup depends on whether the friend wants to continue it, which might depend on whether the ex cares. You know, the loyalty of friends and everything.

If it isn’t already established that the friend wants to continue to be friends, the friend can reach out to you, but you should respect that the friend is the ex’s and not contact first. The friend reaching out means that either the ex doesn’t care or the ex doesn’t know that the friend wants to still be friends with you. Either way, it’s the friend initiating.

Otherwise? The friends of the ex are no longer yours when you break up. Those are the rules, those are the facts. Now, what do you do?

Friends to Foes?

3 Responses

  1. But a Goose is forever.

    Yes, Goose. So true.

  2. 100%. It’s often a sad thing, I’ve missed both family and friends of exes- but the parting is absolutely non-negotiable.

  3. Yeah, I so agree with you!

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