Let’s stay friends. Part 2. Friendship between a man and a woman
In the first part we looked at the relationship between a crisis in the relationship and the proposal to translate them into friendship, as well as scenarios in which the proposal clearly means a desire to stop your partner relationship. As the conversation continues, let’s look at what dictates the partner’s offer to stay friends.
Why does the partner offer to stay friends, rather than ending the relationship completely?
Unfortunately, such an offer, does not always mean an intention to be friends. It is possible that your lover sulked and did not find enough strength to tell you honestly that it is all over between you.
Dictated such behavior guilt in front of you, already a former member / woman relationship and the desire to smooth out internal discomfort. So to speak, to save face in front of himself – to keep a good opinion of himself. Thus, the partner will gradually accustom you to the idea that you are not together, making the breakup less painful for you. This is the “wise and noble” way of solving the problem helps him / her to avoid feelings of guilt towards you.
If friendship is more than love.
Of course, it happens that a man and a woman are converging due to the commonality of interests in life, views, the same world view. The priority here could be a passion for an idea, the desire to achieve a common goal. This is especially characteristic of people who have devoted themselves to a career or creativity.
And in this case a love relationship can distract such a person from the dominant sphere and create unnecessary tension in the couple. This is what can serve to make a partner want to break off the love relationship, but leave the opportunity to communicate with a person close in spirit and offer: “Let’s stay friends.”
Here you need to understand that it is the love relationship that the person wants to put a stop to. Despite the fact that he sincerely wants to continue communicating with you, all attempts to get closer than a friend will be suppressed. This will be perceived by him as an obstacle to achieving his goals and limiting his freedoms.
If the fear of intimacy stops
There is another situation in which the lover suddenly offers to stay friends, when you seemed to work out fine at first. It is at this point, when the relationship becomes more intimate (in the spiritual, not physical sense) or a partner needs to make a commitment, he / she offers a little distance – to communicate just as friends. However, at the same time, there is no suggestion of separation.
This is connected with the fact that due to his/her fears, complexes, negative experiences, on the one hand, the partner is afraid to enter into a long-term close relationship. Such ambivalence of your partner’s needs can lead your relationship into a game of “closer or farther away”.
This means that whenever you get emotionally close to your partner, he/she will show a coldness. However, once you agree to a mere friendship, your partner will rebuke you for not loving him or her enough. And if your behavior is not very convincing in your partner’s opinion, he/she will prefer to break them off.
Although for a while, you may be able to hold on to such a relationship. Here the peculiarity of friendship between a man and a woman will be the confusion of the very concepts in this relationship. You will be considered a “friend,” but a very close one. So close that sometimes you will wake up in the same bed.
This behavior is caused by the underlying problems of the partner/she, related to a basic distrust of the world. It is formed in early childhood as a result of parental upbringing. It is the disturbance in the development of the relationship between the child and the parents that has the consequence of the child growing up in adulthood avoiding relationships with people because he or she has no relevant experience of being in them.
This is the only case in which the partner/she has a need for a close relationship. However, his/her own fear stops him/her from seeking intimacy and makes it nearly impossible for the partner to build a truly trusting and long-lasting relationship.
If the third one is superfluous
Perhaps the most unenviable situation if you are caught in a love triangle.
When a guy and a girl get into a loving relationship, and then it turns out that your loved one is married or just has a relationship on the side. And these other relationships could have appeared both before you met and afterwards. The key point is the fact that the partner gives priority to the other relationships.
Such cheaters/families unconsciously enter into complicated relationships to feed their self worth through feelings of suffering, jealousy, guilt, remorse, and forgiveness. In this way, the person compensates for their inability to build a meaningful relationship as a couple. The surfacing of other relationships can affect future developments in a variety of ways.
Afraid to destroy their real relationship, he / she may try to translate yours into just a friendly format. The fact is that as long as you have not claimed exclusive rights to him / her – the partner could afford a relationship with you. As soon as it became a threat to a real relationship, your partner/she will make an attempt to distance you to a safe distance
And the offer – let’s stay friends – is just a signal that you are violating his/her comfort zone. You’re being given to understand that you don’t actually have any exclusive rights to him/her. In this case, if there will be a love relationship, it will be purely “for friendship”.
In the other version of the love triangle, he / she, on the contrary, wants to continue a close relationship with you, but without prejudice to the present. This is especially expressed in the classic triangle “husband-wife-mistress of the husband. The man himself in this scenario is happy with everything, and he does not intend to change anything. And in order to smooth out this awkward moment – about his double life, he may offer to stay friends.
In this case, emphasizes your role in his life, where you are given an honorable second place after his wife.
Relationships in a love triangle is the subject of a separate article.
In the context of today’s topic, it is important for us to look at this situation from the perspective of understanding the partner’s offer: “Let’s stay friends.
The proposal in this situation means that you are being offered to enter into a love triangle deliberately. The friendship between a man and a woman in such a triangle has its own nuances. Calling you a “friend”, your partner, however, will imply you as a “lover”.
Remember that in such a triangle, in fact, all participants suffer, and the possibility of finding personal and family happiness for you is rather questionable.
What if you do take the risk and agree to the friendship?
Before agreeing to such friendship, you should pay attention to an important nuance in this situation. Try to determine for yourself:
- What do I want out of this relationship?
- How do I feel about my partner/s?
- Are you able to communicate with your partner without feeling sexual desires for him/her?
- Are you sure you won’t be jealous of your partner/she with his/her new partner/s?
Note that you have opposite needs in this relationship – you want a loving relationship and are striving for it, while your partner doesn’t want love with you and will avoid it. Therefore, you will not be able to build a normal relationship, even just a friendly one.
What will happen to you in such a friendship? You will constantly be proving your worthiness as a lover. Torture yourself with questions: What is wrong with me? What am I wrong? Why she / he does not want to be with me? This kind of friendship will be accompanied by a lot of inner turmoil for you. By agreeing to the “let’s stay friends” proposal, you are likely to experience a mixed cocktail of resentment, anger, and despair.
And these feelings won’t be reciprocated because your friend/girlfriend won’t be able to share them. If he/she acknowledges your feelings, this in turn will cause him/her to feel guilty for “what he/she has done,” for not reciprocating with you, for breaking off the relationship. And it is with these feelings he / she does not want to meet. As a result, dissatisfaction will increase in both partners. Your pain and frustration will only increase.
Of course, you can try to suppress his feelings and somehow stay in the relationship. Then you run the risk of serving your “friend/girlfriend” unilaterally. Get used to the fact that you are always ready at the first call to come listen, help, support, please. In the hope that one day your efforts will be appreciated!
And if you are trying to do everything to make your/your lover/my loved one feel good by sacrificing your own needs, this is where you need to think:
- Why should I ignore my own feelings?
- Why am I in such a difficult relationship that only brings pain and suffering?
- What makes me stay in a relationship that destroys me and my life?
We are not talking about a healthy relationship here, but about your tendency toward love addiction. Get out of such a relationship by yourself can be quite difficult, and this is the case when it is better to ask for help from a psychologist.
Thus, agreeing to such friendship, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to build the relationships that you would like to have in life, simply because you have no one to build them with. After all, your “friend” falls away (he/she will be busy looking for another object of love – otherwise he/she wouldn’t break off relations with you).
And for you there will be no other possible potential partners while your desires will be focused on winning someone who does not take part in your war called “I will prove that I am worthy of you.
You should be friends only with friends! And then friendship between a man and a woman is possible. If your partner is “more than a friend,” then the relationship must be more than friendly. And this is the case when the friendship between a man and a woman – is impossible.
Is it worth comforting yourself with empty hopes and illusions? Or is it better to break up with someone with whom you can not have a future? After all, only then you will have a chance to find the person with whom you will be possible to really close relationship in which you will be happy!
What does it mean to stay friends with an ex-partner and is it worth it?
My line of work keeps me up to date and learning new things all the time. I love to learn and develop.
Expert – Margarita Lopukhova
Family psychologist. For 8 years I have been saving “family units” from disintegration. I help couples regain love and understanding.
Separation – a decision that, in any case, will affect the lives of men and women who were in a relationship. How they behave after the breakup will depend on their state of mind and the rest of their lives. And when a couple decides: “Let’s part friends” – it is not always for the best. When such a decision is really useful, and when it is better to abandon it, it is useful to know everyone whose relationship is on the verge of rupture.
When to stay friends – a good idea?
So, a couple has decided that absolutely losing touch is too much, and it is worth staying in a buddy relationship. Family psychologists from the United States and other countries have found out in which cases such a decision will be correct.
When a man and a woman both realize that after a breakup they need to be alone and go through a painful change in their personal lives on their own. If the couple is ready for this, then after a while they will come to terms with the idea “We are no longer a couple” and can build a buddy relationship.
Friends can become those exes who talked frankly before the breakup and realized that their relationship has no prospects, but still consider each other interesting people. In this case, there remains respect between partners, which over time replaces the pain of losing a loved one and serves as the basis for friendship.
Also, couples who have built their relationship on communication are more likely to part as friends. There are times when communication is great, but love affairs (sex, courtship, etc.) don’t work out. But it is important to wait out the breakup, because people with quality communication can quickly agree and decide how to glue the broken cup back together.
If ex-spouses have children, that’s a good reason to stay at least as buddies. This will keep the children’s psyche from severe trauma. Even if there is no desire to build a friendly relationship with your former partner, it will be enough to develop patience and goodwill towards him.
Factors that force a couple to remain friends
Some factors can literally force exes to build a friendship relationship. The first is working together. There are cases when in the past lovers, in the present work in the same company or are partners. Then work becomes above resentment, pain, desire for revenge and other “side effects” of the breakup. But in some cases, it is easier to quit the job you love than to make contact with your exes.
Shared friends. If a couple has been hanging out in the same company for a long time, after they break up, friends will have to choose with whom to continue communicating. This spoils the quality of communication within the group of people, provokes rumors and conflicts. If the company is important to young people, and the breakup did not happen for serious reasons (cheating, betrayal, etc.), then remaining friends is a logical decision.
Mutual benefit. As mercantile as it may sound, but if the ex (or ex) is a specialist in something (such as a good lawyer or plumber), you won’t want to give up free help for friendship. That is why some couples, who have not hurt each other much during the relationship, build friendships with an eye on the future. What if you need something?
The pitfalls of deciding to be friends after a relationship
In some cases, the exes who remain in a friendship face some unpleasant moments. The main ones are:
A couple has broken up, but has decided to continue communicating. They correspond in social networks, call each other or even discuss the latest events over dinner at a coffee shop. Topics of conversation can be different: work and hobbies, common acquaintances and even memories from a shared past. But there comes a time when one of the couple gets a new soul mate and tells his former partner about it, in all the colors, with compliments and glowing with happiness eyes.
What happens? A tiny percentage of your exes will actually be happy and wish you happiness. But the majority will wake up a sense of ownership. The friend will begin to compare himself to the new half of the ex, will feel resentment and may confuse this feeling with a love that has not yet faded. This will only confuse both partners and is likely to damage the relationship.
Communicating with an ex is also fraught with consequences for new love ties. Even if the person no longer has any feelings for the ex, except for friendship, the new couple is unlikely to be excited about such a relationship. Both men and women will develop jealousy if their significant other has a previous lover in their inner circle. Especially at the beginning of a relationship, when there is still no guarantee that passionate feelings will not flare up again between the separated people. Therefore, simple friendly correspondence with a “hero” from the past can lead to conflicts in a new relationship.
Here we need to think: Is a person ready to sacrifice a new relationship, for the sake of those that have essentially already sunk into the past?
Awkward conversations and “sharp corners” in communication emerge from the previous two factors. Any conversations that in one way or another will touch on the partners’ shared past can be classified as taboo. For example, discussing a dog they bought together or talking about a new partner. This will burden the communication, then why is it necessary at all?
There is another scenario where former partners take a long time to build a new relationship, but continue to communicate. In such situations there is an increased risk that partners again see attractive features in each other.
A survey conducted in Germany by the public opinion research foundation EMNID confirms this. It showed that 60% of men and 43% of women were ready to make love to their former partner. Moreover, every fifth young man is ready to resume relations, and not just limited to friendly sex. Of the girls, only one in 16 was ready to give the relationship a second chance.
This is especially true for people with excellent compatibility in bed. It will seem like just fun, but soon there will be confusion. Combine sex and friendship will be very difficult, especially for a girl, because the weaker sex by nature tends to get attached to sexual partners. The pair itself will not understand how the former turned into friends, and then into lovers, the participants will be confused about their feelings … in general, the whole abracadabra.
When to remain friends – you can not?
The experience of psychologists shows that in some cases it is foolish to be friends after an affair. This includes several situations.
The first is when in a relationship one of the partners suffered from pathological jealousy. This will remain even in the friendship format of the relationship. Second – if the “backbone” in the relationship was only sex, and quality communication and common interests were absent. Third – one of the partners has experienced moral or physical abuse from the other. Friendship will only increase resentment or become the basis for new insults.
Another fact “against” the friendship between exes is the lack of respect or interest in the person. The attitude towards him will not change with the change in the format of communication, it will become burdensome and uninteresting.
In couples, the author of the idea of “parting as friends” often becomes only one of the partners. And the other agrees, as he still has feelings for the first and does not want to lose him. In his mind, he will always return to the times when everything was good, to regret the unfulfilled dreams and plans. This will be much more painful if there is an object of suffering. So in these situations, it is better not to suck “friendship” out of your finger.
And most importantly – if one of the pair suffered from addiction (games, alcohol, drugs), and his companion is tired of this struggle, the friendship will not help. It will only aggravate the situation and bring back the sickness from which the person wanted to escape.
When friendship after a relationship is just a cover?
There are situations when people can not break up, and in order to somehow maintain the relationship, come to the decision to remain friends. Often, it is just a cover for the true motives of the couple.
- Sexual affection
Erotic overtones can be a serious deterrent. This manifests itself in “casual” touching of hands or other body parts, far from friendly kissing, etc. Girls try to look as sexy as possible in front of their ex, wearing makeup and going to meetings as a date. Men call to go to the movies, to sit in a restaurant, to take a walk in the park. All in all, this resembles a candy-coating period and clouds the mind of former partners.
Solution: Sort out your feelings. Is the breakup really necessary, or did the lovers just rush into it?
- Existence of domestic ties.
This applies to couples who have lived together for a long time, but do not have children. It’s been a few months, and the girl still hasn’t picked up some things from her ex’s house? She probably just doesn’t want to. Many similar situations: financial support, asking for help, caring (for example, help during illness) can indicate that the relationship is not over and the partners need each other.
It is necessary to understand: is it just a fear of being left alone, or is it a real attempt to save the relationship? Partners must weigh the pros and cons of an affair, and make a final decision.
A girl or a guy is afraid to hear about each other’s new partners and avoids talking about them (if there is a new relationship). There is also the opposite model of behavior – someone of the former all the time tells the last partner how happy with the other, in order to cause jealousy.
To get to the bottom of this situation, you need to analyze your true feelings for your new partner. Is it really attraction, or is it done to spite the ex? If the first option – relations with your ex-boyfriend need to end. If the second – stop torturing the new companion/companion.
5 star couples who have managed to break up as friends
Many star couples have made the decision to “break up as friends,” completely unashamed of it. Today they serve as an example of how even after a long marriage to maintain mutual respect and positive emotions for each other.
Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony
This couple has been married for 7 years and have twin children together. For the public, the news of their divorce was a surprise, because quarrels and family problems have never been flaunted. Jennifer, in one interview, said that from now on she will love only herself. But paparazzi often see her with her ex at family gatherings or outings with children. Apparently, they have managed to maintain a friendly relationship.
Courtney Cox and David Arquette
The spouses lived together for 14 years and remained friends after their divorce. They have a common daughter who often spends time with both parents. Moreover, in interviews, both Courtney and David, always praise each other. She openly states that she loves him as a friend. Her ex-spouse considers her a wonderful person and an “incredible woman.”
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis
With 3 daughters and 13 years of marriage under their belt, the couple did break up. But even during Demi’s next marriage (to Ashton Kutcher), “Die Hard” often went to visit them. And after their divorce, Bruce visited his ex-spouse’s house, probably to be supportive. In the press, it is rumored that the actor even bought a house near his ex-wife. Apparently, the couple still have warm friendly feelings for each other.
Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis
For 14 years of life together, the couple had two children. When the first rumors of separation appeared, both partners denied it in unison. And even when the civil marriage came to an end, Johnny Depp said in interviews, “Vanessa is a woman who will always be present in my life.”
Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel
Monica, in numerous conversations with journalists, has repeatedly said that their relationship with Vincent was passionate and unpredictable. For the sake of children, whom both parents love very much, they remained close friends. Now paparazzi see them together not on the red carpet, but with children on walks.
Staying in a friendship relationship after an affair is not always as easy as it seems. But if it is necessary for both partners, especially those with common children, it is quite possible to make contact and become friends.