Around this time last year, I was dating A Very Nice Guy Who Just Wasn’t Right For Me.
Also: eating carbs and cheese in various combinations.
I finally worked up the nerve to end things and closed the conversation with ye olde “but I’d like to be friends.”
And then, dear readers, to the horror of us both, I actually tried to do that.
Was I interested in getting him back? Not at all! Did I miss my friend? Yes. Was there a hip-hop-show-companion shaped hole in my social life? Yes. Did I worry that he hated me? Yes.
Now, if you’re keeping track, exactly none of those concerns had anything to do with Very Nice Guy I Dumped. They had everything to do with me, my needs, and my ego.
When we end things with someone – a romantic partner, a friend, even someone we’ve employed – we become a source of discomfort. As much as we’d like to stay in touch, stay friends, stay in the loop, we need to put the ball in their court. When you’ve ended something, you no longer have a say in how that person spends their time or directs their feelings. And if you really, actually care about them you’ll give them the space they need to decide how (or if) you’ll be part of their life.
So what does this look like in real life?
If you know he’s having a hard time getting over your break up, don’t text him those inside jokes you used to share.
If you know she’s still hanging on, despite the divorce papers, don’t tell her that she looks great and you like that haircut.
If you know he’s still holding out hope that you’re ready for a serious relationship, stop it with the late night booty calls.
If you don’t want the best friendship that she does, stop inviting her out for one-on-one drinks while you unload all your problems on her.
Sometimes love comes in the shape of space.
A tough but clean break.
How do you deal with exes? Do you give yours space? Do you wish yours would let you be so you could get on with your life?
Edited to add: You also have the right to be left alone. If someone hurts you or ends things and then wants to be part of your life, you can tell them that you’d prefer not to be friends. You can to choose who’s in your life!
photo by beureumbodas // cc