Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why can't we be friends?

Recently, I received an AIM from an old, former friend. He was a nice guy but we had to stop hanging out. I can't remember who fell for whom first or if we tumbled in together but it happened. He wasn't a Muslim so I just couldn't allow myself to go there. For that reason, I was content to keep my feelings to myself but he didn’t have that self-restraint. We tried to be friends after the big reveal but things were never the same. Eventually, we just drifted apart because neither one of us wanted to officially say that we couldn't be friends. There were the occasional IMs but things weren't the same. By the time six or so months had passed; we had completely stopped contacting each other. His recent message was full of warm, fuzzy reminisces. I was glad my away message was on. It would have been a nice trip down memory lane but not one we needed to take together.

There's a reason we're not friends anymore; it wasn't good for either of us. He was in love with me, I was halfway in love with him, and we couldn't (I wouldn’t) do anything about it. There's no need to be in that situation. It's best to just walk away. My foolish, young heart couldn't stand the thought of hurting him by constantly being around him and I didn't want to deal with it either so I let communication lapse. As for now, I just don't see a reason for us to reconnect. While I no longer have feelings for him; there's no need for us to relive the past. It happened and we've both moved on. Sure, we could chat online every so often but there's really no point.

I guess that's harsh but it's true, IMO. There are some people that I just feel don't need to keep in my life or let reenter my life. Former romantic entanglements are those people. There are people that can remain friends with their exes; they even prefer it. I am not one of those people. I am not a "let's be friends" kind of girl. If we started out as friends; things seem to be weird afterwards. If we didn't start as friends; what's the point? This is hurtful for a lot of people but if your relationship has ended, you have the right to not want to be around that person. It's not necessarily saying anything against the ex; you just can't be around them right now, maybe not ever. It could be that they're a constant reminder of a foolish mistake or a period in your life you would rather forget. It could be that contact with you, even hearing about you, reopens that wound. As much as it may bother you; there's really nothing you can do but accept it.

One of my sorority sisters was obsessed with being friends with all of her exes. By junior year she had this string of ex-boyfriends/pseudo friends that she kept in touch with. Then she has the nerve to wonder why she can't keep a boyfriend. No one wants to deal with all of that baggage you're dragging behind you. That's not cool and that's exactly what a bunch of exes turned friends are; baggage. You can try to dress it up but the plain truth is that you're just dragging your past around with you like an oversized weekender. Even if it's fine with you, think of how awkward it is for your significant other. Here you are reliving the good ole days with some ex-flame while simultaneously trying to cultivate this new relationship. I'm no psychologist but I just don't think that's conducive to a healthy relationship. Of course, there are exceptions; like the old friend you briefly dated but in general, it's just not a good idea.


Suroor said...

I think you are doing the right thing. Every person has an individual life style, preferences, and ways to live it. You are doing what suits you. Good girl!

AKA said...

Belive it or not, I'm in the same situation! I was friends with a guy, way back in my youth lol, and we really liked each other but didn't act on it b/c he, like me, wanted someone of his own religion. I had a few friends who had crossed that inter-faith line but I knew I could never do it. We did tried to stay friends despite knowing how the other felt and then (luckily) I moved away and slowly severed all ties. I recently got in touch with someone who was a mutual friend and she gave him my contact info (assuming I'd like the "surprise"). Like you, I feel there's no point to the friendship, we're so far apart and are so different now. I want to forget everything that happened then, but feel obliged to talk reply when he IMs me (thank God for the block feature!).

brookem said...

I agree, it can be so hard to be friends with exes- especially if things didn't end mutually. I am "friends" with one of my exes from long ago.. but not the type to hangout regularly- just a phone call every few months. Then, there's the one. The one that it hurts to be friends with. I broke up with him, go figure, but even though it was the right thing, it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I still loved him when I broke it off, and continuing contact with him, I've learned, only brings up emotions I don't want stirred up again. It's in the past, it happened for a reason, and there is no sense in trying to make us into friends when clearly we cannot do that. I cannot do that. Not with him. It's too hard.
Wow, sorry, I just shared probably way more than necessary. This post just found me at an interesting time I guess.
I'm Meg, btw.

ruby said...

I was waiting for this post...
Baggage & constant reminders. You're right. Some of them are just baggage and need to be forgotten. I need to remember that...

Atifa said...

Would I sound totally retarded if I said I don’t even have an ex? In my 25 soon to be 26 years, it just hasn’t happened that there was any acknowledged mutual interest. Does that make me weird?

What I can say is when I’d be interested in someone; I wasn’t interested in being friends. Then when someone was interested in me and the decision came as a no, I didn’t want to have contact with them. Not because, I’m cold or harsh but mostly because I didn’t see any reason to. I don’t believe guys and girls can be friends, so if this isn’t going to marriage, then continued talking seems like a wasted effort. The two times I did keep contact was because, now prepare yourselves, they were cousins and they would have messages from their parents to mine. Even that didn’t work because they’d use it as an excuse to make me reconsider, so I eventually had to cut them off. Another time I found myself interested in someone I’d known for a long time. But for some reason I never said anything and one day he got married. I wasn’t ever worried about affecting the ‘friendship’ but I’ll be the first to admit that the friendship was a total cover. After he got married and my friendship stopped, he was confused but eh…what do I care? :p He was no longer worth the effort.

And you thought you were harsh. :p

singlemuslimah said...

Suroor: Thanks.
AKA: "way back in my youth" haha! Because we're so old, right? Anyway, yes, I really just don't cross the inter-faith line. That way lies madness.
Meg: Welcome! I hope you'll be back. And no, you didn't overshare. I love when people relate to my posts; it makes me feel I'm not as crazy ;).
Ruby: Yep, it's like that Ericka Badu song Bag Lady. If you've never heard it, look up the lyrics.
Atifa: Aww, sweetie, no! You don't sound retarded. I don't really have any exes either. I don't date and I never have. I've had romantic entanglements. You know the ones, girl likes guy or guy likes girl but nothing happens. Anyway, I don't really belive that men and women can be friends either but it does happen (the becoming friends part not remaining friends). I was working with the guy this post is about and we just became friends. Another guy I grew up with and when we met in college we just kind of fell into friendship. Those are really the only male friends I've ever really had, except for a gay friend from college. Obviously, he's no threat.

You are not harsh. I mean, certainly it's not the nicest thing in the world but sometimes life just doesn't work out that way.

Sarah said...

I am only friend with one of my "exes", and that's in quotes, because we were never entirely clear on our relationship status. He's a good guy, and I like having him in my life from time to time - he's another warm body at friendly gatherings, and there's no awkwardness when he shows up at another friend's party...

But in general, I just can't do the "friends" thing. If we're done, we're done, and it would hurt too much to be around you knowing that what we once had is over now...My boyfriend, on the other friend, is still friends with both of his exes, but they live on the other side of the country, so I'm not jealous. Not a bit.

Anonymous said...

I think you did the right thing.

I have found myself in many entanglements (unfortunately) in my life so far but i want to share the one that sticks out in my mind the most.

during ramadan i befriended a young woman who moved from out of the state and diddnt quite have a social base in the community yet. i felt it would be the kind thing to do to be her friend and introduce her to others in the community. our friendship hit it off pretty well and we were communicating back and forth pretty often, meeting occasionally for a workout or group lunch. it was what i thought a normal friendship until 'the talk' came up. She told me that she needed to know if i could ever consider her for marraige, and i told her plainly no. I was kind and she took it well, so i thought it would be the end of the topic and we'd continue on as friends. and so it went until i got a call from her brother on the other side of the continent about a couple weeks later telling me that i was the reason she wasnt considering other proposals she had, so i either man up and propose or leave her alone. i told him how i felt (not interested) and how i explained it pretty clearly to her, and he explained to me that i was wrong. I the only option i had was to stop talking with her.

this was the first time i'd ever heard of being so hurt by somebody they werent in love with. i have been through (sadly) several unsuccessful relationships which diddnt really 'fail' but couldnt continue because of one reason or another.

i dunno why im sharing this but i really wanted to get it out after reading your post if only for your commiseration.

-HC guy