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Can We Still Be Friends?
Can We Still Be Friends?

In the wake of a romance, can a new relationship still blossom?

Trina Epilepsia Boutain

A year after we’d broken up, my ex-sent me a birthday greeting on Facebook. It seemed innocuous—it was link to a song we’d always liked—easily categorized as “something that friends do.” Yet I found myself tearing up and missing something I didn’t know what exactly to the point of mourning. Perhaps the song’s wistful ode to happiness uncovered a path I thought I’d already passed, but had in fact returned to again and again. In between sniffles something in my subconscious clicked: it couldn’t go on like this.

The years after, our once strong friendship faded (“You’re family,” he once said, defiantly, post-breakup). I suppose we could still be considered friends, if only because we are still on each other’s social media friends list and our families message each other randomly. I now refer to him as “an ex-boyfriend” and no longer “my ex.” When the American actress Gwyneth Paltrow famously announced hers and British singer Chris Martin’s conscious uncoupling, I thought of my own failed attempts at it. In the end, I was content to be a Facebook friend, one that merits a cursory like, but never a comment. This is a common story for many ex-couples. Many don’t even accept friend requests on social media, but stalk them on birthdays and Valentine’s. Despite this, many others are able to pull this off, this joyful uncoupling that requires equal parts zen-like acceptance and blithe indifference.

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September 2018