Lesbianing With AE: How Soon Can You Really Be Friends With Your Ex?

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Dear Lindsey, 

I’m trying to remain friends with my ex but it’s really hard. I didn’t see the breakup coming and while I wasn’t looking at it as a forever relationship, since we’re both young, I was really devastated. Still am. My friends were really supportive through all the tears but I feel like they are getting impatient for me to get back out there. My ex has moved on. She’s not flaunting it in my face or anything but she’s made it clear that the door is closed romantically but that she is there for me as a friend. She even showed up to help me move when I put out a call on IG. When I’m honest with myself I don’t want to put myself back out there yet and I don’t want to chitchat with her about her new relationships at brunch. I miss waking up to sweet texts from her, spending our Friday nights cooking a healthy meal together and bingeing on Netflix…and I feel like I’m isolating myself so I can relive those memories as a way of letting them go and grieving what we had. I feel torn between my ex’s expectation that we resume an instant friendship, my friend’s expectations that I get out there and my own stupid feelings. When does it get better? Is a friendship doomed until I feel nothing for her? 

– Missing What We Had 

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Dear Missing, 

There’s no timeline for grief. 

It’s totally natural to be missing what the two of you had even if you didn’t see yourself locking it down with your ex. 

And, yes, your friendship is doomed until you process your breakup. This doesn’t mean “feeling nothing,” but that you actually feel ready to redefine your relationship on a friend level without a secret agenda of winning her back.

Your ex is sending clear signals that she’s there for you as a friend. It’s up to you if and when you want to return that friendship. It’s within your right to tell her you can’t be close that way, or that you need more time to get there but hope to, soon. It’s way easier if you can be friends with your exes because there are only so many gay women in your corner of the world and it sounds like your friends are enmeshed, but if you can’t, you can’t. Know yourself and honor yourself.

It’s way easier if you can be friends with your exes because there are only so many gay women in your corner of the  world and it sounds like your friends are enmeshed, but if you can’t, you can’t. Know yourself and honor yourself.

Your friends are trying to help you move on in the best way they know how out of care and consideration for you. It’s your hurt that’s telling you they’re judging you for not being ready. Pick one pal who really gets you and let her know that, while you appreciate your lesbian posse’s attempts to help you find a new lady, what you need now is some time being single. 

I’d encourage you not to isolate yourself as you get over a bad breakup. Wallowing in a bubble bath scrolling through the texts she sent you isn’t helping you get over anything, it’s keeping you in the pain of the breakup. 

You don’t want to hit the lesbian parties with your friends right now, but I bet there’s something you would enjoy doing with company. Seek solace in the friends that let you be you: the ones who don’t pressure you to not feel sad if you’re blue or to get back on the dating scene or come to a party where your ex will be. The ones who are totally cool with just going to the cat cafe if that’s the only thing making you smile these days. 

Do those things with as open of a heart as you can. That means: not beating yourself up when you feel sad, but not trying to find the sadness in every moment (like checking in to see if you still feel like crap or if you’re “over it yet”). Experiencing what you are experiencing and feeling without judging it. Appreciating the moments of happiness and feeling (but not wallowing in) the dark moments. 

In the short term, wallowing as a way to process your grief feels good — but it can backfire in the long term, especially if it ends up enshrining the relationship as some gold standard to which all future girlfriends must match up or be banished. You’re young. You hurt. It feels like you will never date again or at least never with the same wonder and terror as falling for this woman, and all of those feelings are valid breakup feelings and the only way out is through them. 

You’re young. You hurt. It feels like you will never date again or at least never with the same wonder and terror as falling for this woman, and all of those feelings are valid breakup feelings and the only way out is through them.

Trust and believe that one day it will hurt less…then less…then one day you will notice the flaming barista who’s been making you perfect latte hearts for weeks and your heart will make some jazz hands and you will be, in your own way, open to new love.