Friday, July 23, 2004

They say you can't be friends after a relationship. Are "they" (whoever "they" are) right?

To elaborate: for as long as I can remember, no one has ever said "we're just friends" if it was true, and "we're still friends" has almost always been followed by a qualifier - "we're still friends, but..."My father has been very surprised that both me and my sister maintain any relationship at all with our exes, let alone good ones. (My sister broke off a serious relationship at the start of last summer, if I remember correctly.) And a very memorable episode from Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Spike deliver a monologue to his nemeses Buffy and Angel about how, and why, they'll "never be friends". So I'm wondering, is what "they" say correct?

In one sense it's completely false, obviously. Gretchen and I are able to talk about serious issues, give each other shoulders to cry on, have fun together, and tell each other in-jokes - pretty much the definition of friends.

But on the other hand... well, there's always one person who leaves the other, one person who moves on quicker. A friendship isn't a relationship nor vice versa, so maybe one can't change to the other, at least not in normal circumstances. I was talking to Gretchen briefly about a problem between her and her boyfriend Nick and how it got resolved, and it seemed very, very similar to a problem there was between us that never got resolved. Or did, but in the worst possible way. It's always different. Some weeks ago I noticed on this computer a saved AIM chat between Zoë and her ex from back in January, and, well, he apparently hadn't moved on too well. And Zoë, for her part, has gone out of her way to avoid meeting his new girlfriend. And, while of course it's not something you learn about people right up front, my sister and I are the only examples I can think of where serious relationships became friendships.

Friends? Maybe. Normal friendship? Maybe not. You only have one "first time", only one first "real" relationship, only one first love. (Note, of course, that those might not be the same.) After having shared one or more of those major life milestones with someone, is it really possible to just hang out together and talk about hobbies you have in common?

Of course, I'm looking at this from the perspective of the guy who got left rather than did the leaving. But the same could easily apply to someone in the other position, I think. Maybe not in my situation, but in many others. And even between me and Gretchen, it's not me alone who contributes/has contributed to the friendship being... nontraditional.

Well, that's all for tonight. I'm tired, and I'm just drifting rather than getting anywhere. I learned a few weeks ago just how very beneficial it could be to sleep on stuff like this, and maybe I should have done that rather than write it all down. Maybe I'll edit this entry to have a "meaningful" ending or maybe I'll write another to finish it or maybe I'll just let it stand like this.

1 comment:

A. Azuri said...

In some cases, being friends after a relationship is the only choice - people hang out together and all that. I know that Amanda still remained friends with Neal after their relationship... but of course, it's awfully hard not to be friendly with Neal.

In some cases, people drift apart. I know my brief relationship with Shaun (which ended badly) and my brief relationship with Damon (which was great and ended without too much pain) ended up with me not really talking with them - but they had their own separate lives. I saw Damon last summer at a reenactment in Vergennes, and that was really cool.

In all honesty, I would have almost expected us to drift apart more than we have... the long silence, after all. And yet... we didn't. In our case, that must be some kind of minor miracle, but hey, I'm not complaining.