Breakups can be messy. In fact, I don’t think that there is such a thing as a good breakup. Between heartbreak, reclaiming old gifts, and adjusting to sleeping alone, it’s a draining process that you want over as soon as possible.
In some cases, in the event of a breakup, associated parties tend to suffer collateral damage, or what some would like to call: breakup by association.
Are you obligated to end all communication with your best friend’s ex, even if you have a healthy friendship with them?
The standard on this — from the various circles I’ve encountered in life — is that you are supposed to maintain loyalty to who you met first. So in the case of your best friend and their ex-significant other, you’re expected to conduct yourself according to the feelings of the former.
Personally, I believe the issue is more complex than that. Loyalty is certainly important, but genuine friendship is far too rare to carelessly cast aside. And while sympathy for one’s emotional state should be taken to heart, understanding that just because an interaction with someone didn’t work one way, doesn’t mean it won’t work another.
People can be different things to us, and maturity is understanding this.
To Be Loyal
How do you not heed your best guy’s words when he says he’s done with his girl? He introduced you to her after all, not to mention it’ll look suspicious if you two maintained a relationship after the breakup.
These are the issues you avoid when you decided to be loyal.
Just put yourself in the shoes of your friend.
Imagine leaving a toxic relationship or even a relationship that’s run its course, you’re ready to move on, and you can’t: because every other word that comes out of your friend’s mouth is in reference to a life you’re trying to put behind you.
Sometimes it just comes down to respect. As close as a friend you may be, you’re still a third party observer. You may never know the intricate details of the break-up or how it affected your friend emotionally.
Being a good friend is understanding the sensitivity of their breakup and honoring that to your best ability. Even if only for a little while, giving that respect goes a long way.
To Not Be Loyal
On one hand, you can cut off all communication and enlist in the Cold War your buddy is trying to draft you in. Or — and after a respectful amount of time, of course — you could continue your friendship as if nothing happened at all.
I think friendships are far too special to be lost in the crossfires of a romance that had a low survival rate in the first place.
When you make a genuine connection — which doesn’t necessarily have to be a lustful one — it’s a gift.
We encounter and have to entertain so many people in our lives that we don’t connect with on the day to day basis, simply for the sake of getting along, that it would be a shame to discard an authentic connection over something so trivial.
If you respectfully give your friend’s old flame space, then resume your friendship in a respectful manner, it would be tough indicting you.
Denying someone access to another is not only possessive but petty. If you trust someone enough as your close friend, you should trust their judgment in making a bond with someone you once thought was special.
With that being said, there are exceptions to every rule. Every case must be weighed individually and different variables are taken into account.
If Your Best Friend Was Cheated On
Whether it’s cheating, domestic violence, or even verbal abuse, there is absolutely no continuing of friendship with a friend’s ex if any of these events take place.
In these types of circumstances, it’s not only your duty to cease all forms of communication with your friend’s ex-lover, but you should be vigilant in ensuring that your friend doesn’t go back to that relationship.
Sometimes we have to be the rock that our friends can’t be. And at times, that means telling them they’re better than their current abusive or emotionally draining partnership.
Maintaining a friendship with someone who would put another human through anything remotely close to mistreatment is an obvious no-no.
If Your Best Friend Did The Cheating
If your very good friend was cheating throughout a relationship and you did not know, then maybe there is a case for you to maintain your friendship with the ex.
A lot of times people close to us can do things we do not agree with, furthermore, it’s tough minding someone’s business that doesn’t want you in it.
However, if you not only knew, but were even in cahoots with your friend, devising ways for them to cheat on their significant other, then you’ve disqualified yourself from being friends with their ex indefinitely.
Dishonesty begets dishonesty. And if you did not respect whomever enough to interfere with the abuse of their emotions, what are your motives to being their friend, really?
So is breakup by association a thing? In short, yes.
You always want to be respectful and sensitive to a friend’s emotions after a breakup. But once you’ve given it space, it would be unfair to discontinue your friendship with their ex, especially if the friendship was true.
The biggest misconception and fear is that the friend will get with the ex, but that’s not always the case.
Don’t let a grudge come between what could be a lasting friendship.