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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Can You Still Be Friends with an Ex in High School?

Dear Bro Jo,

So I'm a senior in high school, and I have never been very wise when it comes to the dating scene.

My parents aren't married and it's taking a little bit of searching on my own to figure out what appropriate dating is, and set my own standards, and that's come over time, after a few mistakes (meaning a couple of boyfriends I wish I wouldn't have had, as I have discovered it really does ruin friendships and cause unnecessary drama).

So last fall one of my best friends "Willow" finally broke things off with her off-and-on my-parents-don't-allow-me-to-have-a-boyfriend-so-we-aren't-official boyfriend of a year and a half.

All of our friends pretty much thought they were going to get married and it was a huge surprise when she started liking another boy, and he was crushed.

The thing is, her old boyfriend, "PJ", and I became really good friends over the course of the summer.

He confided in me a ton about Willow and about his other problems, and I trusted him with a lot about me as well.

We became best friends, but STRICTLY friends.

He had actually told me about a month prior that he would kiss me because he thought I was future wife material, but I brushed it off as a joke.

But that's the kind of friendship we had: I would tell him about the qualities that he had that would make him a great spouse and parent, and he would do the same for me.

It felt as if we were lifting each other up more than anything, and there was nothing romantic between us, ever.

So I was really thrown through a loop when he started flirting with me.

One day he was talking to another friend about a girl he wanted to ask to a dance.

I overheard and joined the conversation, because he told me everything! So why not this?

And he wouldn't tell me and said it didn't matter because it was too complicated anyway and somebody else wanted to ask her.

I was really bothered by this so I pestered him until I got it out of him. He finally told me it was me, and I was really confused because I found I really wanted him to ask me.

I told Willow I was afraid PJ liked me and she brushed it off saying it was fine.

She never told me not to pursue him so I guess I took that as a green light. I saw lots of pain along the way, which I regret, but I tried to be the best friend I could considering the situation.

I tried to balance my life between Willow and PJ, and I almost always put Willow first, and PJ knew that and supported me in that.

I was so twitterpated with PJ. I was living in bliss, falling for my best friend.

Things were great, until about three months later, when he showed signs of still caring about Willow.

I started fearing I was a rebound, and that I was a really good distraction when deep down he still just really liked Willow.

My fears were confirmed when on one fateful group date that just so happened to have all of us present there but with different dates, he told me to "make sure Willow has a good time."

The next day I confronted him about it and he told me that Willow didn't compare to me and gave a lot of other promises, but I couldn't believe him and broke up with him.

It was the hardest thing I've ever done, because I still liked him. I still do.

I was amazed at Willow's kindness, because she called me on the phone that night and cried with me.

I was truly grateful our friendship managed to survive, and if nothing good came from it all, our friendship is stronger. I know he still likes me, and in fact is having a really hard time.

I was his very best friend, and he doesn't really have anyone else to talk to. He is very shy and sensitive and I have heard through sources he doesn't feel comfortable when he is in the same room as me and Willow because he is afraid he is just causing both of us pain.

He practically runs out of the school doors or out of any social event. I wish that we had never become romantically involved because I really just want to be there for him.

And yet I still like him as well. And yet I know I deserve better.

He is going on a mission anyway, and we have both confirmed there is no way we are getting back together, but it is still really hard to have to be around each other every day and not know how to act. 

Is there any way of salvaging a friendship with PJ?

Can you even be friends with an ex?

What can we do to get over the emotional pain?

Can I help him in any way?

Can I do something to make things easier? For both of us?

Sincerely,

- I Don't Want My Life to be this Complicated




Dear Little Sister,

Okay . . . (sigh) so have you learned a little something about guys?

Frankly, if it wasn't for the fact that I get emails like yours all the time I would find it very difficult to believe that you were "really thrown through a loop when he started flirting" - I assure you that everyone else who knew how much time you two were spending together knew that was EXACTLY what was going to happen.

See, as I've written and said many, many times, Guys Can't Stay "Just Close Friends" with Girls.

Not only is it not in our nature, it's really not even a good idea.

To that end, any "friendship" you have with him is either going to be romantic at one point or slowly dissolve.

Sure, you can and should be nice to each other.

But best friends?

No.

Opposite sex best friendships are reserved for the people we marry.

Unless it's this guy, both you and PJ will someday need to find different best friends.

The pain only goes away with time.

And the best thing you can do to help him get over it is to leave him alone.

Stop re-opening the wound and confusing him by acting like everything can still be the same except the kissing . . . because it can't.

I agree that these types of complications are not a good idea in the teenage life . . . so, until you're ready to start looking for a husband, I recommend no more boyfriends.

Dates?

Yes.

Kissing?

If it's limited and appropriate.

But boyfriends?

No.

Stick to Casual Group Dating.

- Bro Jo

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