Part I of this article, I discussed the challenges with starting a romantic relationship with a good friend. The question now is what happens when two friends pursue a relationship, but it does not work out? Do you remain friends or do you part ways? This topic is very important because large portions of the emails I receive and in-person discussions I have with people are about this topic.
The Reality of the Break-Up
As we discussed in part I, when two friends cross the friendship/relationship line, the nature of the friendship is compromised. Compromising a friendship to start a relationship is not a bad thing unless the relationship does not work out. The reality is that when a relationship goes bad, the friendship usually goes bad with it. I have seen this scenario play out many times and when people vent to me about this situation, they always state that they wished they could have saved their friendship.
The reason it is so hard for most people to save a friendship after breaking up is because there is no way to separate friendship emotions from relationship emotions. Here’s why. At the start of a relationship with a friend, subconsciously both people agree to place their friendship emotions into a pot with their newly found relationship emotions and stir them up to create a new set of feelings for each other. Once a relationship goes bad, the relationship emotions turn sour and since they are mixed with the friendship emotions, the whole pot of emotions are no longer any good. This would be like mixing a batch of rotten eggs in cake batter. Although the other ingredients would be healthy and fresh, the eggs would spoil the cake batter making it inedible and there would be no way to take the eggs out of the batter to make it good again.
I will not say that it is impossible to have a friendship after breaking up, but I can say that the odds of a friendship being the same as it was before the relationship would be improbable. My advice to anyone who wants to try to maintain a friendship would be to take some time away from the person and focus on rebuilding yourself so that you can truly function without being upset with your ex. Time after time, I see people working on rebuilding a friendship from the surface level, but deep within they are furious with their ex. Having fake emotions could cause torture to these individuals because they would have to hide their true feelings to try to rebuild a friendship that they wished was a relationship.