One of the hardest parts of the breakup is the returning of assets.
You and your ex search your homes for items to begrudgingly return to each other in an effort to remove yourself from his or her past.
And while digging through drawers to find your ex’s belongings, there’s one thing you won’t find that the two of you are likely to argue about: who gets the friends in the breakup?
There’s a strange thing that happens when you become friends with someone — you claim ownership of the person.
When you introduce him or her to someone, you say “I’d like you to meet MY friend,” not “a friend,” and when “a friend” is used, it’s usually in the phrase “I’d like you to meet a friend of mine.”
Consciously or unconsciously, we feel the need to stake claim to our friends when introducing them to someone, and this extends to introductions to a significant other.
It’s almost as if the introduction serves as a way of sharing your friend with him or her, and it’s being done with the understanding that you’re sharing, not giving.
So when the moment comes that you break up with your significant other, it should be understood that you would like your friend returned to you, and that request should be honored.
Unless the breakup ends remarkably smoothly, it’s too awkward for the person to be engaged in friendships with both of you.
Instead of forcing the person in the middle to make an uncomfortable decision, there’s a simple, unspoken rule that should be followed.
Return your friends to their rightful owners.
From a woman’s perspective, there is one major factor of social etiquette that holds precedent in this argument — the girl code.
When I break up with a boyfriend, I think it’s reasonable to expect my girlfriends to follow suit. They might have liked my boyfriend plenty, but the only reason they know him is through me, and I expect them to be on my side after the breakup. Besides a quick nod to be polite when passing on the street, my friends should not try to continue a friendship with my ex.
That is common girl law, and that’s what real friends do.
I actually ran into a problem with this earlier this year. My ex was so angry with me for ending the relationship, he made sure to schedule a nice lunch date with my roommates the next day. During the meal, he decided to get his revenge by telling them I thought they were stupid, annoying and worst of all — fat.
There are so many things wrong with that situation — not only his vengeance, but also their acceptance to that lunch date.
That’s why girl code was invented, ladies — learn it and live it.
To avoid the conflict I encountered earlier this year, it’s important to understand who gets who in a breakup. Should my ex have targeted my friends like that? No, he should have left them alone. And when his friend, who I had grown to know and love throughout the relationship, avoided eye contact with me in the cafeteria a few weeks later, although disheartened, I applauded him for doing the right thing.
If you continue a friendship with a friend’s ex, that could lead to something more, and that’s a whole new can of worms I’m hoping you’re too smart to open.
However, if you and an ex share a mutual friend, it’s acceptable to share the friend, as long as you’re not super public and annoying about it.
For instance, if I had a guy friend that my ex was friends with as well, I would not be posting obnoxious inside jokes all over his Facebook such as, “Remember that guy who came up to me and asked me out yesterday? That was so funny. And remember what he said? I’ll never forget that, bubble buddies for life!”
Annoying. You can share a friend, just be mature about it.
Otherwise, if they were his friends first, don’t break the code and just let them go. They’re his friends, and after making the mistake of losing you, he needs something to hold on to.