My girlfriend and I broke up about six months ago, and haven’t really seen each other since. Recently, I’ve started hanging out more with someone we met as a couple…and my ex freaked. She sent me Facebook messages to “stay away from her friends,” and asked this mutual friend to cut me off (I know because the friend told me). I don’t see what the big deal is—even if my ex knew this person first, am I really supposed to avoid anyone she’s “claimed?” Is it fair for her to expect our mutual friends to drop me? I live in JP, so do most of these friends, and it’s already become clear that I’m GOING to see a lot of them around. Besides, my social circle isn’t so large that I want to halve it every time a relationship ends…

-Can’t we ALL just be friends?

Do you want my answer if you’re in middle school, or my answer for full-fledged grownups?

I ask because the idea that you have to “take sides” after a breakup is something the grownups (though apparently not your girlfriend) grow out of.

Yes, some people will wind up naturally falling into one person’s possession-pile after a split; if you hung out a lot with your ex’s college roommate, for example, it would be kinda strange if the two of you were suddenly besties post-breakup. Very-close friendships that were always primarily one-sided will probably wind up staying that way.

But not because someone dictates that they have to.

It’s one thing to naturally stop seeing much of a former friend when the primary reason you saw her in the first place has been eliminated. And if you and the fictional college roommate started hanging out regularly, your ex would have a legitimate reason to bring up the question of why with the roommate. But it’s childish to demand that a friend you both shared pick sides and avoid the other person at all costs. If friendship worked that way, no one would know anyone by the end of their 20s.

So what do you do? Ignore it. You have the luxury of not having to please your ex anymore (and the ability to change your facebook settings if she doesn’t back off). The friend in question is in a more uncomfortable situation, since she’s getting actively pressured by your ex, but since she already let you know this was happening, it’s a fair assumption that you won’t just be cut off with no warning.

In fact, given the maturity level your ex is showing right now, it’s quite possible you’ll “win” this friend by default. Try not to gloat.


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