My ex broke up with me about a month ago and completely shattered my heart. But I’ve decided — since we still have class together and are in several of the same clubs and I still like him as a human being — that I should try to be friends with him. Every time I smile and say hello, he looks like he wants to cry or he’s mad he has to acknowledge my presence; he can’t vocally say “hello” back. But he acts like we’re still best friends, texting and sending me Snapchats. He goes out of his way to be in places he knows I’ll be. I’m confused by this hot and cold thing; he’s the one who broke up with me. Should I keep trying to be his friend when it makes me feel horrible?
Stumped by Snapchat
Dear Stumped by Snapchat,
First off, I’m sorry to hear about your breakup. I’m going through a relatively recent breakup too, so I feel your pain. Like driving in a car and yelling obscenities at passing drivers or anonymously trolling online, it’s a lot easier to hide behind the veil of technology than to acknowledge someone in person. It sounds like your ex is confused. Most likely, he misses the friendship portion of your relationship, which is the hardest part to walk away from — the constant companionship, the person to whom you complain about Peirce’s “locally sourced” pizza bagels. So he’s trying to hit you up via text or Snap to get back the part he misses, the part of the relationship he didn’t want to lose.
But when it comes to actually talking in person, it’s too much. And I get that. But if you don’t want to feel like crap when he throws you around, you need to walk away. No matter how hard it is to leave someone behind, you need to realize that he’s the one who left you. If he valued your friendship, he would have stayed; he would have tried to fix things. But he didn’t. And now you’re here. You didn’t have agency in the breakup, but you do now. Make the choice to cut crap out of your life, and if that means cutting out him attempting to be “friends” while avoiding you in person, so be it. You deserve a hell of a lot more than someone ghosting you in the servery, then texting you later that night about your lab assignment.
I’m a person who thinks you can’t be friends with your exes. Not if you really loved them. Because no matter what you try to say or do, nothing will ever be the same, even if you were friends before. Everything has changed. So walk away. If all he adds to your life now is stress, it isn’t worth it. Someday you’ll just be eating a bagel in Wiggin Street and you’ll look up and someone else will be standing there, asking if they can use the outlet. And you know what? They damn well can. But your ex can’t.
Emily Sakamoto ’16 is an English major with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in messing with other people’s personal lives — whether they ask for advice or not — from North Oaks, Minn. Contact or send a query to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.