Non-Motherf***ing Ex Factor?

Confusion? Exactly.

One of the most common dating conversations that occurs revolves around whether or not men and women can ever truly be friends. While the answer to that is clearly debatable and largely depends on whether or not you believe in the butterfly effect (what?), the pendulum swings way harder towards “hell no” once you include the modifier, “friends with an ex.”

Apparently the likelihood of remaining friends with an ex is slim to none. Not to say that it can’t happen. I am good friends with an ex of mine and that relationship is purely platonic. I also know other people who have remained friends (platonically) with exes. It’s just not the norm and even my relationship with my ex took some time to get to that “we’re okay point” and I’m fairly certain that she lead the way there. We had a pretty horrendous breakup and both of us had to grow as people in order for us to get to the point we are now, but her reaching out and extending the olive branch that I would have likely been too afraid to extend myself cemented that friendship.

All of this came up at the recent Washington Post panel that was hosted by Rahiel Tesfamariam of Urban Cusp and I. We delved into a discussion about friendships with exes and I posited that most breakups didn’t end amicably and if a woman was maintaining a frienship with her ex soon after it was because she wanted the relationship to pick back up. If a dude was, it’s because he was still trying to hit.

What’s odd to me is that if you asked most people why it’s not likely to be friends with an ex, you rarely get good reasons. It always comes down to, “you just can’t” or some variation of that. People in relationships, both romantic and non-romantic, go through all types of non-sense. Hell, much of it is similar to the types of relationship ups and downs you go through. Granted, in a relationship you’re putting your whole heart on the line so the pain of disappointment is worse, but quite obviously, the great destroyer of future friendship is sex. Apparently, “sex changes everything.”

Hi. My name is Panama Jackson and I’m Captain Obvious.

But here’s the kicker…why does sex change everything? Yes, I realize that once you cross that threshold with somebody there’s no going back. And the only way you can maintain the pre-smang status quo is if you have two people who are ’bout that life who either have too much pride to be affected or are too new to the smang game to realize that they’re supposed to catch feelings.

So while beef and longterm personal disappointment can cause a relationship to crash and burn I don’t feel like that’s something that can’t be worked out and/or talked about at some point (not necessarily right away), but why does the addition of sex change all the stakes? Why is it that two people who have seen one another naked have such trouble overcoming the friendship hurdle post-breakup? And hell, would two people who hadn’t smanged be able to maintain a friendship? These things keep me up at night.

Of course, I do realize that some people just don’t like the person that they’ve ended the relationship with – which is likely the cause of the breakup. Some people can’t be friends for this reason, and others because crossing that romantic threshold either means that they have to get married or not speak to each other ever again. In my own personal dating history, I’m still really good friends with two exes (though I only actively keep up with one) and I have a few that I haven’t spoken to since we broke up for various reasons: personal safety (seriously), irreconcilable differences, mutual disdain, etc. But short of disdain, growth and maturity should make anything overcomeable (MLK did not die for me to butcher his rally cry….oh well), yet, I realize that at the end of the day, the likelihood of being friends with most exes just isn’t in the cards. (There’s also the more simple “I just don’t want to” reason which could probably take care of the entire argument as well).

So here’s my question: is it possible to be REAL friends with an ex? If so, how did you make that happen? If not, is it because sex changes everything…and why does sex change everything any way? VSB…what say you?

Talk to me.