What do you do if you aren’t in love and you want to be friends? With Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com and Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com.
Cathy: One of our viewers wrote in and said, “I just broke up with my girlfriend. She said I think you’re making a big mistake. I just don’t like her as much as she likes me and I feel bad about it. We were together for a while and I kind of fell out of love with her. Now we’re trying to be friends but I don’t know if I’ll be able to feel comfortable around her knowing that she either resents me or still likes me more than I like her. It’s still very fresh and I’m trying to feel it out. What do I do?”
Reid: Who am I?
Cathy: Reid Mihalko from http://ReidAboutSex.com.
Reid: And this is Cathy Vartuli from http://TheIntimacyDojo.com. Okay, so do you want to speak first because I have thoughts?
Cathy: You have lots of thoughts?
Reid: I have thoughts on this.
Cathy: I think it is wonderful that you want to be friends and it can be hard. I’m sure you’ll share thoughts about that. Knowing that she has other support can be useful. Knowing that she’s not just looking to you for help, and sharing what you’re really feeling. If you want to be really friends rather than just acquaintances to make things smoother sharing that you are feeling uncomfortable that she likes you more … Or that you’re worried about her resentments and if you have the space too to listen to that might help ease some of that transition, because you’re not trying to hide it or pretend.
Reid: Are you ready?
Reid: Okay. That’s great advice but I have so many thoughts … I has all the thoughts. First off, when you’re getting into relationships have a practice break-up conversation. Like if you guys could go back in time at the beginning of your relationship have a conversation about what it would be like to break-up. This is actually a whole conversation about breaking up and how that actually happens or what happens to your body when you’ve been in love, and then you fall out of love. Then, trying to be friends after that; it’s not like it’s impossible but it’s a little bit tricky because no one talks about this stuff. So the chemistry … Now that we know more about the brain and just being geeks, sitting around being like, “What happens when you break up?” Now that we know more about what happens two things are really useful.
One, have a conversation with yourself, but also hopefully the people that you date about what is actually a relationship for. What are your intentions for having a relationship with anybody, period. What are you trying to get met or create. Then have a conversation with yourself and with other people, especially your friends, about what friendship is for. People don’t get clear about why they’re in friendship with people because most of us are kind of stuck or do friendships the way we did in fourth grade. “Oh my God I like you. Let’s be friends forever.” We’re not in fourth grade anymore.
Cathy: Thank God.
Reid: So if you don’t know the reasons why you’re in a relationship it can be really difficult to explain why you have to get out of a relationship. If you don’t know why you would be friends with somebody it can be really hard to be friends with somebody that you’ve just gotten out of a relationship with. There is no clarity and it is hard for people to create the clarity for you. If you are waiting for the other person to give you clarity about yourself that’s called therapy and you shouldn’t use your romantic relationships for therapy. Go hire a therapist. Let them give you clarity about who you are.
That being said, when you have clarity then what you’re dealing with break-up wise is the suckiness of what happens to your body when you break up and basically detox. Because we know now which is very interesting that the same centers of your brain that are active when you are in love are the exact same centers of the brain that are active when you’re addicted to cocaine.
There is a very fun TED talk by I forget her name; it might be Alison somebody … About this piece. When you are addicted to cocaine and then you break up with your dealer you go through withdrawals. They’re also going through withdrawals, so she is going through the break-up process and the detoxing herself. When we break up we basically become … You know our blood chemistry and brain activity is very obsessive-compulsive. You can find out more about that at a TED talk.
This all boils down to … I told you I had a lot of thoughts … If this is really fresh you guys probably cannot be friends right now. It is impossible because of what’s going on chemically in your body. You can be friends later most likely, but you have to go through this detoxification kind of process. I as a relationship coach basically tell people do not do anything with each other for at least six months. That’s a decent window. Everyone is like, “Oh my God, that’s so harsh,” and like “What if we share a dog?”
Cathy: Or a kid.
Reid: Yeah. It’s going to be really tough but the less connection you guys have doesn’t mean you don’t care about each other. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to be friends, but give each other the space so that you can create more clarity for yourself, get your wits about you, and also for them. Then start a friendship conversation six months from now. Some people can do it in three. Six is a much safer bet for both parties. That’s my advice.
Cathy: One thing that has helped me when someone’s liked me more than I’ve liked them is to remind myself that even though society often implies that it’s our fault if someone else likes us and then we have to take care of them around it, we really don’t. They get to have their liking or not liking and we get to say yes or no to what’s right for us. That may help relieve some of the stress around someone liking you more if you can realize that you’re not obligated to take care of that person. You’re obligated to be clear about where you’re at but you don’t have to take care of them. I think that’s where some of the discomfort comes. Reid’s suggestions about giving space if you can do that is really powerful.
Reid: We’ll shoot another video specifically on what to do when somebody likes you more than you like them, or vice versa. I think there’s a lot to say on that. We have all the thoughts.
Cathy: Lots of thoughts.
Reid: Okay. Leave your comments below. What advice do you have? How have you dealt with this situation in the past?
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