Should you remain friends with your ex's friends?

(PHOTO: Getty Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images) (Mint Images RF via Getty Images)

Welcome to A Millennial's Dating Diary series, where we explore real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series will feature the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.

When you’re in a relationship, your partner’s friends become your friends too. When the relationship ends, though, it’s unclear if those friends remain your friends. The truth is, it’s almost always complicated.

After a relatively difficult breakup from my ex *Jack, I woke up to find that he and five of his friends had stopped following me on Instagram. It wasn’t like I was hard up for followers, but I knew what was up when I noticed the dip.

I immediately texted him to ask him about it. He admitted to telling his friends to unfollow and block me, which didn’t quite make sense to me. From my point of view, the relationship was between us, and putting boundaries on who your friends can and cannot follow and continue to be friends with both online and offline is infantile at best.

Unfollow to Follow on social networking site
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Perhaps he felt it was weird if his friends were in the know of what I was up to but, I’ve always felt like my friends could make decisions for themselves, and if they felt like unfollowing any of my exes, it’s their decision to do so.

What was hurtful — and perhaps my mistake as well — was that I had put in the work to get to know all of Jack’s friends because he stressed how important it was for them to like me and how great it’ll be if we could all do things together.

Till today, my best friend *Natalie continues to follow both my exes, and occasionally speaks to one of my exes because they share similar interests. In my books, that’s fine. I trust Natalie, and frankly, unless they’re hitting on my friends out of spite, I’m much too occupied to care who my exes are talking to.

After Jack and I ended things, I continued being friends with one of his friends. Unlike Jack’s five other friends, I had developed a much deeper connection with *Christine, 31, so our friendship continued naturally.

Making friends with your partner’s friends always comes with a level of risk, and sometimes I wonder if it’s one worth taking.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking if being friends with the friends you made while in a relationship makes sense.

While I’m not thinking of ending my friendship with Christine, I sometimes feel like I need to censor myself if we’re ever discussing our exes.

Interestingly enough, Jack has started asking about me and occasionally looks at my Instagram stories as well. So, unfortunately, I don’t feel like I could actually discuss this with Christine the way I would with Natalie.

Out of respect for Christine and her friendship with Jack, it might seem like I’m bad-mouthing her friend, and I wouldn’t want to put her in an uncomfortable position like that.

Since being with *Mark, my current partner, I’ve met and become friends with some of his friends. In my mind’s eye, though, I’m aware these friendships I’ve cultivated are contingent upon my relationship with him. So if things were to end between us, I’m pretty certain my relationship with these people I’ve come to be friends with will, too, come to an end. The same way my friends, too, will stop becoming as close to Mark.

A young woman is sitting down for refreshments in a bright cafe, smiling and chatting with her friends.
(PHOTO: Getty Images) (Tom Werner via Getty Images)

To counter this, I’ve recently brought this up with two of Mark’s female friends that I became closer to.

“Girls, I just wanted to say that if Mark and I ever break up, I won’t be offended if you guys decide you didn’t want to speak to me anymore,” I texted them.

Both girls immediately called me crazy, and assured me that our friendship isn’t entirely based on my relationship with Mark.

While it’s sad to think about it ever happening, I’m also aware that losing friends you make in a relationship is just a fact of life.

Making friends with your partner’s friends always comes with a level of risk, and sometimes I wonder if it’s one worth taking. I’d hate to feel like I needed to pick sides in my own friend groups if I became friends with one of my friend’s exes.

I’ve been fortunate enough that my breakup hasn’t really impacted my friendship with Christine with Jack, and I hope it stays that way.

* Names have been changed to protect identity.