Can we be friends?
December 30, 2014 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Can I/should I ask someone I was casually dating (who recently ended things) to be friends?

I've recently begun embarking on dating after my split from my ex-husband and subsequent divorce. I've been on OkC and not having as much luck as I'd hoped, and am also trying to make more friends as I don't have many where I currently live.

About a month ago, I started dating someone who had also just ended a long relationship -- we hit it off great, enjoyed spending time together and texting, but he was pretty upfront about not wanting anything serious, which I was ok with. We went out a few times a week, with the exception of one week he was out of town, I met some of his friends (he didn't meet mine). We fooled around a bit, but we did not have sex.

Last week, he abruptly ended things without much warning, apologetically saying he met someone else. I was bummed because we had been having a good time, and a little confused by the suddenness, but after processing for a few days I realized I was mostly bummed because he was really smart, funny, and fun to be around separate from any of the physical stuff. When we first went out, I liked him, but was 50/50 on whether it was just as friends.

So my question is, would it be a terrible idea for me to text him and offer up a friendship? I don't think I'll have an issue just being friends as we didn't date that long, but I'm not sure if that is no no considering he was the one who ended things, and if it will make me seem like I'm desperate and trying to get back together (which doesn't make sense as we weren't really together in the first place).

This is my first experience dating and I have friends who have become good friends with someone they dated, I'm just not sure what the etiquette is.
posted by hrj to Human Relations (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would give him some time, and then ask the couple out to do something in a bit (another month or two) to go along to some group thing, maybe.
posted by xingcat at 10:26 AM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm going to say no. If he wanted to remain friends, he would have suggested it himself.

Go out, join clubs, take classes. But I don't think this is a good friendship prospect.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:37 AM on December 30, 2014

I agree with previous answers- in a little while, you could ask him to do some group/friend thing with you, and maybe he'll come and maybe he won't. I don't see anything coming from asking him generally if he wants to be friends- what does that even mean? He'd probably wonder what exactly you were looking for.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:42 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

If I dumped a woman I was dating, and she got back in contact with me and asked if we could still be friends, I would say no. If I don't enjoy your company enough to date you, why would I want to be your friend?
posted by starbreaker at 11:06 AM on December 30, 2014

I once attempted a friendship with a person I had been dating in a casual, short-term way. It was awkward and didn't last, I think because we didn't really know each other outside of a romantic context. There was no foundation, no shared history, no shared social circle to support a friendship. And I suspect they suspected I was trying to get back together--even though I wasn't! I swear!

So I vote no on this, unless life circumstances somehow put you together in a different context (and you're romantically involved with someone else by that point).
posted by magdalemon at 11:07 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sure you can ask. I'd wait a bit. You need to be super clear that you're not looking to get back together, and you also have to prepare yourself for him not wanting to hang out. But you really have nothing to lose by asking, right?
posted by radioamy at 11:08 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sure be friends. Why not? There aren't any rules to who you can and can't be friends with. It might take some time to get over the awkwardness. And sometimes offering 'friendship' is kinda awkward for some people. But if he is into it why not?
posted by ian1977 at 11:18 AM on December 30, 2014

I think you've got nothing to lose by texting him something along these lines

"Good luck with your new relationship! You know, it was something of a relief to me that you ended things because I realized I had come to like you much more as a friend than anything else. It would be great if you feel that way too and if you'd like to hang out sometime, completely platonically, you've got my number. Otherwise, best of luck with everything"

But be prepared that he may, indeed, think you want something more....
posted by JenThePro at 11:21 AM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]

Do you already have a passive connection set up (Twitter and/or Facebook usually)? That's worked for me; you still have a bit of a window into their life, can have a bit of interaction, and then maybe invite them along to stuff as part of a group, but it's way less fraught than saying 'let's be friends!' and then not knowing quite how to be friends.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 11:23 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can do something completely non-aggressive, like emailing him a link on a story he'd be interested in, with a note "Not trying to intrude, but thought you might like this link. Wish you the best with your partner; you're a nice person and I enjoyed the company."

IF he replies, you might send another in a week... enough time that it doesn't look like you're baiting hooks for him.

Generally, a cooling off time is needed, to make sure your intentions are clear to both of you.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:49 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would be skeeved out by a recent ex wishing me well on my current relationship, especially if I dumped that ex. I'd also be a smidge concerned at my partner forming a friendship with an ex, were I in that situation.

I would wait several weeks before attempting contact. Go no contact for a while and see how you feel in a few weeks. It's not so long to wait if it's something that you really want. This all went down last week, making any contact right now very sudden.

Maybe if you find yourself a new partner, the 4 of you could hang out some time.
posted by Solomon at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2014

" If I don't enjoy your company enough to date you, why would I want to be your friend?"

Dating isn't just about the company (though that should be a large part of it). It's entirely possible that the longer the relationship went on the more the guy realized that he wasn't into her physically. I have had relationships where it was clear the romance wouldn't work but I would have been more than happy to remain friends, had they wanted to.
posted by komara at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2014

I have been in this exact situation a number of times and I now have two good male friends that I met through online dating. After we stopped dating, there was radio silence for a while (a month or so?) before one of us sent the other a short, light email about some thing or other. If the other responded, it led to friendly conversations and, well, friendship.

BUT! Not every person can do that. Many people cannot be friends with others of the opposite sex, or their partners won't let them be. Communicate in little steps and see what comes from them.

If I don't enjoy your company enough to date you [interpretation: have physical relationship], why would I want to be your friend?

This is an excellent filter. Let it guide toward the ones who are worth your friendship.
posted by Kerasia at 2:45 PM on December 30, 2014

Kerasia: f I don't enjoy your company enough to date you [interpretation: have physical relationship], why would I want to be your friend?

This is an excellent filter. Let it guide toward the ones who are worth your friendship.
This is what bugs me most about people who are not friends with any of their exes. You once liked them enough to swap really gross bodily fluids, but now they aren't the kind of person you want to hang around? That says a lot more about you than them.

(Full disclosure: I've got exes I would slug a friend cold, rather than let him make that mistake, but many are friends. I've been pretty self-loathing at times in my life, and it showed in my choices.)
posted by IAmBroom at 5:24 PM on December 31, 2014

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