I’m not saying it’s not possible to be friends with your ex. I’m friends with at least one of my exes – the one who didn’t act like a total handjob when we were together, or turn into a humpmonkey and try to finagle breakup humping, or treat me like a ho after the relationship ended. Exes, if you’re reading this, I’ll leave you all to squabble amongst yourselves RE: which one of you I’m talking about.
But seriously though, I’m pretty sure nobody actually expects you to really stay friends with your ex. I mean real friends. The kind of friends who celebrate each other’s birthdays, go to each other’s cookouts, send each other Christmas cards, attend each other’s weddings, have beers together – you know, see each other regularly, bond platonically, and continue to be an important part of each others’ lives. That hardly ever happens and no one expects it. After all, the only reason you were hanging around together in the first place was to bump uglies, and now that you're not bumping uglies any longer, continuing to hang around together can range from unproductive to downright harmful. When we say we’ve stayed friends with our ex, what we’re really saying is, “I have little to no desire to pry this person’s eyeballs out with an icepick and fill their cranium with live bees,” or, alternatively, “I would love nothing more than to pry this person’s eyeballs out with an icepick and fill their cranium with live bees, but I have enough character to pretend otherwise.”
Or, if we’re the one who was dumped, it might mean, “I’m not very happy that the hobofucker1 dumped me, but I’m clinging to the hope that he (or she) will feel obliged to make conversation when we next cross paths.”
Or, in some circumstances, “We have some crazy-ass rollercoaster of an on-again, off-again relationship, and we’ll be back together again by next weekend, so don’t clear your schedule.”
If you know even one of the people involved, you can usually tell which one it is.
1 I realize this is offensive to hobos. Hobos, if you're reading this, I'm sorry.↩