Ghosted: The Misery Of Dealing With An Ex Love Who Turns Into A Total Stranger

by Mary Rebecca Harakas

When it comes to dating your best friend, I've heard mixed advice. You wonder what your friends will think; you consider if it could be strange, and especially, if the two of you break up, will it change the course of your friendship?

Most likely, you'll never find the answer to these things unless you give the relationship a chance to grow into romance.

Every relationship is different; in mine, we started off as friends, developed a relationship, and then ended up as two complete strangers. Why did this happen? Personalities played a role, as did our personal goals, backgrounds and values.

When we broke up, I was torn apart by the memories I had of our good friendship. He was my first guy friend in college and was in practically every college memory during my first three years of school. Now, those adventures are only distant memories.

Since our breakup, I've learned a few things about how to deal with a person who was once so close to you and is now a complete stranger:

Accept that people outgrow each other.

Whether it is friendships or relationships, people can outgrow each other from personality differences, differences in values or differences in goals and dreams. In retrospect, my relationship ended because we outgrew each other and couldn't see it at the time.

Even if we weren't dating and were just friends, it's likely we would have also outgrown each other as friends. Your college years are a short period to grow up, realize your passions, cultivate your dreams and learn about yourself all at once.

Who you are now is not who you were four years ago, or even one year ago. Growing is natural, as well as outgrowing relationships.

Don't force cultivating a once-friendship if the other won't reciprocate.

For about a year after the breakup, I tried to reach out occasionally via text, say hello to him at bars and even stop by his fraternity tailgates to see him and his brothers. However, every time we exchanged hellos, it was cold, forced and meaningless.

I realized that I hoped a friendship with him would enhance my pursuit to happiness, but in reality, it just hindered it. I invested so much energy in chasing a friendship that wasn't meant to happen.

As the advice goes, never chase a man, but don't chase a friendship, either. People come and go, and those who are meant to be part of your pursuit of happiness will stay.

Forgive him and yourself.

As much as you may blame him for his actions or his fault in the relationship, remember every breakup has two sides. As much as you hate to admit it, you have faults, too. He may have hurt you, but you've probably hurt him in some way as well.

Forgiveness is a virtue that few people know how to do because they often think that forgiving someone implies accepting his or her hurtful actions. In reality, forgiving someone is a relief, a sign of maturity and a symbol of a decent and compassionate human being.

Forgive yourself first, and then forgive your ex. A decent person knows when he or she has hurt someone, and though it may not be obvious, that person is also hurt.

A man won't explicitly state how he feels because it is often a stab at his ego; actions speak louder than words. Forgive your ex, even though you may feel he or she deserves it the least.

Let go.

You can go through the typical break-up tactics to move on, like deleting his or her contact information, purposely hanging out at different bars and avoiding his or her friends. This may turn your attention from your ex, but it won't delete your memories. Let go of frustration, anger and negativity towards him or her.

It is not worth bottling up the emotions brought on by a breakup; holding onto an old relationship prevents good things from entering your life. Understand that all things have a purpose, and as much as we try to control every detail of our relationships and friendships, some things just aren't meant to be.

Cherish your relationships while they last, and let go when it is time to move on. Once you come to terms with this reality of life, you'll be well on your way to happiness.

Photo via We Heart It