"Can we go back the way we used to be?" a line often recited in movies. Two strangers who have shared a lot of parts of their life with the other can only end up being strangers again. When you call a relationship quits for whatever reason there is, many people believe that it can't go back the same way it used to be anymore. Awkward and uncomfortable tension may surface when the two are paired together again. It's fascinating because it wasn't like that before; there used to be no space remaining between them, yet, people eventually grew apart.
It's reasonable that lovers can turn into strangers again, or even enemies. On the other hand, people had also ended up being friends with their ex, which includes me. To give this statement a review, I asked my friends (and my ex, Rifqi) about their opinion on befriending exes.
Rifqi and I went way back in high school. Yes, we were silly teenage lovers who were trying to figure out how romance works between two people. And after 9 months of dating, I called it quits. We graduated, and I never heard of him until one fine day in April 2016 where the sequel of "Ada Apa Dengan Cinta" made its way to theaters. My friend wanted to watch it, but he also asked Rifqi to go out with us.
"Honestly, I panicked when I knew we were going to watch AADC together. Ogi (a friend of ours) was so persistent in making me go, too," he exclaims through our short phone call. Before this interview, I never knew what he felt that day since I never really asked him either. For me, it was only like meeting an old friend I had already forgotten our history so I didn't have specific thoughts in mind. The irony of it all, we were watching a movie about two lovers who reunited and rekindled old flames that had not yet been settled.
"In between the movie, I was worried that I might be flustered in front of you, you know, not knowing how to act and all." he chuckled. He further explained that he felt more relaxed upon finding out casual conversation with me was indeed possible. Thus, our next hang-out sessions were carried out in no awkward tension. Ever since that, we share a meal now and then, even if it's just with the two of us.
In the beginning, Rifqi got teased frequently by his friends for hanging out with his exes. But it all passes by. "Whenever my ex tags along in our group of friends, I just take it lightly, you know, enjoy the moment. It was embarrassing when my friends kept teasing us but I got used to it. Eventually, it becomes something worth reminiscing and worth laughing at." he chuckled. "Really, it's all about just getting yourself used to it."
I asked Rifqi's point of view about our process of being friends again. According to him, the process of shifting a romantic relationship into a friendly one depends on the dynamics of the relationship and the period of it. The longer the relationship is, the harder it is to put things back in the past. "Well, I'm not the type of person who cuts all ties with a person when we break up we'll meet up sooner or later, planned out or uncoincidentally, right?" he explains. "I just don't see why a relationship needs to end in bad blood, especially when it started beautifully." From this statement, Rifqi told me he doesn't see me or any other of his exes as someone he needs to be resentful of. With a cheesy laugh, he even told me there's no way he would feel the same things towards me again.
This is similar to what my friend, Avi, had to say about befriending her exes. Surprisingly, she found out the more she hangs out with her ex, the more she realizes why the relationship will never work out. "At first, it was hard adapting to how my days can go out without him, and to do that, I didn't want to meet him in person so I could peacefully move on." She further told me she needed to eliminate the person from her life so that she can forget the precious moments they have shared. "It lasted for a year. But now, we're on good terms," she explains.
What once started as a lovely connection could end up damaging the relationship between two people when they end things their way. Whether it is a good or a bad breakup, we all need time to take a quick break to figure out the big picture which is sometimes expressed in reflection onto the relationship along with the problems that came in the way. Both Avi and Rifqi said it wasn't an easy process. "I think readjustment is what people need getting yourself used to accept how your ex is someone you've encountered romantically in your life," Rifqi states. "Most people think cruelly of their ex because they haven't come to terms on how things ended up," he adds.
Indeed, shifting a romantic relationship into a friendly one doesn't happen in one day. You can't expect people to magically erase the romantic memories they have shared with their past lover. However, once you overcome this phase in your healing process, you will find it easy to forgive and step forwards.
I successfully enrolled in a friendly relationship with my ex. In my opinion, just because I once had developed lovely feelings towards them, doesn't mean it will last forever. In the end, it's your call to decide the value of a person. But, keep in mind that a broken romantic relationship can bloom into a precious friendly one.