Sexction: Staying chummy with your ex

At Brown, we hunt down good pot, fun parties and interesting reads. Many of us are also running around looking for love. Or, at least a good lay. If you’ve found it, then you know the drill. It’s great. You’re having good sex and maybe even some good cuddling, too (lucky you!). But, great as it may be, it eventually comes to an end. Like one of our esteemed faculty members has wisely pointed out, things fall apart.

So what happens when you break up with a partner at Brown? What are the rules? It’s a small campus. There’s a good chance that your ex and you share a friend group. And Ruth tells me that we are a community. So, no hard feelings, right? Why not stay friends with your ex? How hard can it be? 

Well, I can tell you that, in my experience, staying friends with my exes has been difficult. Really damn difficult.

The first time I fell in love, I fell hard. Max and I shared a comforter, a classroom, a group of friends, and many many meals together. Then we got into a funk. We loved each other but it had to end. We agreed on a clean break. And we would stay friends.

Ah yes, friends. It was a brilliant idea! After all, we still cared about each other. Sure, other couples had tried and failed but we were different. We were more mature and understood each other.

A few weeks into our friendship experiment, Max and I met up for lunch on Wickenden. The food was good and the conversation was polite. But it felt wrong. He seemed distant. He was being nice and all, but something was just missing. Why wasn’t he cuddling with me? Why wasn’t he telling me how beautiful I looked? In the middle of the meal, he received a text message. I panicked. Did he have a new girlfriend? I thought I had seen him with someone at Bagel Gourmet the other day… A few hours after our lunch, I found myself sobbing hysterically over cold falafel in the Ivy Room.

Please, do me a favor. Do not try to be friends with your ex. It rarely works. Worse, it can make you feel pretty crappy. And the ironic part is that you are simply perpetuating the bad feelings you tried to put a stop to when you ended things.

If you broke things off with someone, remember, it was for a reason. Perhaps that person annoyed you. Why do you want to be friends with an annoying person? Or maybe you broke it off because of the fights or the boredom. So why do you want to reproduce those ugly dynamics by staying friends?

Now, what if you were the one who got ditched? Still wrong. Every time you communicate with your ex, you’re missing an opportunity to tackle your heartbreak. An interaction with your ex is another moment dedicated to that person and not to spending time with your friends and trying to get better.

And every time you interact with your ex, something even worse happens; you’re reminded that it’s over. Maybe you think it’s better to get something than nothing. But continuing to see this person is a painful reminder that they haven’t changed their minds. They’re happy with their new life, the one in which you are no longer priority numero uno.

Now, that’s not to say that there’s no wiggle room. You may feel that you’re really over this person and that you’ll be just fine. If you’re set on it, try it. I can’t stop you. And neither can any of your friends. But if you’re wondering why we’re all voting against it, it’s because we’ve been there. And it sucks.

Have a question for Heather HotPants? Email her at

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  1. Heather Hotpants Fan

    Dear Heather Hotpants,

    I completely agree with your point about moving on and not staying friends with your ex. It is a lesson most people find difficult to follow after a breakup. The best way to forget about the person is to not see him/her. BUT, what do you do when that person is in your close group of friends and part of your social scene?

  2. Dear Heather Hot Pants,
    Thank you for keeping it real. The only way to get over someone is to maintain distance, and DO YOU. The breakup is over! The mourning is done! Use the space and time as a learning opportunity. What did the relationship reveal about yourself and your needs? This reflection might just make it so that the next partner meets them more adequately.
    Also, do you take requests? I have hella questions that need answers, and you seem to be my girl.
    Mad 314 love,
    Sultry in St. Louis

  3. Heather HotPants

    @ Sultry in St. Louis.
    I certainly do take requests! They give me great ideas for my next column. Email me at or leave me a comment here.

  4. Heather HotPants

    @ Heather HotPants fan.
    Hi there, sexy. That’s a great question. Ouch! Ex is in your best friend group. Now that’s very tricky territory. I will certainly answer this question in an upcoming column. Stay tuned for more!

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