Volume Thirty-Six: Can We Be Friends?

Posted on 06/22/2010


In today’s times of extended dating periods, delayed engagements and child-bearing, the likelihood of “dating overlap” exists. I put the quotations around “dating overlap” to emphasize how politically correct my label is regarding “partner exchange” (there I go again) on the modern dating scene. I’m definitely noticing that the older I get, the smaller the world gets among my circle of friends and acquaintances. It is a rare occasion that I meet someone totally new nowadays. When accounting for a more homogenous group, the degrees of separation we share is far less than the six purported in that Will Smith movie. Why am I going through all this? I’ll tell you. The fact that we are taking longer to find a mate increases the number  of dating partners we have. Couple that with fewer degrees of separation, and you increase the likelihood of someone you once dated now dating someone you know. All that being said, one rhetorical question that is asked at the end of every relationship increases in magnitude because of the probability that you will see one another again. That question is, “Can We Be Friends?”

Friend Defined

Dictionary.com defines the word friend as a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. It goes on to state that a friend is a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile. LOL! Now, we all have fluctuating definitions and terminology when it comes to describing our “friends” (there go those quotations again). I mean, there is a definite difference between all of the people who I call friend. Side note: There is either a definite lacking in the English language or we are too cavalier with our use of the term. Anyway, when it comes to dating, that term has been used to define a myriad of complicated relationship entanglements. I’ve called women that I was currently seeing my friend, or women I used to date my friend. I’ve called women I’ve never dated my friend. This looseness of categorizing my female relationships gives new meaning to the question, “Can We Be Friends,” doesn’t it?

CAN You Be Friends?

The short answer is….Yes. But that is too easy. Relationships are not easy. If they were, there would not be the proliferation of relationship blogs, books, videos, etc. in the market. Being friends requires something that the definition fails to mention: Maturity. Are you mature enough to see your ex- with someone new? With someone you know? And, what if they don’t know that you two used to date? Do you tell them? Do you spare them that knowledge so you two can be “friends” without your new friend becoming suspicious? There are so many questions that come into play with this scenario that you can see why some people avoid it altogether and employ the military policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Being friends with someone requires maturity, respect, honesty, openness, transparency, clarity, insight, humility, and trust. Dictionary.com didn’t include any of these words in their definition; and, I suspect, we don’t include them in ours either.


In today’s world, dating overlap and partner exchange is bound to happen. How do we deal with that? Do we lie to ourselves and suggest “what they don’t know won’t hurt them?” I would suggest that that is the road to deception, insecurity, and infidelity. It’s human nature to feel some jealousy when we see an ex- with someone new – especially if it’s someone we know.When you see them happy, it only reminds you of the happy times you shared together. That’s where the maturity of knowing your truth kicks in. Acknowledging the feeling allows you to effectively overcome it. True friends are happy when their friend is happy. True friends respect their friend’s relationship and gives it the space it needs to flourish. True friends are more self-less than self-ish. So, when you are asking (or getting asked) that question, “Can we be friends,”; ask yourself, were we true friends in the first place? Therein lies your answer…

That’s just my three cents…


Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”