The Unlikely New Friendship That Can Help You Heal From A Breakup

Breakups are tough. On top of the emotional fallout from losing your "person," you are also experiencing the grief of realizing your shared future is no more. Whether they were your boyfriend, your partner, or you were married, breakups are never easy and an excellent excuse to lean on your friends and loved ones for support. But what if — and hear us out on this — you leaned on an unlikely person for support; someone who also knew your ex in a romantic sense? Yes, we're talking about your ex's ex. Have you ever considered befriending the person who knows everything that you're going through and can commiserate in a way no one else can?

Being a close ally to your partner's ex isn't exactly a new concept. "I Kissed A Girl" singer Katy Perry is famously BFFs with her partner Orlando Bloom's ex, Miranda Kerr, per Us Weekly. They even hosted an Instagram Live together! Getting into pop culture, we've seen major movies where a trio of jilted women teams up to make the man who wronged them pay — 1987's "The Witches of Eastwick" starring the iconic Cher, and 2014's "The Other Woman" starring Cameron Diaz. Even Brandy and Monica were able to put their rivalry for the same boy aside to help each other at the end of their 1998 "The Boy is Mine" music video. 

So is your ex's ex the new bestie that can help you navigate your breakup grief? 

In times of stress, we end up befriending unlikely people

Let's be honest, ladies. Even considering meeting your partner's ex can result in feelings of insecurity, jealousy, envy, or suspicion. But should those feelings about the dreaded ex still exist once you and your partner break up? Forbes reports that women are "socialized" to see each other as competition in the race for male attention (thanks for that, patriarchy!), but some experts believe that women are also socialized to deal with stress by gossiping with one another.

The chair of the Department of Counseling at Northern Illinois University, Suzanne Degges-White, told Elle that "gossip is a survival mechanism where we're sharing information that's important to know ... Gossip was designed to communicate social norms. It's telling us what not to do, and it helps us know how to respond to a person who broke those social norms."

In those moments, Degges-White says people might "befriend people we might not normally be friends with" in order to cope. This, she says, explains why we might turn to our ex's ex for support, to gossip about our shared experience with the heartbreaker, and even to forge a new relationship going forward that doesn't include him.

Your ex's ex can help you find closure

There's a big debate on whether or not you should befriend your ex's ex — heck, there's a whole Quora sub-thread on the topic! The debate reveals there's something your ex's ex can provide during your journey through breakup grief that no one else in your inner circle can: The conclusive proof that you are not insane. Think about all the times your ex gaslighted you and said you were too emotional or overreacting.

How about all those times they swore they had deleted all of those dating apps, but you saw their notifications pop up on their phone? Perhaps you believed the excuses, or maybe you just really wanted to believe them as a person. In any case, your ex's ex, in all likelihood, experienced the same thing. They, and only they, can remind you that your instincts were correct all along because their experience was identical. 

Psychology teacher Amanda Wheal told Marie Clare UK, "Usually when people hold onto a relationship, it's because they haven't had time to, or haven't wanted to, fully grieve the relationship to enable them to move on." Wheal goes on to say that "finding closure on that relationship will enable all parties to move forward." Honestly, what better closure can one get than knowing you were right all along that your partner mistreated you and he has a pattern of doing this? This might be the best closure on the market.

Don't go full bestie with them too soon

So you and your ex's ex have bonded. You've commiserated, shared stories, and drank that entire bottle of tequila together. At this juncture, it might be easy to think that they are now your best friend, but that might not necessarily be the case. It's important to consider whether this relationship might cross a boundary, whether that be your own or theirs.

Psychologist Juliet Anton told Marie Clare UK, "Whether you want to be friends with your partner's ex or not, it's important to consider your own mental state and make the decision that is best you." In addition to that, as time goes on, you might learn things that were said and done in their relationship with your ex, and that could make you start comparing and contrasting. Why did they have that great vacation, and we didn't? Why did he tell her he loved her after three months but took a year to tell me?

Sam Owen, Hinge's UK relationship expert, told the outlet that, "Everybody has a past."  So judge not lest ye be judged. Who you keep close to you, who you open to, and who you keep at arm's length are all part of listening to your instincts and protecting your peace. "Safeguarding your social circle is a form of self-care," Owen said.

Your ex's ex is not your competition

If you do decide to stay friends with your ex's ex, you might find yourself questioning all those years you spent seeing other women as competition rather than standing in solidarity with them. Author Cheryl Strayed once said, "Romantic love is not a competitive sport," so why are we so conditioned to see other women as a threat to our relationship, or femininity, and feeling desired?

According to The Spectator, this is what's known as "internalized misogyny" or "girl hate," where we, as women, prop up the toxic standards of the patriarchy, even at the expense of other women. Editor Tavi Gevinson told The Spectator, "Girl hate is not hating someone who happens to be a girl, it's hating someone because we're told that, as girls, we should hate other girls who are as awesome as or more awesome than ourselves."

This idea is reinforced by so much media we consume: Shows like "Too Hot To Handle," "Love Island," and "The Bachelor" reinforces the idea that women need to compete with each other, sometimes in underhanded ways, to find a man, keep a man, and please a man. In your journey to becoming friends with your ex's ex, you might find that all those years of jealousy and animosity weren't worth it. She's a human, too, with her own flaws and insecurities, but she's also resilient, courageous, and wonderful — just like you. Women need to lift each other up because we can guarantee you, your ex won't.