“I think we should break up…but we can still be friends.”

So many people consider this statement to be silly or impossible. They believe that a romantic relationship is completely separate from a friendship, and that the two cannot coincide.

I beg to differ.

When you form a romantic relationship with someone you are forming a bond, a best friendship with that person. It is even more deep and meaningful in some ways than just a best friendship because you get to share the physical aspects of dating that you, hopefully, do not share with anyone else. And the longer you date that person, the deeper and more meaningful your relationship to him/her should be.

Why do you think that engaged and married couples say things like “I get to marry my best friend?” It is because that person IS their best friend. They aren’t some lover that they just make out with or have sex with. Their relationship is much more complex.

There is a purpose to dating. Having a boyfriend/girlfriend should be about finding your future spouse. If you go into a relationship with this mindset, you are setting yourself up for success. You WANT to find your best friend, the person you will spend the rest of your life with.

If, after a few months or years of dating, you come to the conclusion that this is not your future husband/wife, does that negate your entire friendship that you built during those months or years? Some people date for five or more years before they realize that their significant other is not their future spouse. That is FIVE years of friendship and relationship that is suddenly gone overnight if you believe that you cannot be friends with your Ex. Can you really lose your best friend that easily? What did your relationship really mean if that is the case.

Just because you are losing the ROMANTIC side of a relationship, does not mean you have to lose the FRIENDSHIP side of a relationship. Clearly, if you were in a relationship with someone, you probably liked them as a person. Hopefully you liked them quite a lot! Breaking up with someone is SO MUCH HARDER when you are losing your best friend AND your significant other.

Why do both have to coincide? Fun fact: they don’t!

There should not be this stigma concerning being friends with your Ex. If you want to stay friends—stay friends! If you loved each other when you were dating, you should love each other still, even if you are not IN love with them. Loving someone is about wanting what is best for the other person; all that has changed is that you have realized you are not meant for marriage. But that does not have to change your friendship if you don’t want it to.

This is not to say that all romantic relationships are healthy and good. For some, the breakup was necessary because of emotional and even physical abuse. No one should be FORCED to stay friends with their Ex by any means. And if you feel that it would be too difficult for you to maintain a friendship after a hard breakup, of course, do what is best for you psychologically.

But, everyone should have a choice. No one should be criticized for choosing to be friends with their Ex.