I dated a friend and it ended really, really badly. She hurt me and I would prefer to avoid seeing her altogether, but most of my friends are also her friends. Should I try to talk to her and work things out so that we can be friends again? Either that or I'll have to avoid all of my friends. Help!
I'm very sorry to hear about your recent break up. Breaking up with someone is never easy, but having mutual friends can make it even more complicated. It's important to allow yourself time and space to process the break up and whatever emotions you are still addressing. Although things are really tough right now, time will absolutely lessen the pain.
That said, it sounds like you would definitely avoid this woman if you didn't have mutual friends, and that makes perfect sense. Instead of forcing yourself to make contact before you are ready—and you may never feel ready—you might consider some alternatives. It may be best to speak with your friends and let them know that you want to continue to hang out with them, but you'd prefer not to include your ex since the break up is so new. You can let them know that you understand they will continue to see her, but for now you'd rather avoid a run-in, and that you will need their support as you deal with the break up.
While it may require a bit of juggling, sometimes friends just have to put in extra effort to get through sticky times like these. Hopefully, your mutual friends will understand and support where you're coming from and make things a little easier. I would caution you against forcing them to be loyal only to you. Try not to put friends in a situation that makes them even more uncomfortable then they already are when it comes to you two. While you may feel wronged, she has a history with these friends and they may feel awkward having to defend her.
Also, I strongly encourage you to spend time with those friends who you do not have in common or with family members and co-workers. You may find it easier to open up with them about the break up, and it will be much easier to relax with them, knowing your ex won't be calling, texting or dropping by to see them unexpectedly.
While the break up is probably too fresh right now to deal with the long-term issue, at some point you will have to find a better solution than avoiding her completely if you'd like to keep your mutual friends. Your romantic history will probably prevent a deep friendship, however speaking with her directly and acknowledging that you'd like to figure out a way to stay civil post-break up might help with closure. Of course right now you need to focus on you, and moving on from someone who hurt you so badly.
Be patient with yourself, and expect the same of your friends. Be honest with them about what you are going through, and try to be specific about the kind of support and friendship that you need from them during this tough time.
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