Sharing friends with my ex

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Hi LL Community,

I'm in a tough spot and could use some advice. My boyfriend "Mike" and I broke up just under four months ago. We had been together for more than two years, which was more than enough time for us to live together and become very intertwined in each other's lives. Both of us are transplants to our state, and I had a very strong community of friends before meeting Mike. Mutual friends introduced us, and because of our shared interest in running, among other things, it was incredibly easy to share our social circles. Mike became fast friends with my close friends and a strong member of the community I had grown to consider my family since I moved here. He was everything I had wanted in a partner – someone who could love and be loved by my friends.

Unfortunately, what I initially loved about this has led to some social consequences post-breakup. Our friends have been able to create opportunities for us to spend time with them individually, but lately there have been more and more group activities that we have both chosen to be part of. While it's been possible to avoid each other at these events, I've also felt extremely uncomfortable not interacting with him. It's heartbreaking to see or hear him knowing that it's not in my best interest to engage with him.

I should also note that while the breakup was mostly mutual, I still feel very strongly for him and do want reconcile. I discussed this with him prior to moving out of our apartment, but he has made it clear that while he does care about me, he feels our relationship ran its course, and that there is no romantic partnership in our future. I don't know how to work through this. I have a handful of close friends who are just mine, but 90 percent of my close, local friends are Mike's close, local friends, too.

Our friends know I'm struggling with all of this (although I'm not sure I've communicated to what extent), but they don't know how to help or what to say. I've started to dial back talking to them about what I'm going through – because they've been listening for the last few months already, and I don't want to always seem like such a downer. It doesn't help that Mike doesn't talk to anyone about this and has gone back to his charming self, which I'm sure is a lot more fun to be around than someone who spontaneously bursts into tears at any given moment. I know most advice would encourage me to seek out new activities and hobbies so that I can meet new people, and I have been doing this since moving out on my own, but pulling away from my inner circle of friends just seems unbearable. How do I navigate all of this? Thanks for the support.

– Social

You're still in the first few months of a very difficult breakup. That means you can't do everything you used to do with a smile on your face. The simple answer here is that if you're not enjoying these big group activities, don't participate in them. Get honest with at least a few of those shared friends and tell them that you need avoid outings with your ex so you can truly get over him. Explain that you want to be invited to things – you never want to be shut out – but you might need to say no for awhile. It's OK to admit you're struggling.

I would never tell you to drop your friends. You've worked hard to develop a social life, and you shouldn't have to let it go. I will tell you that for now, you should focus on that inner circle. Surround yourself with the friends who are all about you.

It might also help to make, like, one new friend. Sometimes it's nice to get to know someone who never knew you when you were with your ex. One new friend might make the world seem 10 times bigger.

Also, you are allowed to create your own social opportunities. You can reach out to five people in the group – maybe even 10 - and ask them to get together for dinner at a place of your choosing. Not every activity has to be for everyone. You can be your own cruise director. It'll help.

– Meredith

Readers? New friends? Does this just take time?