Sometimes the question is just a courtesy, a toss-away line thrown out to lessen the blow of the breakup. Other times though, we really mean it; we want to keep the non-romantic side of the relationship alive because we still deeply care about the other person.

It’s a noble endeavor, but as British philosopher Alain de Botton points out in a new illustrated School of Life video, it rarely works out.

“We are deeply attached to the idea that we’re not monsters and as we know, nice people always try to be friends with their exes,” de Botton explains.

More often than not, though, a post-breakup friendship is a setup for further heartbreak, especially for the dumpee.

“The step from lover to friend is an eternally humiliating demotion,” de Botton explains. “Every sighting of the ex is guaranteed to reignite hope, and then, further insult. One isn’t acquiring a friend, more an unwitting torturer.”

Well said de Botton.


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