#25: Who should get the friends after a breakup?

Ben Sixsmith kicks us off with our first guest column.

Our first guest columnist, writer Ben Sixsmith, walks us through how to decide who gets the mutual friends after a breakup.

Have a question? Drop me a line at defaultefriend@gmail.com, DM me on Twitter at @default_friend, or send me a message on CuriousCat.

When a couple breaks up, who gets custody of the mutual friends?

Hello Anon,

Thank you for your question!

Well, if you shared all your friends with your ex that was your first mistake.

Don't get me wrong: it's good to have friends in common. But if you have all the same friends you have no individual existence.

What happens to variety? To mystery?

What do the couples have in Couples? That’s right. All the same friends. It's unnatural really. Still, perhaps it is too late for this advice. As such, here are several options for dealing with the disputed territory that is your friendship group.


In this scenario, both parties attempt to keep bitterness out of the group. You and your ex try to get along with your friends without insulting or arguing with each other. Unfortunately, this state of affairs is always unstable. Hostilities are liable to erupt. It requires diligence and compromise.


Here, your friends can vote on whether to align themselves with you or your ex. The advantage is that your friends can have their say. The disadvantage is that all of democratic systems: voters are liable to be ignorant and short-sighted. Still, migration should be allowed from one side to the other - though this can exacerbate tensions leading to...


Here, all bets are off. Friends can be convinced, cajoled, blackmailed and bribed into staying with you. Don’t forget, however, that hearts and minds matter in warfare. If you are too aggressive, your friends might start to see you as the initial aggressor. If you are too weak, though, they might think that you deserved it. Does that help? I hope you can divide your friends without conflict, Anon. You and your ex both need them if you have had a sad breakup. But next time remember what I have said about friends. Of course, I hope that that relationship will last! But a little less dependence on each other might not be a bad thing.


Like Ben’s stuff? Read more of him on his Substack, The Zone.

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