"Let's just be friends." *
Oh, those four little words no one in a budding relationship wants to hear. Yes, okay, sometimes it is a brush off, a nice way to say “I’m not interested, go away, leave me alone.” Heck I've been on both ends of that statement. I know how it feels to have it said to me, knowing I desperately wanted anything but that. I also know in saying that to someone else, I meant nearly the opposite.
But, what if sometimes, it really is one person being honest with another person, saying “I don't see this going anywhere romantically, but I do want to be your friend.”
I've found it takes a lot more to be "just friends." You have to like the person enough to respect that desire and be willing to sacrifice your own feelings of more. When one person in a relationship, or quasi start of a relationship, decides they don't feel romantically inclined towards the other person, that really is the end. It takes two to tango and all that. A sincere offer of friendship is something to consider.
The switch to just being friends doesn't happen right away. As great as it would be to flip a literal switch and shut off the flow of feels, emotions don’t work that way. It’s a journey, just like any other friendship. I know friends who hated each other at first and then life happens and things change and now they're besties. I should note in that example it’s two girl friends of mine. I believe the same is true for any relationship.
The key to making it as just friends is giving yourself (and the other person) time and space to breathe. Be realistic about who the person is - really is - and what friendship will look like. Keep things simple and your expectations low. Having low expectations means you won't have the same pull as you might have had before. Which can mean no more one-on-one time, long phone calls, or rapid text responses. Don't forget you've got your own life, friends, and interests. Just as much you're one of their “pack” of friends, they're one of yours.
Being just friends can be great.
*I do want to make a note that this is not for everyone. I respect people who know that they cannot be friends with someone they've dated. I wanted to present this traditionally negative phrase in a positive light.