Who else gets hurt in the process? The innocent bystanders otherwise known as friends.
In the inevitable fallout of an explosive separation, friends are usually torn between two ex-lovers as well - with the dangerous demarcation lines clearly drawn on the sand leaving them stranded on either side depending on their intimacy level, prior affiliation and the events leading to the break-up. With the emotional wounds suffered on both sides, it's always difficult to share in the beginning. During the process of returning shared clothes, books and toothbrushes, friends are also bartered and exchanged during the peace talks.
Is it really over?
Think partition with the friends forced to make a hasty migration in either direction. Certainly not an easy process.
Fortunately my first break-up didn't pose any such problems since my ISO and I had both left school behind for quite some time. There was a clear delineation between my friends in medical school and his abroad with hardly any intermingling - while there was nothing much to tell our shared schoolmates since they weren't entirely sure of the intimacy of our relationship ( though I bet there were whispers ).
We had it relatively easy that way.
Unlike what my friends have recently gone through. Deciding which side of the partition to remain on can be tricky at best especially when after some time, friendships inevitably start to overlap.
Jane : Wait, she was my friend first. Then I met the boyfriend.
John : But you like the boyfriend more.
Jane : Still she was my friend first. And she was my bridesmaid.
John : But her boyfriend is your accountant. And I play pool with him on Saturdays.
Jane : Damn, hate it when you're right.
Being friends with both equally can be problematic at best - at least in the initial frosty aftermath of a break-up.
Is it any wonder that even the sitcom FRIENDS mentioned this particular quandary with a sequence where they bargained to see who belonged in which camp in the aftermath of a breakup? And that was right before Rachel and Ross started exchanging their shared items.
Of course I never thought to see such a scene played out in real life. But to have two exes ( coincidentally? ) sitting on different tables for different parties in the same restaurant?
Now that's awkward.