Ah, the delicate art of cultivating a friendship with your ex. Can it even be done?
This simple question has sparked numerous debates over the years, and continues to be a topic of discussion, because frankly, we all feel very differently about the matter.
Actress Nikki SooHoo is no stranger to the sometimes-challenging task of transforming the dynamic between a former love interest into friendship, and was able to channel some of her personal experiences for her character Rachel in The Browsing Effect.
The film, written and directed by Michael K. Feinstein, explores the various hurdles faced with the dating app boom, and Rachel not only navigates through the world of swiping, but also through the very relatable instance of trying to befriend an ex.
I recently spoke with SooHoo about her role in the film and her personal theories on the matter. Here’s our conversation:
Bruna: What drew you to this project?
SooHoo: Rachel just seemed like such a fun character that I could relate to in some ways, and other ways she could be like my alter ego.
I liked that the character wasn’t specifically written to be Asian, but they were open to having an Asian-American play the role. And so I liked it being not racially specific, and I liked that I was adopted and Jewish. I’m like, that’s cool, that’s something that’s just different, and it doesn’t happen often to get opportunities like that.
Bruna: There’s so many relatable scenarios in the movie, but with your character specifically, something that I think a lot of people can take away is that kind of weird but sincere stage of trying to befriend your ex and not really knowing if it’s possible.
SooHoo: Yup. I actually try it all the time.
Bruna: What advice would you give someone who’s in that stage right now and doesn’t really know what to do?
SooHoo: Well from my own personal experience, I realize that sometimes they do need some time, they need some space away from you just for a little. But I always leave the door very open to being like look, I want to be friends with you and I want to be able to have a relationship with you. I’m so grateful to have had you in my life, so of course I don’t want to cut you out.
I’m the type of person, I could talk to you whenever. We can be friends all throughout, from the moment I break up with you to the moment I’m dating someone else, I want to be your friend. And I realize that it doesn’t always really work that well, so I just leave it open to them and when they feel ready to come back, then cool.
Bruna: How can you differentiate from the exes where there is a salvageable relationship there versus someone that you really need to put in your past and never go back there again? Or does that not even exist for you?
SooHoo: I would say almost all of my exes I’m still friends with, or at least acquaintances with. So if I saw them, I’d be very open and happy to see them and very much willing for them to be a part of my friend group and to be a part of my life.
There’s only been one guy that I was like, you know as much as I want to be able to hold a relationship with you, I feel that being friends with you would actually hurt each other and not help each other at all. It’s not a good relationship, because however we’re both recovering from it or whoever we’ve become after the breakup, is not conducive to a good relationship as friends.
Bruna: What do you love and hate about this new phenomena with dating apps and social media and everything kind of leading the way we now meet people?
SooHoo: What I love is that it really does broaden your circle and you are able to connect with people that you would never probably ever get to connect with or even seek to connect with had it not been for the apps.
That makes it tough because we just honestly really don’t know those people at all. People can put up a front for a good amount of time. But hopefully, their true colors eventually show through, but you might waste a good amount of time trying to find that. I think the hardest thing about online dating is, because you would have never been connected to those people, you have no frame of reference really of who they are. That makes it tough because we just honestly really don’t know those people at all. People can put up a front for a good amount of time. Hopefully, their true colors eventually show through, but you might waste a good amount of time trying to find that.
Bruna: Right. Another central message that I love to talk about on my platform is self-love, because I think that’s kind of the root of where all healthy relationships bloom from. What self love tips would you give someone who is fresh off of heartbreak and kind of now relearning who they are?
SooHoo: I would definitely say dive into your passions, the things that bring you joy. Because I very much believe that you attract what you are and I think that some of the most attractive people are confident and joyful and happy, because they feel good about what they’re doing and who they are. If you immerse yourself in things that do bring you joy, you’re going to emit that joy and people will be attracted to that.
I just went through a breakup and so I go through my ups and downs of feeling emotions and I just try to surround myself with people who I know love me, like my best friends and my family. And then to continue to do things that make me happy.
Bruna: I love that. My last question is my signature question–what do you think is the problem with dating?
SooHoo: There’s so many options.
Nowadays, we’re taught to marry for love, but love to our generation and our culture is finicky, because it’s based on emotion. Whereas my grandmother, who was a picture bride from China, was married off to somebody by her Dad and she had no choice in who she got to marry. Her understanding of what it means to love and have marriage is an action. Love is an action, and there is no other choice so you always work it out. You just figure it out, and you’re grateful for what you have because there is no other option.
Whereas, I think nowadays especially with online dating and stuff like that, you see so many options around you and you’re like, well if this doesn’t work, I can move on to the next and you’re less resilient in working things out with people and actually trying to communicate your problems. Versus, I think people are just thinking that they can find someone that fits perfectly with them, minus the work, and I think love is work. Love is being willing to work, it’s the action of being willing to work.
Because we know that there are so many other people out there, it’s making it harder to find people who will settle down and actually commit to working when it’s tough.
THE BROWSING EFFECT will be available on digital and On Demand on April 9.