Can you be friends with an ex?
Absolutely you can be friends with an ex. Keep in mind, this question doesn’t generate a “one size fits all” response. That said, it does still take two people to create a relationship so if either party doesn’t care to remain friends, it won’t happen.
Managing to stay friends with your ex depends a lot upon the circumstances in which your relationship expired, i.e., who dumped who. That alone is enough to generate some bitterness, no matter how low-key it might come off. Also, staying friends after ending abusive or controlling relationships is really not advisable.
It’s possible to be friends with an ex, as long as you’re both willing to put the respect and time into creating a new, platonic relationship. The best way to approach this is by considering your answers to the following:
Why? Why be friends? What need are you seeking to fulfill by remaining in a relationship, albeit, one that’s newly defined? It’s important to understand why you won’t let go. Also, if you want to attract someone new into your life, it’s challenging to do when you’re not making any room for her.
Who? Being friends with an ex requires that you both want to sign up for this. Friendship takes two participants who agree to the new “format.”
What? Both of you need to be crystal clear on what “being friends” looks like as it can have a myriad of definitions. Make sure you’re both using the same dictionary!
When? When do you plan to be friends? After a breakup, the last thing most people want to do is to continue to hang out with the person they just split from. Friends status should only be a consideration after both of you had had an “emotional rest” and healing from whatever it was that separated you in the first place.
What are the pros and cons?
If your relationship was a mutual dissolution, several of the pros are familiarity and comfort. It’s great to be able to still communicate with someone who knows your likes and dislikes, your corny off-beat humor and has the same interests as you do.
However, think about these “cons” — and they’re pretty big ones. If this was an intimate, passionate relationship, what do you hope to accomplish by staying friends with your ex? Also, jealousy will certainly come into play at some point if you see your ex with someone else and they appear a tad too happy. Bottom line — how much do you want to move on? If being friends prevents this, leave a dead horse alone.
You may need to be patient with a new partner in the beginning because their friends will tell them it’s not a good thing for you or her to still be friends with an ex. Only the two of you know if that’s the case for you.
If you care deeply enough for someone to make them the most important person in your life, then the love you have for them can change form while still being love. Sometimes we choose a person for a partner that should have only been a friend. There is no need to lose a great friendship because of that.
If forgiveness is an issue, then know that forgiving is beneficial for the forgiver, and the forgiven has to forgive themselves. Some people just make better friends than they do lovers or spouses so why not give it a chance?
What should you do if you want to retain your friendship with an ex?
Sharing intimacy and exposing personal thoughts and feelings toward one another in a love relationship is a profound investment. In order to consider bff-ing your ex, a few things have to fall into place:
- Give yourselves a time out. Both parties need to mourn the loss of that type of relationship and the emotional and mental investment made to it.
- Keep it platonic. Unless both consider the conscious choice to be “friends with benefits,” sexual chemistry loves to interfere with logical decision-making and can thrust (pardon the pun) both right back into a relationship that may only be based on lust, not love.
- Establishing emotional and physical boundaries for both parties is essential, so there is a respect that is understood, if there is no intention to create a long-lasting love relationship.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting to the place where you, from your side, can be friends with your ex. To be a friend to your ex means that whatever judgments and bad feelings you may have had about your ex that caused the end of your relationship have been healed. Furthermore, to be a friend to your ex means that you have forgiven him or her for whatever judgments and bad feelings they may have had about you.
Healing and forgiveness free you up to love again and love more fully. Once you get to that place where you “could” be friends with your ex, you will be able to enjoy the memories of the good times you had together. Also, you will be better able to discover what lessons you can learn from your relationship rather than blaming your ex for the breakup.
If you do become friends with your ex, you will need to be sensitive to your next partner’s feelings about the ongoing relationship with your ex (especially in the beginning). Of course, you have no control over what your ex wants and how they will treat you. Proceed without expectations.