Personal relationships are a maze and you might find yourself navigating through the twists and turns of how to be friends with your ex after a breakup. Even if the relationship is over, the comfort is probably still there. You’ve spent so much time together, learning each other’s likes and dislikes, and building relationship chemistry. How could you cut someone like that out of your life? But are you equipped with the knowledge of how to be friends with your ex?
A study says, “Previous research suggests that about 60% of people maintain a friendship after a breakup. Researchers have found that there are four main reasons someone stays friends with an ex after a breakup – safety, practicality, civility, and unresolved romantic desires.” In many cases, friendships based in practical and civil reasons lasted a long time and were considered positive. While staying friends for security reasons or because of unresolved romantic feelings was associated with negative feelings.
Is It A Good Idea To Be Friends With Your Ex?
Can you be friends with your ex? Well, that depends on the situation, how the relationship ended, and the people involved. You must have read things like “If you can be friends with your ex, either you never loved each other or you’re still in love” or “Your ex asking to be friends right after the breakup is like a kidnapper asking to keep in touch after letting you go.” Whether or not this holds true, it is also said, “When two people remain friends after a breakup, it shows tremendous maturity and acceptance on both their parts.”
So, being friends with your ex is a choice that you should make on your own and in your own time. It can be highly beneficial, but it is more than okay if you decide to not stay in contact at all. No need be a good ex-girlfriend.
Here are a few things to consider when you’re mulling over whether or not being friends with an ex who hurt you is the right choice for you:
- If you’ve both forgiven each other for all the bad stuff and are ready to move forward, then it is okay to be close friends
- It is a good idea if the aspects of the relationship that are important to both you and your partner, even after the separation, can be maintained healthily through friendship
- The reciprocal bond with someone who cares about you without any ulterior motives can immensely help your personal growth
- However, being friends with your ex can sometimes make it difficult to move on
- Knowing that you still want to be with that person romantically, or knowing that the other person might be hoping for it, is when you know that it isn’t a good idea to be friends yet
So, for the sake of your well-being, ensure a flow of communication and see where both of you stand before shifting from being romantic partners to the dynamics of friendship.
When Is It Okay To Be Friends With An Ex?
Knowing the signs that you are ready to be friends with your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, or not, is very important. Starting a relationship in a platonic way that you’re not really ready for — can be disastrous. You can open old wounds and those can take you a hundred steps back in your healing journey.
Here are some signs that will help you realize you’re ready to return to being friends.
- Both of you have accepted that the relationship has ended and understand why
- Both of you have actually found a way to move on emotionally and aren’t secretly wishing to get back together
- There are absolutely no romantic feelings involved; neither of you wants to be in a romantic relationship with the other
- You’re both okay to start dating other people, and you can genuinely see them happy with someone else
- Like every great friendship, this friendship adds something positive to your life, like companionship, growth, fun, anything
- If you’re co-parents, it’s good for your kids to see that you can be friends with your ex-husband or ex-wife. The positivity that will bring into their lives will make a lot of difference and make your lives easier as well
Related Reading: 12 Co-Parenting Rules For Divorced Couples
When Should You Drop The Idea Of Being Friends With An Ex?
However good and rewarding it can be to be friends with your ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, or ex-boyfriend, it is absolutely fine if you choose to not take that road and cut ties completely. That is better than ending in a messy situation that is only going to hurt you even more. Here are some signs that you should let the breakup continue on ‘all’ fronts:
- When you know you haven’t moved on and are secretly hoping to get back with them
- When your ex wants to stay friends and it doesn’t feel comfortable or doesn’t make you feel good
- If you’re having trouble setting boundaries or maintaining them, then you should definitely turn down an ex who wants to be friends
- If you feel jealous to be friends with an ex who has a girlfriend/boyfriend, if it upsets you to see their dating lives evolve, or if you’re having trouble dating other people because you’re still hung up on them
- Falling back into old relationship habits with them is also a strong sign that you’re heading toward a painful crash
But how to be friends with an ex you still love? There are a lot of things that you can do to make sure that you form a healthy and friendly bond with your ex without ending up in a puddle of tears. Is it hard to be friends with an ex? Yes. But let’s make it work.
How To Make Being Friends With Your Ex Work?
Deciding to be friends with an ex starts with a lot of self-evaluation and sometimes puts you in some tortuous tangles of your thoughts that you need to sort out before you can even begin to think about the friendship that you so earnestly yearn for. Once you decide that being friends with your ex is the right decision for you, it’s important to cultivate that friendship carefully. To that end, here are a few tips on how to make being friends with your ex work:
1. Have clarity
This is how you can figure out the reason behind wanting to be friends with your ex:
- Are you still in love with your ex?
- Are you looking for a part of the relationship in this new dynamic?
- Do you just miss having someone that close to you?
Make sure you’re both actually over each other and have moved on emotionally. The need to be near them or have them in your life should not be based on lingering romantic feelings. One more piece of clarity that you need: Decide if you wish to be friendly versus being friends with them. A Quora user says, “If I examine my relationships with exes against relationships with friends, there is a big difference.
“Friends are people who love you and support you, care for you and will listen to anything you have to say and be able to give you advice and opinions. When you’ve dated someone I feel there will always be a bias, and often it’s hard to divorce yourself from the relationship and truly deliver to the other what a friend would.”
Related Reading: Being Friends With An Ex You Still Love – 8 Things That Can Happen
2. Don’t rush the decision of befriending your ex
Breakups of all kinds are quite painful. For instance, think about being friends with your ex-best friend. The thought opened up some wounds, didn’t it? Remember how much time it took you to let go of that friendship? You have to let a considerable time pass after the breakup before you can think about being friends with your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend. Spend time with yourself to heal your broken heart. There is nothing selfish about wanting to be kind to yourself after a breakup.
“One of the best times for figuring out who you are and what you really want out of life? Right after a breakup,” says Mandy Hale, a best-selling author, who is on a mission to inspire single women to live their best lives after a breakup.
You need time and space to process your breakup, and so does your former partner. The more space you create for yourself, the better you understand yourself. So, disconnecting completely and practicing the no-contact rule will help you both move on and heal. Life would be easier if you both were on the same page but that’s not how life always works, right?
When your ex wants to stay friends, you don’t feel ready, and when you want a piña colada, life gives you lemons. So, don’t dive into it too fast or too soon, and when you’re both actually ready, you will be able to make the friendship work.
3. Set boundaries
It is important to communicate your physical and emotional needs and expectations from the friendship beforehand and set boundaries for being friends with an ex who hurt you. Should you ever want to get into a sexual relationship with your ex again (you’re not alone), you need to be very clear in your mind and careful to not fall back into romantic territory. Because let’s face it, you both broke up for a reason. Setting these boundaries will also help you have clarity in your future relationships. If you want to remain friends with your ex and also date new people, these boundaries will help you get the best of both lives.
4. Let bygones be bygones for a healthy relationship with your ex
This is a mandatory rule that you need to live by if you want to be friends with your ex. DO NOT BRING UP THE PAST. All your bad memories with them are in the past now, and there is no point in creating new frictions with old wounds. The emotional baggage of the former relationship should be left behind, especially when apologies and amends have been made, or compromises reached upon.
A friendship with an ex should be a new relationship chapter and stay pages away from your previous chapters with them, maybe different books altogether. It sounds impractical but we would advise you to approach it this way if you’re serious about being friends again. A Quora user talks about the benefits of being friends with an ex-lover, “You’ll never have anyone to ‘get over.’ The whole reason it can take so long to get over an ex is because they have suddenly disappeared from your life. If you keep your friendship, they are still there and the recovery process is much easier. Thus, no baggage when you come to give out your heart again.’
Related Reading: 9 Expert Tips To Let Go Of Someone You Love Deeply
5. Be just friends
When trying to be friends with an ex, make sure you’re both comfortable with being ‘just friends.’ If you want to be friends with them for some ulterior motive or some deeply hidden hopes of winning them back, your friendship will be like having an empty bottle of wine in the fridge – You’ll gain nothing from it, and it’ll take up space for something new.
The companionship, emotional support, and comfort that they bring – though may be rooted in the romantic relationship that once was – should not be based entirely on your past, or it will hinder your future relationships and new partners.
- It is okay to want to be friends with an ex
- If both the partners have moved on, and the friendship will bring something positive to your life, then it is a good idea to be friends with your ex
- However, if the friendship doesn’t make you feel comfortable, or you find yourself wanting them back, you should definitely drop the idea
- To make the new friendship dynamic work, you need to take some time away from each other, set some boundaries, and let the past stay in the past
Being friends with a former lover is not unheard of. In fact, most people would prefer that. Many bank on being friends with their exes to ease the pain of a breakup. However, while a platonic relationship sounds like a great way to keep your ex in your life without emotional and physical intimacy, it can lead to some confusing and complex situations.
You’re not alone in wanting to be friends with your ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, or ex-boyfriend, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Former partners can become good friends who know how to support, motivate, and care for you. However, every situation is unique. Take your time, ask yourself what you want out of a friendship, and make sure your ex stays in the past when it comes to your romantic future. That is how you can make your friendship with your ex work.
Yes, it is absolutely okay to be friends with your ex after a breakup but how good of an idea that is depends on how and why the relationship ended, the reason you want to be friends, and whether you’ve moved on or not. It is noteworthy that such friendship dynamics are not the same as with other friendships.
It is usually a bad idea to get involved with an ex you’re still in love with. However, if your intentions aren’t to get back together and you’re not hoping that they’ll change their mind about the breakup, you could try being friends. That will, more often than not, be a recipe for disaster. The dynamic can be confusing as your ex-turned-friend will still be someone you love but can’t have.
There isn’t a set time limit to this nor is there a proper formula. It is necessary to take time for yourself, heal, and find who you are as a person without them, and then broach the subject. When you’re sure you’re not interested in them romantically anymore, you can think about it. But keep in mind our tips on how to be friends with your ex.
Yes, it is a possibility that is always going to be on the cards. It is a complex situation and there are no fixed outcomes. It completely depends on the reasons behind the breakup, the reasons behind the friendship post-breakup, and what both parties expect from their relationship at the moment.