Don’t give up entirely if you and your ex aren’t ready to give the relationship another shot. It may be possible to stay friends. Especially if your ex misses your friendship and support.
Frankly, cutting out your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend can be like “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: You can’t just suddenly become friends with your ex. At least not right away. The reason is simple: When you’re in a relationship, your brain treats that relationship as a survival need. It doesn’t matter if you’re dating or married; your brain needs to feel like you and your partner are in it together for life. When you have an unwanted break-up, your brain freaks out and needs a while to adjust to the new reality. And until it does, you won’t be ready for friendship.
Your amygdala —the part of your brain that governs emotions —thinks this way because it’s trying to keep you alive and well. It does this by detecting threats and releasing chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline to help you cope with them.
When you break up with someone, your brain perceives a threat to your survival because you’ve lost something important. Your brain needs time to come to terms with the loss before it lets you start feeling like things are safe enough for friendship.
As weird as it sounds, a friendship between exes isn’t possible until both parties accept the loss. When one person “gets over it” faster than another, they see their ex as not accepting the loss. Which makes friendship unpalatable.
How to Become Friends With Your Ex
How do you become friends with someone you were recently intimate with? Friends! Even the word makes you cringe. Yet, the question of how to become friends with an ex is a common one asked on Quora and Reddit, so we’ll take a look at some strategies to make it work.
First, figure out what you are hoping to gain from being friends with your ex.
Let me explain:
When you decide to become friends with an ex, it’s essential to keep in mind what you hope to gain. Are you looking for someone who can give you support and help you get through difficult times? Someone you will take to parties with your new boyfriend or girlfriend? Or, do you simply want to keep your ex on friendly terms, with who you’ll have occasional chats “here and there”?
Life is full of seemingly random events. Perhaps you are looking for someone to help with child custody issues one day and help planning your wedding the next.
We never know when will we need a shoulder to cry on or someone we can lean on when a partner is away at work or school.
The reasons why people want to remain friends with an ex are endless. But make sure that whatever reason you have for doing this will not cause further heartache and pain when the friendship goes sour. Make sure that both of you agree on what the expectations are for this friendship before moving forward.
Once you know your reason, you can test the water to see if your ex is receptive to being friends.
Let’s look at this now:
If you’ve been out of touch with your ex since your break-up, you’re going to need to reestablish contact before you can mend fences.
There are a few different ways to do this.
If you have mutual friends, make an introduction. If not, send an email or text message asking how s/he’s doing and saying you’d love to chat sometime. Your ex will most likely know what the subtext is. For some people, it’s not even subtext —they’ll be expecting this sort of communication from an ex-lover at some point.
If you sense that they’re interested in reconnecting, set up a time to meet in person. This is still just a casual meeting between two friends —no pressure, just catching up over coffee or lunch. If the response is lukewarm at best, take a break and give your ex more time. However, if there is interest in being friendly again, build on this small win!
For most people, sending a text message will work best. Don’t overthink this. Just test the waters by sending your former partner a text, asking how things are going and what they’ve been up to lately. Do they seem open and receptive? Great! Now you can ease into more innocuous conversation topics like movies, books and music, instead of trying to hash out the details of a painful break-up.
If this goes well, I suggest asking your ex to hang out with you when you’re both free some time. You could meet at a coffee shop or a bar —think of locations that won’t trigger bad memories for either of you.
Once you have established a connection, you will need to watch out for jealousy and manage your expectations.
At some point, your ex will begin meeting new people and enter the dating scene.
Jealousy can be a major problem for some. It’s normal to feel some anxiety when your ex starts dating after you split. Still, if this anxiety gets out of control, it can destroy any hope of a cordial relationship.
The best way to minimise the effects of jealousy is to make sure you don’t overreact. Because in time, you will refine your perspective of the situation and become less jealous. If you know you’re prone to jealousy, be sure to sit tight and not relay your feelings about your ex’s new relationships right from the off.
The other thing to do is manage your expectations about this friendship. Suppose you’re still in love with your ex, for example. In that case, no matter what situation arises, it’s going to be hard for you to deal with it objectively. Know thyself!
Being Friends With an Ex
It can be tricky being friends with an ex. Especially if you haven’t really been friends before. And even more so if you broke up on bad terms. Being friends with your ex will likely challenge you! However, while friendship is not going to work for everyone, it can be your most cherished friendship for those it does.
One obvious advantage is that your ex likely knows you better than any of your other friends. Therefore, you can open up with your ex about practically anything, including personal stuff you would not even share with your best friend.
If you and your ex can become friends without any weird hangups, you can have the ultimate friendship.
Staying Friends With an Ex
The biggest trick to staying friends with an ex is to not be weird about who they date. After all, it is hard to see your ex enjoying the company of other men and women. And while your ex will naturally want to talk about their new boyfriend or girlfriend with their friends, that may not include you. At least not to begin with!
And yet, over time, these issues will practically vanish until one day, you will both laugh at how big a deal was made of such things.
Should You Be Friends With Your Ex?
You probably have a lot in common with the person you dated. You share similar interests, behaviours, and even physical characteristics. It’s only natural to wonder if being friends is healthy for you.
The answer will be YES, so long as you both are sincere and want the best for the other. And of course, it helps to not hold grudges about the past…
Being Friends With an Ex You Still Love
It is normal to still be in love with your ex after the break-up. After all, when the relationship ends, the feelings continue for some time. You do not suddenly stop having feelings! However, being friends with an ex you still love will make it harder for you to move on.
If you still love your ex and fantasise about winning them back, you need to be honest with yourself and decide if that is your plan (rather than just be friends.) If so, you should ask if breaking up was the right decision and go from there.
My speciality is reuniting couples, and I can help you with getting back together.
However, if you have accepted the break-up and accept that it will take some time for the feelings to subside, then friendship can work.