It’s okay to want to be friends with your ex. Cutting them out entirely can be like “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
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Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?
If it is something that both wants then of course you can. I’m sure there are exceptions, but so long as the positives outweigh the negatives, friendship is worth exploring. And quite doable.
Of course, you won’t likely become ~productive~ friends with your ex overnight. Here’s a little known fact: The brain treats a romantic relationship as a survival need. So when we break up, we become disorientated. For that reason it’s best to wait until you adjust to the new reality. You’re not ready for friendship until you do.
One other thing…
You can’t truly be friends if either of you rejects the breakup. If you’re still attached, you’re going to have problems.
How to Become Friends With Your Ex
Your ex needs to know you want friendship. They also need to ~believe~ you do not want anything more than that. If those two conditions are met, it’s easy to become friends if your ex wants the same.
To achieve the above all you need to do is ~communicate~ that you want to be friends and nothing more.
You can literally say:
hey, would be cool to remain friends. i accept the breakup. give it some thought.
You don’t have to get overly wordy. Just state your preference. The less you say, the more at ease you’ll seem.
If you’re the analytical sort, you might first consider what you hope to gain from friendship. For everyone else, it’s okay to let the friendship blossom organically.
For example, do you want your ex to support and help you through tricky times? Will you do the same for them?
That’s a very different kind of friendship to the “we are on friendly terms” kind.
If you’re so inclined, think through what you hope to gain by staying in touch with your ex. What does that picture look like?
It’s possible your ex has a different picture in mind than you do.
Mind you, it’s also likely that over time the picture for both will change.
It’s best to not be rigid about these things.
— What if it’s been a while or you need to fix something?
You can test the water and see if your ex wants to be friends at any time. But if it has been a long time you might feel apprehensive.
Still, after a long period you’re going to need to reestablish contact one way or another. And yes, you may also need to put work to fix any broken fences.
There are a few different ways to do this.
For example, if you have mutual friends then ask them to make a re-introduction. If not, you can send a text asking how they’re doing and acknowledge the time gap (“this is not a spam message, it’s your ex!”) Then admit any wrong doing in a cool and relaxed way (“yeah, I was a dick. My bad.”) And say you’d love to chat sometime.
Of course, you could add a little “not looking to ask your hand in marriage, just friendship…” to soften things. Humour helps.
Your ex will likely try to guess what the subtext is. And yeah, they likely were expecting this sort of message from their ex-lover at some point.
If you sense they’re interested in reconnecting, pick up the phone or casually suggest a catch up in person. Just a simple meeting between two friends. No pressure.
If the response is lukewarm or worse, drop it and give your ex more time.
For most, sending a text will work best. Don’t overthink this. Just reach out. And if they seem open and receptive, great. Then you can ease into more easy conversation topics like movies, books, music etc.
If all goes well, ask 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.
— What if your ex starts dating?
Hmm, once you have established a connection, you will need to watch out for jealousy and manage your expectations.
After all, at some point if not already, your ex will begin meeting new people and enter the dating scene.
Jealousy is a major problem for some. It’s normal to feel anxiety when your ex starts dating. But if this anxiety gets out of control, it can destroy any hope of an enjoyable relationship.
The best way to minimise the effects of jealousy is to not act on your feelings. Or at least implement a buffer of time between what you feel and what you ~do~.
If you feel jealous and you act immediately after, you will probably do something regretful.
Whereas, if you feel jealous and you sleep on it, you probably won’t do something silly.
Thankfully, over time you will refine your perspective of the situation and become less jealous. But if you know you’re prone to jealousy, be sure to sit tight and not relay your feelings about your ex’s new relationship right from the off.
The other thing to do is manage your expectations about this friendship. If you’re still in love with your ex then no matter what situation arises, it’s will be hard on you.
Heads Up About Being Friends With an Ex
It’s usually tricky being friends with your 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, when it words, it’ll be your most unique friendship by far.
One clear advantage is your ex knows you better than any of your other friends. That means you can open up with your ex about practically anything, including personal stuff you would not even share with your best friend.
So, if you and your ex can become friends without any weird hangups, you can have the ultimate friendship.
— On staying friends
The biggest trick to staying friends with an ex is to not be weird about who they date. If you can do that, you can probably weather any storm.
Of course, it’s only natural your ex will want to talk about their new boyfriend or girlfriend with their friends. But that may not include you. At least not to begin with.
That’s fine. Over time these issues will practically vanish until one day, you will both laugh at how big a deal was made about it all.
— Should you be friends?
If you want to be friends and it is healthy then sure. It helps if you share similar views and can debate the things you don’t agree on without falling out.
— What if I still love my ex?
It’s normal for loving feelings to continue after the breakup. After all, when the relationship ends the feelings don’t suddenly go away. 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 just fine.