You spent a long time together. You knew each other inside and out. And once upon a time, you thought you might be the perfect pair. But you weren’t, and for one reason or another (or a myriad of them most likely), you and your ex didn’t work out romantically. But now that it’s over, can you really be friends?
For most of us, along the path to finding the one, this question comes up over and over again. Oftentimes, it’s troubling. After all, you built a relationship with someone and there was a lot of good there. You don’t want to throw it all away… but then again, you used to sleep together. You even loved (or love) each other. And one of you, quite possibly, didn’t want to break up. In other words – it’s complicated.
The good news is, most of the time, it is possible to be friends with a former lover. It just takes some effort, and most importantly, some adjustment. Read our tips below to see ways to make it work.
First and foremost, before attempting a friendship with an ex, it’s important to let some time go by. It’s easy (and often our inclination) to try to dive right into companionship following a split, but doing so is an almost surefire guarantee that your friendship will blow up in your broken up faces. A break between the relationship and forging a friendship helps to let the changes from lover to friend settle in… and allows some of the hurt feelings to mend. How long you take is up to you… which leads to the second consideration when you want to be friends with an ex.
You need to have a solid feeling about their motivations as well. The last thing you want to do is take ten steps backwards – or send each other reeling. Still, one common reason exes try to be friends is that they’re carrying a torch for each other (or one of them is anyway). Unless you’re openly trying to reconcile, or trying to be friends in an effort to reacquaint yourselves and give it another go, this is another recipe for disaster.
You cannot make someone love you. Nor should you want to. When the right partner comes along, the universe will line up in your favor. Trying to force it under the guise of being “just friends” isn’t going to make it right. In fact, it will most likely lead to more disappointment and hurt.
So, make sure what’s bringing you together is genuinely missing each other’s platonic company. For instance, you have the same sense of humor, a mutual professional admiration or you like doing the same things on your time off. You know, the same reasons you choose your friends. Do not become friends because you’re lonely or just looking for someone to get it on with.
Third, if you’re both clear on your motivations and comfortable with the idea of forging a friendship sans benefits, make sure to be clear about your boundaries. It may or may not be comfortable talking about your current dating status or sex lives, for example. New lovers may not be comfortable with your closeness – how will you handle that? It’s important to know, if only to keep your relationship authentic. Which, is what this ultimately comes down to.
You and your ex connected for a reason. And while that reason may not be to live happily ever after (and we all know there’s no such thing anyway – love takes work), with a little bit of care and a whole lot of honesty, an old flame can turn into a lasting friendship.
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