How to be Friends With an Ex

Do You Have to Let Them Go?

Perception can change how you view anything, and it plays a major part in every relationship. Some relationships are meant to end, and we have to realize that if that person was toxic or abusive, you are better off simply letting go and moving on. However if you have good interactions with that person and it just didn’t work out for you romantically, the following tools can help you remain friends!

1. First of all, you must give time to the process of healing. No matter what they say, or what you say, rarely is a “break up” an equally mutual pursuit! So there is a process to go through and your emotions will vary. You might, at times, focus blame on the other person, and/or feel guilt for your own actions. Until there’s a bit of balance to your lives you cannot build the foundation for your friendship. My advice is to allow a minimum of two weeks for a short dating stint, and at least six months of healing time for longer dating relationships. You need time to really allow whatever ill will “residue” that’s built up in your relationship to subside.

2. Can you be friends? Aside from any behavior that the other deemed toxic or abusive, it may be that one or the other is simply not willing to put aside any residual anger or resentment. You must both be able to let it go at some point, and that’s when you get to build the foundation that could create a deep and long-term friendship. Really think about what attracted you to that person in the first place? If you began as friends, what aspects of their personality did you enjoy the most when you first got together? Now think about what you learned to like about them and what you came to respect.

3. Create ground rules for when, where, or how you think it wisest to hang out. My suggestion is to be very clear about the first few get-togethers. For instance if you do NOT want to be intimate with them, do not set up night time “dates” with just the two of you. If friendship is really what you want, keep to group outings or very public events—preferably not alone. You can graduate the friendship to longer, more intense gatherings once you have proven you both can handle the connection without drama. Be sure to talk about when you start dating others—that’s a danger zone!

4. Once you have made the decision that the relationship is over, and you have taken the time to heal, and are now settling into the idea of being friends, you must stick to the new friendship and not go back to the romantic relationship you used to have. The issues that lead up to the break up—off limits! The intimacies of being sexual partners—off limits! The old resentments and taunts and teases based on the closeness you had as a romantic couple—negotiable, but still off limits without ground rules. You have to retrain yourselves to not be a couple anymore, but to be individuals, with the respectful distance around emotional or intimate issues.

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