Is it possible to remains friends with an ex? Sure, but it will require a careful and objective approach to the situation. Of course, being objective about a person with whom you used to share the most intimate parts of yourself can be a daunting task for some. This difficulty may be exacerbated if the relationship ended badly—in which case it may be impossible. However, if you truly feel that a friendship with your ex is worth the effort, then by all means go for it! Here are a few tips to get through the tightrope act of transitioning from girlfriend to friend.
Rule 1: Give yourself a grace period. Creating a “no contact” period between the time you break things off with your former lover and the time you decide to embark on your quest for a friendship is necessary. Regardless of how cordial, mutual, or inevitable your breakup may have been, the fact of the matter is your ex was an important person in your life at some point and not having him there in that capacity can be jarring. You need this time to mourn and accept the end of the relationship.
Rule 2: Assess your feelings. Once you’ve gone though the grace period and have concluded that you want to pursue a friendship with your ex, you have to ask yourself why you want this friendship? Be honest about your intentions. Make sure you’re not pursing this with the dream of a potential reunion. He may never want to be in a relationship with you again, and you have to understand and accept this as fact.
Rule 3: Assess his feelings. Reconsider if friendship with him is the right option if you know he still harbors strong feelings for you. Don’t give him a false sense of hope by stringing him along with a friendship when you know he yearns for more. This may sound counterproductive, but if you care enough to want him as your friend, then delay your friendship with him until you are completely sure that’s all he truly desires.
Rule 4: Keep is strictly platonic. Do not, I repeat, do not continue or maintain a sexual relationship with him. The idea of a “friends with benefits” situation is nearly impossible if it involves your ex. It’s hard enough to maintain a platonic relationship with an ex. Sex is always accompanied by feelings not matter how hard you try to avoid them. If rules 2 or 3 apply to either of you, then rule 4 must be followed as well.
Rule 5: Keep outings to a minimum. So, you’ve followed rules 1 through 4 to a T, and you’re now deep in the infant stages of your friendship. Don’t ruin any progress by still engaging in activities that can be considered “couple-like.” Frequent dinner dates and hang out sessions may bring on the potential for mixed signals and compromising situations to occur. Sure you may be enjoying your ex’s company, but friendships come with far less expectations than relationships. Just because you’re doing well as friends doesn’t mean you will do well as a reconciled couple. Remember: there was a reason you two broke up in the first place.
Rule 6: Create boundaries. Since this friendship has risen from the ashes of something that was once romantic, you have to recognize that this will not be your typical, run-of-the-mill friendship. Be careful not to discuss with your ex your newfound freedom and its accompanying love life. Neither of you may not have deep feelings for each other anymore, but even the tiniest of feelings may spawn jealousy which could lead to confused feelings and awkward conversations. This friendship is supposed to add value to your life, not create stress. Do not assume you two are cool enough to discuss how well last night’s date went.
Just like in a relationship, a good friendship requires effort, trust, mutual respect and honesty. Following these rules won’t ensure that a friendship will happen between you and your ex. However, if you can keep these few tips in mind, there’s a strong change you’ll be able to turn your failed romantic relationship into a budding friendship that could last for many years to come.
Tamara Jenkins is a real Jersey girl. She’s independent, opinionated, and loves her sports. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she’s reading, practicing yoga or working on a few books she hopes will get published one day. She also may or may not be training for a 5k race. With a belief that life is what you make of it, Tamara doesn’t merely want to survive life; she wants to live it.