If your relationship ended on good terms, it is understandable to consider the idea of remaining friends with an ex. After all, this is most certainly someone you like and enjoy spending time with. Let us look at how to be friends with your ex – when it works, and when it does not.
So, yes, you can be friends with your ex. Whether it is a good idea or not, depends on the situation and the people involved. Some people may maintain strong, good relationships with their ex-partners without difficulty or issues, while others may find that attempting to remain friends can be challenging or even traumatic. When two individuals discover they are not compatible as romantic partners, there are still significant components of their relationship that can be preserved through friendship.
Can you be friends with an ex you still love?
Being friends with an ex you still love is difficult, but it is possible. Even after a romantic relationship has ended, love is something that some people never cease to experience. They may still love and care about their ex-partners. You can keep a friendship with an ex you love as long as you fully recognize that the relationship is finished and are actively moving on with your life.
However, if your feelings for your ex are still strong and passionate, being friends may make it difficult to let go of the relationship and move on.
How long should one wait?
There is no definitive timeframe for getting over a breakup. It can take a few weeks or months for some people, while it can take years for others. Before attempting to be friends, both individuals must feel like they have moved on. Friendship should not prevent either individual from moving forward to other relations.
Whether you desire to remain friends or not, it is critical to establish boundaries with your ex.
Physical and emotional boundaries are such examples. It is up to each individual to choose what boundaries are necessary to maintain friendship without the relationship becoming painful or reverting back to romance.
Making it work
Give it time – Do not hurry into a friendship you are not ready for. You will probably need some time and space following the breakup, before you try to be friends with your ex.
Make sure you are over each other – Holding a friendship with an ex is all about making sure you are both over one other. Pay attention to how you feel around your ex. Is there still attraction or pull between you? Those are indicators that feelings may still be present.
Ensure your relationship is different now that you are not dating – Your friendship should be distinct from your previous relationship. In terms of how connected your lives are, how much you rely on each other, and how much intimacy you share – there should be a difference in your dynamic which will ensure that your relationship does not turn toxic.
Remember, just because two people are no longer in a relationship does not mean they cannot still care about one other. Indeed, this can still develop into a new friendship. Sometimes all you need is a little space and time. However, if you still have romantic feelings for each other or if friction occurs when you both start dating other people, being friends with an ex might make it more challenging to successfully move on from the relationship.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Charlot Cauchi is a Gestalt Psychotherapist at Willingness. He has experience with adult clients with mental health difficulties, anxiety, depression, loss, trauma, stress and relational issues.
Mogilski, J. K., & Welling, L. L. (2016). Staying friends with an ex: Sex and dark personality traits predict motivations for post-relationship friendship. Personality and Individual Differences, 115, 114–119.