If you end a relationship on mutual or good terms, it makes sense to desire to remain close. But is it really a good idea to remain friends with your ex after breaking up?
It’s difficult to end a relationship, especially if you still care for your ex. You don’t want to go your separate ways because you’re connected and you get along. But should you stay friends? The answer depends on a lot of things. Here are just a few.
- Did you have a friendship before you dated?
You may wonder why this matters. If you weren’t friends before you dated, you might not have anything to hold on to. Staying in each other’s lives in the absence of romantic feelings might be more difficult if your relationship didn’t grow out of of a friendship.
It can be more easy to base friendship on common ground without the romance if you had one before.
- Do you have friends in common?
It can be easier to connect as friends after the romantic relationship ends if you’re both in a group of mutual friends. This can get you into the routine of seeing your ex in platonic settings.
You’ll also both be more likely to have accountability for your actions. When your friend group knows your situation, they can not only help make your transition to friendship easier, but they can also help keep things like jealousy and drama at a minimum, which will help you get along better.
- Do you really want to stay friends after a breakup?
You may be thinking, “Of course! My ex is important to me! I don’t want to lose them!”
But is your desire to remain friends based on guilt? Or loneliness? To make your friend group dynamics less awkward? Or because it’s comfortable to be around them?
You should remain friends only if you both truly agree that it would be good for both of you. It often isn’t what’s best for both of you. So try to be objective and impartial as you consider the positives and the negatives. Are there more possible issues to staying friends than there are benefits?
Remaining friends after breaking up can work. But you have to know where to start. Here are some tips to help make it work.
- Take your time.
Hanging out as friends right after breaking up can be difficult. You need time to find closure and to mourn. And jealousy can creep into the situation.
If you don’t take time for yourself and for your ex to become accustomed to the new non-romantic status of your relationship, you may be obstructing your ability to successfully get over the relationship.
If you plan to remain friends after breaking up, take a break from daily contact. It may feel like constantly sending memes to each other is proof of your maturity, but you’re not letting yourselves move on.
- Work out what you will share.
If you’ve agreed to remain friends, you need to have some ground rules, so neither of you oversteps. Friendship doesn’t have to mean best friends, so you should try to keep your interactions more shallow for a while.
For example, if one of you begins dating somebody else, the ex is probably not the best choice to share the news with or to ask for relationship advice. So figure out how you’re going to handle the transition. Do you want to talk right away about future relationships right away? Or do you agree it would be better to take some time apart before talking about things that could rekindle old feelings?
- Avoid being passive/aggressive.
Romantic relationships can only work if both parties are open and honest. It works the same way for friendships. If you’re feeling bitter about your ex moving on faster than you are, or you think that they’re bad-mouthing you to others, talk things out.
If you want to remain friends after breaking up, you need to be on good terms without being sneaky, or pretending that everything is fine when it’s not. You both need to be honest. Let your ex know if you were hurt by something they did, to help them understand why you want more time or space.
- Be gracious about moving on.
You might think that since you’re friends, they’ll understand. But be sure to consider their feelings. If you bring around your new squeeze to meet your friends without giving your ex a heads-up, they might feel like you caught them off-guard. Strive to always be gracious about moving on.
You certainly should move on at your own pace, but do it without rubbing their face in it. Your ex is your friend, and you are theirs. Take their feelings into consideration just like you would with any other friend. And remember that agreeing to remain friends doesn’t mean that you’ve both moved on and the romantic feelings are gone.
- Remember that slip-ups may happen.
On-and-off relationships are inherently complicated, and can even be dysfunctional. And they often happen when people try to stay friends after breaking up. Spending time with someone you had strong feelings for in the past can bring those feelings back to the surface.
The reasons you broke up over may be gone now, or maybe there’s no more nagging or jealously because you technically aren’t together anymore. But those things can lead to unplanned and regret-filled hookups, or other issues you weren’t prepared for.
If something like this happens, try not to be hard on yourself. It can be comforting to go back to things you were used to. That’s just human nature. But be aware of the possible consequences. Hooking up with an ex or a friend can cause serious problems in the relationship, so be careful as you proceed.
- Strive to be truthful.
Staying friends after breaking up is a mature and noble endeavor, but that doesn’t guarantee it will be right for you. Things go differently for every couple, depending on the specific events and circumstances that surround the break-up.
If you couldn’t trust your ex in a romantic relationship, it’s likely that things won’t change much in that regard in a friendship. If you still have strong feelings because you’re frequently seeing them or talking to them, that’s unfair not only to you, but also to your ex. Neither of you should pine for the other if you’re true friends.
So even though you made an attempt, remaining friends after breaking up just might not work for you. If this turns out to be the case, tell the truth. It may be difficult for you to admit you’re still hung up on them, or that you’re having a hard time moving on because they’re still in your life. But they’ll get it. Just tell them that you need the time and space to truly move on.
Perhaps after a while, you’ll be able to try again. But if you can’t remain friends with your ex, don’t let that make you feel like a failure. It just isn’t necessarily the right thing for everyone to do.
Staying friends after a breakup sounds mature, but it’s often more difficult than it it sounds. All relationships have complications, but you shouldn’t start a friendship with built-in drama and difficulties.