Can you be friends with an ex? It’s an age old question with one very popular answer: NO. Well I’m hear to counter that notion and to tell you that yes, exes can be friends.
How do I know this? Well one of my exes is actually now one of my best friends, as well as my business partner. That’s right, I’m talking about Eric Charles, our beloved relationship guru. Once upon a time, Eric and I we were in a very serious relationship, and, without going into too many of the gory details, we had a seriously awful breakup.
Whenever I tell people I started this site with my ex, I get the same horrified look followed by the same burning question: “HOW?!”
And most people just assume we started the site while we were together and are now stuck in some sort of joint custody nightmare. Nope. We started the site long after our relationship ended and soon after our new-found friendship came to be. Eric isn’t the only ex I’ve been able to be friends with, there actually are a few of them.
I’m not gonna lie, being friends with an ex isn’t easy. You may find yourself re-living all the hurt and pain of the breakup (and does anyone wanna go through that nightmare twice?!), you may experience a level of jealousy you never thought existed within you, and feelings that you’ve long since buried can abruptly be woken from the dead unleashing a whole Pandora’s Box worth of pain and problems.
However, there are also great benefits. First, it’s really wonderful to have someone who was once so important to you back in your life. There is a great comfort in having someone who knows exactly who you are, good and bad, and just gets you. You can also find peace and closure. Maybe you’ll get answers to the questions that have been haunting you. Maybe you’ll find that you are 100% over your ex and can look back and laugh at the fact that you once so staunchly believed you would never be able to live without this person. Or, you can find yourselves on a very exciting journey, like starting a website for instance!
So now the answer to the question I’ve gotten a million times before, how can you be friends with an ex? Well, here it goes….
You can not break up and then go out for coffee as pals the next day, or even the next week, or the next month. You need distance first and a lot of it (Eric and I went 2 years with zero contact!). You need to get your life back on track first, and this life can not include that one person who was once at the forefront of everything for a while.
You need time to heal and cry and analyze and mourn. It’s a painful, brutal process but there’s no way around it. Before you reach out to an ex, you simply must learn how to live, and how to be happy in this life, without him. You need to accept that it didn’t work back then and it probably won’t now.
FORGIVE AND FORGET
If you still have hurt feelings/anger/resentment and questions that are still unanswered, it may help to air it all out to your ex after taking that first step and reaching out (or once things get a little more comfortable). Whether you get the answers you wanted to hear or not, you need to forgive and forget and force those ugly feelings to dissipate if you ever want to develop a normal friendship with your ex.
The quickest way to kill a new friendship is by bringing the past into your present so make sure you are truly ready to leave all the sad and bad stuff behind.
UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT WHY IT DIDN’T WORK AND WON’T WORK
Before you can be friends with an ex, you need to wholly accept that a romantic relationship just isn’t in the cards. You tried but it didn’t work out, plain and simple.Do not try and justify why the relationship will work now even though it didn’t work then.
Yes, sometimes exes can get back together and start anew but we’re talking about friendship here and if you are really committed to being friends, you need to abandon all thoughts and hope of a romantic reconciliation and focus on a new future rather than a redo of the past.
ABANDON ALL ATTRACTION
To be friends with an ex, you need to have friendly feelings, not sexual ones. Now this one is the hardest steps to master because this person is someone who you were once very strongly attracted to and intimate with. Having feelings of attraction for your ex is a slippery slope that will most likely end with you getting hurt.
To develop a truly profound, realistic friendship with an ex, feelings on both end must be completely platonic. This means you can’t get jealous when he dates other girls, you can’t flirt, you can’t hold hands, kiss, cuddle, and absolutely no sex (I don’t care how many drinks deep you are, there is no such thing s casual sex with an ex, trust me!).
Dating other people that is! Do not abandon your love life just because an old love is back in the picture. Once the pressures of a relationship are replaced with the comfort of a friendship, it becomes way too easy to idealize the past and allow yourself to think maybe, possibly, potentially, this friendship will turn into something more… No, no, no!
Waiting around for your ex to fall back in love with you is not friendship, in fact, it’s more like emotional warfare. So keep dating, keep playing the field, and above all, keep yourself open to the possibility of finding love with someone else.
ASK YOURSELF WHY YOU WANT THIS FRIENDSHIP
Before you even make the first move and reach out to your ex, ask yourself why you really want to be friends with him. And don’t just ask yourself this- sit with it, mull over it, talk about it with your girl friends and most of all, be honest with yourself.
Do you want him to fall for you so you can reject him like he rejected you? Do you want him to tell you he never stopped loving you? Is the whole ‘lets be friends’ a cover for ‘let’s get back together’? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then you are not over your ex and need to follow all the steps outlined above before you can even think about being friends.
Unrequited love is the most painful pill to swallow, one that you will most likely find yourself choking over if you establish a friendship with your ex before you are actually able to see him as a friend.
So there you have it. That is how to be friends with an ex. Do you think you’d be able to do it? Are you friends with any of your exes? Have any more suggestions that weren’t on the list? Talk to us in comments!
- SABRINA ALEXIS