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Relationships

How To Be Friends With Your Ex and is it the Right Choice?

Learning how to be friends with your ex can be a difficult thing to do.

Do you believe you can be friends with your ex? Don’t worry; I won’t interrogate you as your friends did! As controversial as it may sound, some failed relationships do flourish into long-lasting friendships. 

Is it possible for your previous relationship? Well, of course. If you have made up your mind— there’s always a chance of friendship with your ex. However, circumstances & intention do matter when it comes to being friends with your ex. 

  • ‘Do you have romantic intentions towards your ex-partner and want to keep them close to you via friendship?’
  • ‘Did you guys break apart mutually or was it a painful breakup for you?’

Being friends with someone who has hurt you in the past can be complicated— I advise you to take a bit more time to move on and let that lingering feeling of pain go away before you initiate anything. 

Similarly, if you still have romantic feelings toward your ex-partner, refrain from contacting them. Trust me; you don’t want to go through the same emotions repeatedly. There was a reason why you guys broke up, and you should accept that reality. Being friends with them won’t bring back the relationship. 

Now, friendship after a healthy or mutual breakup can be plausible. Relationships and breakups are complicated— nobody genuinely would want to go through a breakup, but sometimes it’s necessary. 

Why do some people choose to be friends after a breakup?

  • While the relationship was great, it lacked sensuality or romance. 
  • Great at talking but not particularly compatible when it came to sex or foreplay.
  • Your feelings grew apart due to work, job, or other life factors. 
  • No attraction romantically
  • Never were looking for a committed relationship
  • Perhaps, you both wanted different things from the relationship. 

Not every ex is comparable— some may be toxic, but there are always chances that the person you dated was genuine. Friendship with an ex takes a lot, but it can turn out to be the best bond for some. 

It’s a controversial topic whether you want to be friends with your ex or not. But, if you’ve arrived here, I’m sure you want to keep in touch with your ex and don’t want to lose a good friend.

This leads us to ‘how you can be friends with your ex after a breakup and why it’s not necessarily a bad thing!’

Is keeping friendship with your ex a wise idea?

It all depends on the circumstances. I mean, if the reason for your separation was highly upsetting, you should avoid maintaining any further bond.

However, if you are mature enough to accept what has happened and move on, you can continue it. 

couple joking around laughing
  • Do you genuinely want your former partner as a friend, or is it just that you are too attached to them to let them go just yet? 
  • Are you okay with your ex-partner’s new romantic interests? 
  • Are you not doing this to get back your ex in a relationship?
  • Is it a mutual decision between you and your partner? Are you both interested in being friends? 
  • Are you sure your ex-partner doesn’t have other motives for this friendship? Do they still have leftover feelings for you?
  • Will it be okay to have a friendship with your ex for your new partner? 

Everything happens for a reason, and I don’t want you to get hung up on things that aren’t the source of your happiness. So, make sure you fully know your choices before becoming friends with your ex-partner. 

Questions you should ask yourself before starting a new friendship with your ex

Let’s get straight to the questions!

  1. Will you guys maintain the needed distance? That is, will you be able to restrain any physical touch or flirty interactions? 
  2. Will you accept them as a friend entirely?
  3. Can you guys create and be within the boundaries?
  4. How often can you guys talk and plan a meeting?
  5. Will you be okay when your ex tells you about their new partner?
  6. Did you move on from all the emotions and fondness for your ex?
  7. Will you cut off in the future if your new partner isn’t comfortable with it?
  8. What will be your friend’s reaction & how will you cope with it?
  9. Will you appreciate your friendship with your ex, or are you too attached to them that you don’t want to lose them?
  10. Is your former partner respectful towards you in the past, or will they add worth to your life as a friend?

If any of these questions indicate that you/your ex-partner are still hung on the relationship— please stop! However, if you don’t mind answering these questions and are ready for a new start— go for it! These 13 crucial steps will help you stay friends with your ex after a breakup without any toxicity. 

How to be friends with your Ex?

If you’re okay with having a platonic relationship with your ex-partner, I’ve labeled some of the most significant points that will help you through this process and avoid getting into awkward situations.

1. Have an open conversation:

Well, the very first step is to discuss your mutual agreement and expectations from this friendship with your ex-partner. 

What do you guys want from each other? Be clear with your intentions, create a transparent opinion, and ask questions to each other to be more defined with your motives.

2. Build some boundaries with ex

“Boundaries? But we are not in a relationship or anything!”

Yeah, I know, but still, you need boundaries if you want to make this friendship work and if you don’t want it to affect any of your new bonds. 

Be clear with the boundaries and decide: 

  • How often can you talk or meet?
  • Will it be okay to go to a movie together?
  • What kind of touch is acceptable and what’s not! 
  • Should you both discuss previous memories or let go of the past completely? 
  • Can you visit places that you visited as a couple?
  • Your say in their romantic interest? Is it acceptable to have a voice? 
  • What can you discuss within limits? Can you discuss new romantic interests?
  • What is your last point of being friendly?

These questions will keep your friendship within limits and create a healthy environment for you & your partner.

3. Cut out the old habits and draw new patterns for friendship.

friends hanging out over a cup of coffee

Please note: Being friends with your ex isn’t only possible by cutting down physical and sexual intimacy— you will also need to abide by a new routine for it to work. 

When I was in a relationship, my partner was always the add-on at every party or function. But as of now, things are different, so you should refrain from reliving the past. 

You may go for a coffee together or can join a get-together with old friends by coming concurrently. Don’t stick to the same old habits— it will only take you back to the past, and that’s never healthy. 

4. Constantly evaluate if you are okay with this arrangement.

As humans, our feelings change constantly. What may have started as a genuine friendship may throw you back into the same cycle of past heartbreak and suppressed emotions. Romantic feelings for your ex-partner (now a friend) may resurface, and things can get messy. 

These feelings may be an outcome of being too close to each other after the breakup and not necessarily a product of genuine love. So, it’s necessary to check up on yourself and what you are feeling towards your ex-partner/friend. 

Take space if you cannot control your feelings, and don’t make rash decisions. Don’t forget; you broke up for a reason. This space will help you reevaluate your decision. 

5. Give space to each other: 

You and your partner are two different individuals; both of you will have different speeds at understanding and healing emotions. 

You may be ready for friendship, but your partner might still need time to deal with their emotions and vice versa. It’s necessary to be on the same page while starting a new bond with your ex-partner. 

So, give each other the needed space & time. Only start when you are both ready willfully. 

6. Avoid dinner and prefer coffee: 

I advise you not to opt for dinner because it somehow stimulates intimacy. Instead, go over for a coffee break or a casual brunch. 

Dinner together may lead you to ride back to all those exotic date nights that you and your partner shared in the past. Reminiscing the past that you wish to let go of will affect your newly-found friendship bond and other relations (like new romantic interests). 

Also, avoid going to places you used to go most while in a relationship.

7. Praise but don’t flirt: 

If you meet your ex and they stun you with their new changes, compliment them genuinely but don’t flirt. There is nothing wrong with admiring someone for their attributes, and you can always marvel at someone without having any romantic interest in them whatsoever. 

couple out enjoying their day laughing

For example, praise them like you’d compliment any other of your friends. 

  • The right way to do it: “Wow, your shirt looks VOGUE; where did you get it from!”
  • The wrong: “Wow, I’ll fall for you all over again with that look.” 

Remember to be very disciplined with your thoughts. There is a difference between adoring and flirting, and you should not be a cheesy freak in front of them.

8. Don’t go back to the past: 

Well, you guys fell apart, and it all happened for good. Please remember that previous fights and disputes should not drive this new friendship. “What’s in the past should remain in the past.” You cannot make a new relationship blossom on the remnants of grudges. 

  • Don’t blame them for their past mistakes as a lover. They are not your lover anymore!
  • Don’t point out their past behavior to justify your current arguments.  
  • Don’t expect them to treat you the way they used to as a partner. 

9. Don’t address them as your ex: 

Do you still have their phone number saved as ‘baby,’ ‘pumpkin,’ or any other form of endearment? It’s time that you change that. 

Don’t consider or introduce them as your ex if you don’t want this new friendship to be a roller coaster ride. Instead, respect your ex-partner/ as an individual human and your new friend. 

Try to learn about them again! I know you guys were in a relationship and know a lot about each other— but after a breakup, 

  • People change, 
  • They discover new mysteries.
  • And may as well have a change of heart & personality. 

So, it’s always good to look for something new and better than to hold onto their previous personality. The truth is, your ex-partner has changed (probably for good), and so have you! Cherish that part of your new friendship. 

10. Prioritize yourself:

You may have made a lot of sacrifices in your relationship with your ex. But now, you are no longer in a cage of each other’s emotions. You can do whatever you like, and the same goes for your partner. Of course, avoid hurting them emotionally or physically, but be your OWN individual without their input. 

11. Don’t expect them to behave like your partner: 

  • Your ex-partner/friend wouldn’t be there to listen to your rant anymore.
  • They won’t treat you with ice cream every time you deal with mood swings. 
  • They are your friends now and won’t be available at every call you send forward. 

Please remember, your ex-partner/friend now has their own life to deal with, which may include their family, friends, and even new partners. So, restrain yourself from calling/needing them every hour— you need to be strong to handle things on your own.

12. Regard them as friends & not friends-with-benefits: 

This is a big ‘No!’ Being friends-with-benefits with your ex will create messy issues. Inevitably, you will be thrown into the same set of emotions and conflicts. 

couple having an intimate moment in the dark

Being friends with benefits doesn’t offer you commitment or even genuine friendship. If you’re not over your ex-partner just yet, you will get envious of their new partner and may ruin your own mental health. 

Be genuine with your friendship, if that is what you want! 

13. Be confident with your decision: 

Well, not many will agree with the option you have chosen, i.e., having a friendship with your ex. People will offer you their own opinion against this modern concept. But, if you and your ex-partner are comfortable, then it’s best not to let others make decisions for you. 

Although “our” people always want the good for us, nobody knows what’s best for you other than your own self. Explain your thoughts but don’t justify yourself.

What boundaries should you set with your ex in a friendship?

1. Don’t plan a duo hangout:  

Once you’re both used to texting and calling, you can plan a get-together, but I highly urge you to invite other mutual friends, as well. It will make the situation lighter and more comfortable for both of you.

2. Encourage yourself to build new memories: 

I know you both have shared a lot of special and fun memories. But recalling them, again and again, will violate your present friendship. Forget mentioning the earlier stuff and start creating more remembrances and relish it.

3. Say ‘no’ to things you are not comfortable with. 

Be selfish to speak when you are not comfortable with the activity your former partner A.K.A friend is asking you to do.

4. Avoid physical intimacy: 

It can be tempting to have sex with your partner again, especially if you both were great in bed with each other. However, physical intimacy will ruin whatever friendship foundation you might have in mind. 

couple making out in the ocean

Relishing temporary desires may make you lose a very special friend. So, please think before you choose to throw it all away, and never forget that you both broke up for a reason.

It was final, and you shouldn’t bend your ways to relive that past again. Let bygones be bygones. 

5. Don’t carry the lousy past with you: 

The more you live in the present, the easier it is to travel into the future. The more baggage you carry from the past, the more suffocating “Right Now” will feel. Every relationship will have its ups and downs— it’s damaging to bring that along with you in this newfound friendship. 

Reasons why people choose to be friends after a breakup

Everything evolves in a most accepting or debating way in this modern world. A trend of being friends after a breakup is getting highly popular. 

There are five major reasons why people may want to be connected even after a breakup:

  1. Ongoing affection: You still admire your ex-partner as an individual, if not as a lover. You value their existence in your life, and thus you choose their friendship, if not a romantic relationship. 
  2. Being parents: Many divorced parents don’t want their children to go through separation anxiety and childhood traumas. So, they choose to stay friends even after a breakup/divorce. 
  3. Sharing resources: When you are business partners, you may let go of the difference and focus on the company.
  4. The same circle of friends: It’s hard to go through a breakup but even harder to let go of your mutual friends. Some ex-partners may decide to stay in the same circle and continue friendship after a breakup to avoid losing friends. 
  5. You don’t feel butterflies: You both didn’t feel the romantic spark, compatibility, or attraction. So, it doesn’t hurt to be friends. 

Takeaway

Scrutinize the situation, then consider whether or not your ex is valuable enough to go through such strong emotions and decisions. If they are toxic, please let them go! You didn’t deserve a toxic partner, and you shouldn’t deal with a toxic friend either. 

They will hinder your privacy, meddle in new relationships, criticize you and your choices, and will most certainly yield negativity. We are a comment away if you need us!

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by Genesis Gutierrez

Genesis is the founder of Harness Magazine, a digital media company that celebrates and elevates the voices of women around the world. A first-generation college graduate, Genesis holds a degree in from UCLA with hopes of going back for a Masters in Social Work.

Through her work as an editor-in-chief of Harness, Genesis has dedicated herself to amplifying the stories of women specifically marginalized communities. She is committed to creating space for those who are often left out of mainstream conversations, and believes that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools we have for building community and sparking social change.


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