Stop Believing You Can’t Be Friends With Your Ex

Twenty20 / NickBulanovv
Twenty20 / NickBulanovv

Let me start by saying I am great friends with my ex and I remained good friends with many of my past ex-boyfriends before we eventually drifted apart—just as friends do sometimes, no matter what the gender.

So of course it takes people by shock when they find out he and I are texting or the fact that we are work out partners or the fact that we still take day trips with each other. You have no idea how many times I have heard, “You can’t be friends with your ex,” or “When are you two getting back together,” and it really just isn’t like that.

Women look for a man to be dependable, kind, be able to make them laugh and be able to teach them something…last I checked, those are all great qualities and qualities any average person would love to have in a friend.

Plus how often do people say, their partner is not only their husband, wife, partner, etc., but they are also their best friend.

However when deciding to remain friends with your ex-partner, you have to do it for the right reasons. It shouldn’t be because you are worried about them, you’re hoping to hop in the sack or because you want to be the bigger or better person.

You shouldn’t do it because you know his great Aunt Bess loves you or you were supposed to teach his mom how to make your signature pumpkin pie.

It shouldn’t be because you are looking for the same sort of comfort that you once received when you were coupled up.

When it comes to your life and who you have relationships with, you need to keep in mind, it has to be about you. Let me get this clear. Yes, you have to be selfish sometimes.

You shouldn’t stay close because you feel like you have to. You should stay close because you want to and because you feel comfortable doing so.

Also, honesty is the best policy. Not with just him, but also with yourself. You need to be able to honestly say, “yes, I am comfortable,” or “no, I can’t do this.”

First things first…

Are you really over it?

I don’t know…are you? You know you better than anyone else.

Don’t try to convince yourself you are. After a break up a couple years back, I convinced myself I was okay to start a new relationship and truthfully I wasn’t. So I started dating a new guy…he was nice, kind, sweet, we had good conversation, he was an overall fabulous partner…just not the right one at that time.

I would think about my ex and that wasn’t fair to them new guy. He was growing interested and I … I just wasn’t into him like that. Anxiety built up inside me. I knew he wasn’t what I wanted, I knew it would hurt him and the cloud of “you need to break up with him,” loomed overhead.

I didn’t need that stress…if only I was honest with myself. And he didn’t deserve to be put in that position.

Take your time. There is no expiration date saying you need to be over him by any exact date.

That leads me to my next point…

Are they over you?

If you can clearly tell that they aren’t over you, don’t torture them. That’s not something a friend would do. I true friend wouldn’t do something that they knew hurt you.

As your “friend” do they act different around you? Or are they still treating this as your relationship? If they are still treating this as your relationship, meaning huggy, snuggly, holding handsy, it may not be the best time to be friends.

Also, are they rude? You don’t need that negativity in your life.

I think if you are going to try to be friends, you need to be honest with each other. You need to communicate—maybe better than you did during your relationship. If you feel like things are about to get emotional, mention it. Hopefully, they won’t be weirded out and you can have a laugh over it. Hopefully they are mature enough to know where you are coming from.

So now that we have established that the whole friends thing may not work out if there are still feelings, what are some other things that I should consider?

Can I be friends with my ex if I feel like we can talk about anything?

Yes and when you say anything you have to mean anything. Whether it’s new partners, how “mom” is fairing without your pumpkin recipe or something as gross as their toe fungus.

If you feel like you are walking on eggshells, it’s not going to work. Friends are people you can talk about anything to and they will still support you. True friends will give you their honest opinion. If that’s not something you are able to do, take a step back. You shouldn’t feel like you need say a certain thing or agree with every opinion they have. Would you really want one of your gal pals to do that?

You cannot be friends if you feel the need to hide things from them. If you start talking to a new potential partner, you would share that with your chickas…so why wouldn’t you share it with this friend?

That also leads to you shouldn’t feel obligated to ask about their new partner just to prove that you are over them. If you want to ask because you are looking out for them or because you are excited for them, go for it. But if in your mind you are asking and cringing at the same time, then again, this is not going to work out.

Plus, you wouldn’t want that cringe to accidentally come out in person…on your face…for him to see.

Am I allowed to hold a grudge against them from our relationship? I would avoid being friends with your ex if you think you will hold something against them.

Just because you were able to forgive them, doesn’t mean you forgot that terrible thing they may have done.

If you are still bitter about an argument, if you are still angry that they didn’t get you anything on Valentine’s Day, if you are not over the fact that they never asked you to move in with them, I wouldn’t recommend being their friend—at least not now.

I hate it when friends I have had since high school say, “Remember that time I came and helped you do…” or “Remember when I did this at your house?” Yes I remember, but it doesn’t mean that you need to bring it up all the time. I don’t want to hear it as a friend and he certainly doesn’t want to hear his past brought back up either.

Sometimes, the past needs to stay in the past. Don’t harp over the past, there is a beautiful future just ahead.

Will our breakup affect whether we can stay friends?

Indeed it will. If you broke up mutually and there are no hard feelings, it could work.

If you were high school sweethearts but drifted apart after getting into different colleges, give it a whirl. If you were offered a job across the country and then years later came back, why not be friends?

However, if it was a rough break up, you need to consider that as well. Were things stolen? Lawsuits made? Personal items toss? Rumors started? Those are things you need to weigh individually before you make a decision.

You should avoid remaining in relationships which are toxic. I’ve had friends which boyfriends made snide remarks or said what they shouldn’t eat “for health reasons” and it hurt me to see them in that type of relationship.

If you know they were a toxic partner, what makes you think that they would be a good friend? Would you want to see your friend in that sort of relationship?

If there was any sort of abuse, stay away. You need to protect yourself. You need to be the most important thing in your life sometimes.

Overall…is it likely to be a good friendship?

According to Psychology Today in an article by Juliana Breiness, “Research suggests, however, that on average exes tend to have lower-quality friendships than opposite-sex friends who were never romantically involved.”

She also goes to say, “They are less emotionally supportive, less helpful, less trusting, and less concerned about the other person’s happiness. This is especially true, not surprisingly, for former partners who were dissatisfied with the romantic relationship, and in cases when the break-up was not mutual.”

What each of us qualifies as a good friendship is different.

If you are having a hard time deciphering if you think he is a quality friend or not, the answer is probably no. You shouldn’t have to think about it. That’s something you should just know.

But if you do think you can make it work even though you are questioning the quality, make a pro con list. That should help you sort it out.

I feel as if a genuine friend is there for you through thick and thin….is your ex there for you through thick and thin now?

What do you two do together?

Friends should be able to do anything with each other.

Can you watch a movie without it getting tense or awkward? Can you continue working out with each other? Can you go shopping together? Are they still there to support you at events? Are they still there to support you with a tough diagnosis?

“A real friend stays present in the moment by paying attention to your needs along with theirs,” said Robert Rowney, D.O., a certified psychiatrist and the director of the Cleveland Clinic mood disorder unit in an interview with the Huffington Post.

The bottom line here is you have to treat them as you would your bestie and do the things you would do with your bestie.

So… how can you get to a good friendship with your ex?


And as I stated before, communication is key.

Don’t say what you think they want to hear. Say what you want to say.

Otherwise, I feel like it is something that just happens. It is something that you cannot force…just as any other friendship.

My final thoughts

Yes you were attracted to them physically at one point and yes it’s okay to still be physically attracted to them. It’s not like they are going to turn into a hideous, unattractive monster after you two break up. That’s not necessarily something they can change.

Don’t wonder what the relationship could have been. The past is the past and sometimes you need to keep it that way. Don’t let him hold you back—especially now that you two aren’t even together.

Just about everything in your life should be about what makes you happy, not about pleasing other people. Sometimes you need to be selfish, especially when it comes to your future.

And just one final thing to keep in mind, you can be friendly without being friends. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post originally appeared at Attract The One.

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