How To Be Friends With An Ex

Breaking up is hard to do. Many people try to avoid the pain of that sudden break by promising to stay friends with your ex and trying to maintain some connection. Others may lament the loss of someone who meant so much at one time and try to adapt that relationship by forming a lasting friendship after the break up. However, maintaining a friendship with someone for whom you once had such strong feelings can be harder than breaking up. If you want to stay friends with an ex, there are several things you will need to do:

How to be friends with an ex

staying friends with your ex can be very difficult

To be friends with an ex, consider why you want to be friends
Start by evaluating your motivations. Why do you want to stay friends with your ex? Perhaps you have unresolved guilt about how you behaved as a partner and you want to make amends. Maybe you were the one who ended the relationship and you want to soften the blow by continuing some type of contact. If these are the kinds of reasons motivating you to pursue the friendship, then you should make a clean break. Friendships founded on these reasons will not last, and the end of the relationship will be harder than the break up. For friendship help and advice click on the link.

To stay friends with your ex you must keep it 'friendly'
If you still have any unresolved feelings for your ex - or your ex for you - then your friendship will not be able to move forward. You will simply be prolonging your breakup and holding each other back from moving on. Make sure you've given both of you time to let your romantic feelings go, then focus on keeping the relationship platonic. Don't continue to have romantic relations, and don't engage in romantic behavior like flirting or discussing your feelings for one another. 

To be friends with an ex, redefine the relationship
It is easy to fall into old patterns. If you're going to be friends with your ex, you have to redefine the relationship. You can't expect to have the same rights, such as knowing the other's whereabouts, or being present at functions with family or friends, or expecting the other person to perform certain favors. You may not be able to talk about some of the things you used to talk about, as you may not enjoy the same level of intimacy. Understanding that a friendship will impose more emotional distance than a romantic relationship will help you to create a new, successful relationship.

To be friends with an ex, don't rehash the past
You have broken up, and the past is behind you. Don't use your new friendship as an opportunity to continue to work out past grievances, or even to reminisce about fond memories. Don't spend time talking about things that happened while you were a couple, bringing up past complaints, or trying to work out your lingering anger over past problems. If these issues are not resolved enough to move past them, you aren't ready to establish a friendship.

To be friends with an ex, be prepared to face a new romance
Finally, you should be prepared to accept the fact that your new "friend" will eventually start dating someone else, and will one day fall in love with someone else. Accept that you will at some time have to (at least) have a superficial conversation about your former love interest's new love interest. You don't have to be your new friend's confidante and offer love advice, but you should be able to have casual conversation about the new relationship.

Conclusion: how to be friends with an ex
Learning to become friends with an ex will take some time. You have to give yourself enough distance to get over your former romantic feelings and to move past the problems that caused your break up in the first place. Once you have done that, you should be prepared to redefine the relationship on platonic terms. With time and effort, you could find a satisfying friendship to replace the once happy relationship you shared.

About the author:
Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for She has a Bachelor's degrees from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on college grants and student grants for adults.


Judy SheldonWalker January 7, 2012 at 10:12 PM  

Good advice. It is hard to maintain contact with someone if there are unresolved, deep hurtful issues.

Anne Lyken-Garner is a published author, editor and freelance writer. Her specialities include relationships and confidence building. You can find her inspirational memoir here.
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