Signs You Can Still Be Friends With Your Ex
So Can You Be friends?
Short answer: yes, absolutely even.
Longer answer: well, it’s likely going to be complicated…
A lot of people will want a clean break after cutting ties with their former lover. If they don’t seem interested in having a friendship with you, I recommend not bothering them for… a lengthy amount of time. Space helps people to heal, space allows for change, and it’s a general guideline to not contact your ex for at least one month. That’ll give them time to refresh their brain, see new people, and move on from the absolutely romantic, intense, and fabulous connection you used to have together (if that was the case). Sometimes it’s too complicated and taxing to be friends with an ex.
Lots of people do end up being friends with their ex. You can actually break up on positive terms, especially if the romance didn’t last long to begin with. You may decide that you are better as friends than as romantic partners.
People don’t have to be removed from your life. If your heart is hurting, it is best to step away from your ex until you’ve got your crap together. Don’t add insult to injury.
Signs You Can Be Friends With Your Ex
- You’re not ending things on bad terms. It just wasn’t a good match.
- It never was that serious.
- You’re not dramatic people. You’re both pretty chill.
- You have certain things in common that will cause you to be around each other whether kids, hobbies, friends, etc.
- You don’t cry when you see them.
- When you’re around each other, it doesn’t feel awkward. You’re not nervous… you’re not out of your comfort zone.
- It feels natural to be friends.
- You have a mostly positive shared history.
- You could care less if they started dating other people.
- You don’t feel distracted by them.
- Cheating wasn’t involved in the relationship.
Have you ever been friends with an ex?
Be Cognizant of Feelings
If you stay friends right after a breakup, don’t be surprised if there are residual feelings. If you don’t have a clean breakup or give yourself a chance to move on, you could end up pining for the person all over again. The same thing goes for the person you broke up with. They might still desire your touch and your company.
Sometimes it takes a few tries to officially end a relationship. Your natural chemistry with each other can make it hard to separate, the plunge into singleness can be scary, and people gravitate toward the familiar.
Make sure no matter what the circumstances that you communicate. If your communication skills are poor and you can’t deal with it, you’ll find yourself opting for the “ghosting” option. Which isn’t preferred, but who are we kidding? It is still an option.
Personally, I think it’s better to stop communicating if you can’t figure out some kind of common ground together, whether that’s moving toward a friendship or navigating your social circle.
Be open about where you stand. If you’re going to be friends, don’t be afraid to say where you really stand. You might have to put yourself out there all over again if you end up still liking the person, which yes, occasionally people get back together.
Again, people like the idea of what is familiar, and exes tend to be an alluring kind of familiar. Just about everyone has at least one ex (or 15 of them) that they wouldn’t mind trying to date again. They may have new insight into what happened. And of course, there are a number of books and websites dedicated to winning back the ex… romantically, of course. Not generally winning them back to be a friend.
Also, beware that after a breakup, the other person may not want to be around you at all. The way things ended might have hurt more for them than you.
Some people want to get their feelings under control and let time heal them before having to see someone they dated in the past. Respect the person for this. Don’t bother them with lots of texts or phone calls. They may really need some space. Likely if you had a strong friendship before the romantic relationship (or a strong friendship during the relationship) they’ll likely come back into your life.
But honestly, don’t worry about it too much. Keep making new friends! People are going to come in and out of your life. There will be a few who will be there through thick and thin, but people grow and change.
You will make your ex feel better if you aren’t clingy after the breakup. Let them breathe. Try not to be awkward when you run into them at a party. Be chill. You’ve got this. You are capable of being cool during anxious scenarios.
Know What You Want
If being friends with your ex prevents you from dating new people, you might be spending too much time with your ex.
- Do you really want them to be your ex?
- Do you want to date someone else?
- Would you like to be single?
An ex shouldn’t hold you back. Be honest with yourself: figure out how you can move on from your past so that you can have the life you deserve. You may want to separate from them for your sanity and to go after other personal goals.
A good ex doesn’t need to know you in the way they used to; they’re comfortable with muted details. They have resolved that part of their life and have moved on. They don’t need constant updates about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. That is not their responsibility! If you continue to tell them constantly in detail about your daily life — you’re treating your ex more like your girlfriend/boyfriend/unicorn. So don’t do that.
Make it clear in your mind what label this person has in your life. If you don’t give yourself clarity, things will go terrible when one of you officially moves on to a new person. Get the breakup stuff right and as quick as possible.
A Few Weeks After the Breakup
Typically at this point, your ex doesn’t need to know you in the intimate way they used to. You should be going after the passions you may have neglected while paired up with them. Don’t tell them every single thing you do or idea that crosses your brain.
- Focus: Know what you want out of your life.
- Don’t thrust yourself into dating until you are ready.
- Make sure you are processing your own emotions.
- You must confront yourself daily. Don’t avoid or bury how you feel.
Following these steps will help you to get on the right pathway to a successful, healthy, and happy relationship. You don’t have to date anyone. But when/if you do — you need to be emotionally ready. It can be catastrophic when you put yourself into the dating scene, and you’re not ready. This will make you more awkward, anxious, and altogether… you’ll have poor judgment.
Seeing Other People
Don’t be too upset when your ex is seeing someone new… especially before you do. It’s not a game. Let me repeat that… it is not a game!
Love takes its own time with each person. Don’t act like you were a better significant other than their new partner. Jealously will ruin your friendship, and it will make you come off crazy. If you’re having jealousy issues because you still have feelings for the person, try to find a way that you can reasonably communicate that. And if you can’t communicate it for whatever variables — hide it.
You can talk about your jealousy with somebody else, your ex probably doesn’t need to hear it. If you’re jealous because they ended up finding someone before you did, check yourself. Your jealously has less to do with them and more to do with you. You don’t need to be jealous. Especially if you’re not actually interested in your ex. Plus, that kind of jealousy and expressing it could be awkward, painful, and selfish.
Don’t date everyone in the village after a breakup. It’s up to you when you’ll be pursuing your own interests, dating someone, or doing absolutely nothing. Dating everyone makes it seem like you’re trying too hard to get over your ex, and you’re using everyone who is available to you as rebounds.
Try to meditate and focus on calming down before going on dates. Having a couple of rebounds is perfectly normal, but those rebounds often don’t pan out and can invite unwanted activity into your life.
Don’t waste your time on somebody or use them to only overcome your emotional hurts — you can be more mature.
Now is the perfect time to see if you have developed any peculiar habits and to focus on eliminating those oddities.
Do You Really Want a Friendship?
Ask yourself if you really want a friendship with the person. Is it worth your time or energy? Friendships are an important part of your life. You don’t have to have a friendship with someone just to be polite. Try to end on a good note, but you are not required to be friends with anyone.
If you don’t want to be friends with someone — don’t waste your time on it. You can be friendly to anyone, but that doesn’t mean you’re trying to develop a close friendship. You are not required to be friends with your ex-romantic partner just for the sake of being friends. You get to decide whether this person was sweet enough that you still want them hanging out with your group of kindred spirits.
You can definitely pose the question of whether you should stay friends and what you would like to see from that. Let your ex know if you want them to be your friend and to what degree. They may think you’re super cool if you do this in a personal way. Let them know they can change their mind on the friendship and leave at any point if they feel uncomfortable or unready to hang out with you.
The friendships in your life will help you find yourself. The people you align with probably have similar interests or needs. Try finding people you really jive with, and if it includes your ex — cool.
What IF My Ex Dates a Close Friend of Mine?
I hope that the unthinkable won’t happen to you! But this actually happens a lot… sorry.
Sometimes if an ex stays with the same friend group, that person ends up finding a connection with one of your friends. A lot of people refuse to date those that their friends did. Don’t be surprised, however, if it happens.
Your friend likely has similar qualities to you and your ex probably has a type that they date. It’s not uncommon that people daydream about which of their partner’s friends they would date.
Don’t get bent out of shape if this happens. Things will cool over for you. You may have mood swings, jealousy, and the likes. Try not to put too much pressure on the new couple. Take a walk and know that even if you have to walk away from two friends, you’ll be okay and new people will come into your life.
I know it’s annoying, but it is normal for an ex to date a friend and make things more complicated. What a jerk, right?
- Try to stay out of it.
- Keep your opinions around them to a minimum.
- Try not to give judgmental glances.
- Try to go with the flow of it. This is a sucky situation, but you have the ability to make it worse or better.
- Act like you’re not bothered by it.
- Don’t add to the drama. Honestly, adding to the drama could excite them… and in a sick way, bring them closer together.
What If I Change My Mind, and I Don’t Want to be Friends Anymore?
Be honest with yourself first. You’re not required to be friends with anyone. If your ex annoys you and things don’t seem to be improving, then drop them.
Often things with friends fizzle out anyway. If they’re texting you too much — tell them to slow down. Tell them you need space. You don’t owe it to them to give them undivided attention. It’s perfectly reasonable at this point to let go, and by you letting go more — it will help them.
Some people cling to their exes because they don’t want to accept reality. If you keep communicating with them, you’re not helping them to get over you. Lots of people are mature and move on just fine, but some don’t have the finer social skills of letting things end.
If you still want to be friends with them encourage them to see you, but not all the time. Seinfeld and Elaine are the perfect TV example of a couple that broke up and remained friends. They didn’t have lingering romantic feelings, they moved on with their lives, and they enjoyed each other's company. Ideally, you can both see new people with ease, and it doesn’t cause jealousy.
Friends Before, Friends After
If you were friends before you dated, you can try being friends after. Sometimes romance can take the punch out of a good friendship, whether permanently or temporarily.
It’s okay if your friendship doesn’t resemble what it looked like when it started. Friendships do change, sometimes for the better.
Friendships aren’t guaranteed to last forever. As you grow as an individual, your interests will change and so will your friends.
© 2015 Andrea Lawrence