An honest guide to staying friends with your ex
Keep your drunk self under control
It can be hard to have a constant reminder of what use to be, but if two people simply were not compatible as lovers that does not mean they won’t be as friends. Once you’ve shared so much of yourself with someone else they become an important part of your life. Rather than lose that part completely, it’s possible to rearrange the space they occupied in your heart. Pack up all the romance into a box, burn it, then move your ex to a spare room in the friendship department.
Have an ex detox
In order for both of you to even consider being friends you need to make sure each of you has had their time and space to move on. Leftover feelings can get in the way and cause unnecessary drama.
Couple’s counselor at the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy, Elly Prior, determined 10 main factors that can affect the length of time it takes individuals to get over a failed relationship. The list includes:
So before anything, give yourself an ex detox. Get rid of all those toxins from the leftover angst with space. This can be difficult if they were a big part of your life and friend circle, but stepping back for a few weeks will help you out in the long run.
Get some closure
As Prior suggests if the break up was messy it can be challenging for people to move on. Some are just not cut out for being friends with an ex. People get out of toxic relationships for a reason and there’s no point returning to that kind of treatment, distrust and pain again.
However, if the break up was a relatively healthy one then the route to friendship is easy – it simply requires a sense of closure, or acceptance of the lack of it. I’ve heard many people say closure is a myth and for the most part it really is. It’s something we use to cuddle and comfort our hurt souls but we need to learn to not rely on it.
Everyone seeks out closure in their own way but the reality is sometimes you just never get it. Stop obsessing over the millions of questions you have about the break up and just let go. Accept what happened and that you may never understand truly why. You don’t need hours of emotional conversation with your ex to feel completely reassured of the break up – because you probably never will.
Time for a clean slate
Everything in your new friendship with your ex has to start over from scratch. You’re both on an even playing field now. Erase all the tabs you kept on each other and make it clear that all mistakes are forgiven and forgotten.
And above all, never mention the break up. The past and all its drama is a dark place that neither of you should be revisiting. Don’t even joke about it. Things like “haha remember when you cheated on me you lying, stupid bastard” won’t go over well.
Stop regretting the things you did or should’ve done during the relationship. You only end up wasting time dwelling over things you can’t change.
Never regret the relationship itself either. It was something you wanted in that moment and even if things didn’t work out, you both have some good memories to look back on and many more to make as friends.
Keep the non-romantic parts of your relationship alive
Find everything you used to enjoy doing or talking about with your ex and continue to do them – minus the romance. Focus on the activities that made your relationship strong and use them to make your friendship even stronger.
Go to the movies and the good restaurants you both loved to spend time in, but as new people in a new relationship. Start conditioning yourself so that when you look back on the memories of those places, you have new ones to appreciate.
Forgive even if you might not forget
Learn to forgive your ex and most importantly yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and relationships can bring out the best and worst in people. Clearly if you two are giving friends a shot that must mean you’re both willing to move past the bad and open a new chapter. You don’t need to make things up to your ex or expect them to be extra nice to you because of their screw ups – all of that should be forgiven.
Welcome their new partners
Kill the jealousy and learn to support and encourage your ex to find someone else in their life. Avoid comparing your ex’s new SO to you or attempting to belittle them. Pettiness is an ugly color on you love.
Be happy for your ex because ultimately you’d want them to be happy for you too. You’ll probably never think their new partner is good enough but you need to get over that protective urge and be supportive. They’re not yours anymore and it’s not up to you who they associate themselves with.
Avoid drunk texting/calling
We all know our drunk selves love to get out of control and do things we normally never would in the right sense of mind. You may feel the need to call your ex and yell about how they didn’t compliment your outfit that one time while you were dating, or call them balling your eyes out and asking for another chance.
Definitely avoid this because any wrong step, even if it’s accidental, could be fatal for your friendship. Friendships with an ex take a lot of hard work and you don’t want to jeopardize it because of a voice mail left at 4am.
It’s important to determine what is appropriate to say or do around one another. Make sure to set the boundaries together so that neither of you feels uncomfortable with the situation. This might mean having some awkward conversations but mutual respect and personal space will go a long way here.
Don’t let them hold you back
This one speaks for itself. Your friendship with an ex should never hold you back from pursuing a relationship with someone else. This is where most people go wrong and why friendships fall apart, or why people advise against being friends with an ex. Just put yourself out there and have fun.
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