Yes, it’s possible: Here’s how to stay friends with your exes
Don’t be That Couple
Personally, I do not condone remaining friends with an ex but occasionally you have no other choice unless you're willing to risk losing all your friends along with them. Maybe you've been dating since high school, maybe your sorority and his frat mixed in college, or maybe your post-college lives are just so deeply intertwined there's no real way to cut ties without committing social suicide. You've accepted the fact you're going to see them out, and you've decided it's better than isolation, but you know it's going to be hard.
Here are some tips for faking that smile so all your other friends don't stop inviting you two out:
Decide you are NEVER going to hook up with them again
If you're going to remain friends with your ex, there will be dinner parties, bar hopping, birthday parties — basically tons of events that involve booze and a lot of it. With booze comes risky decisions, a loss of command over your emotions, and the desire to hookup with anyone and everyone within a ten foot radius. But there are a lot of people in the world, and the one person you choose to hookup up with cannot be your ex. Of course it's tempting. You have a shared history, and you get to sidestep all the awkwardness that comes with a first hookup because you've presumably had a lot of sex in the past. But down one more shot and muster up the the courage to lay eyes on someone else. Once you hookup with an ex, there is nothing stopping you from doing it again…and again. Eventually, this will cause issues and your friends will start to get annoyed, which is exactly what you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Do not try and make them jealous, I beg of you
Even if you've promised yourself you will not hookup with them again, and even if you've held true to that promise so far, it is a basic human instinct to want to make your ex jealous. Even if you're the one who broke up with them or if you're pretty sure you've experienced the ick, there's something that feels so good about knowing they still want you. But if you decide to play with fire you will get burned. Jealousy is a very powerful thing — often more powerful than a breakup in the first place.
Skip all the flirting with your other mutual friends, and don't go out with the intention of making out with someone in front of them. Not only will all your friends perceive it as childish, but it will sabotage any form of friendship (fake or not) you've managed to curate in the first place.
Maintain at least some distance
There is a huge difference between being friends with your ex and being best friends with your ex. The first is possible if painful, the second is an absolutely horrible idea. Maintaining some distance means knowing when to go home — after the first or second bar, not after the third or fourth. It means hanging out with them when you're in groups but avoiding hangs smaller than three or four friends. And most importantly, it means avoiding flirting. Close friendships are nice but they often slip into more. I know you're thinking it's fine because you're not actually hooking up, but flirting if just as bad (if not worse) because it requires thought, feeling, and intent.
Remember there is no reason to text them – ever
If you need to know where your friends are meeting up or if you need a ride, you can find out this information from literally anyone else. Even if you've convinced yourself it's innocent, somewhere deep down you are choosing to message them because you want to hear from them. You want your name to light up on their screen in the hopes they'll see it and miss you and change their mind but I promise you it will only come off as desperate. Text one of your girlfriends if you actually have a question, which I have an feeling you don't.
Try not to be passive aggressive because it's obvious
The flip side of wanting to hook up with an ex is wanting to be passive aggressive to them. They're buying a round of drinks and you tell them you'll by your own, or they're having pre-drinks at theirs and you tell them you'd rather meet everyone out. Being passive aggressive is almost worse than just choosing not to be friends in the first place because it's even more annoying to everyone around you. It's brings an unnecessary tension into every room, and eventually people are going to decide they don't want it around. You don't have to be nice-nice, but being cordial is a happy middle ground. Accept things when they are being offered to the group as a whole, and don't go out of your way to be sassy. It's not sly.
Move on for you, not for them
If you and your ex remain in a similar friend group or similar circles, eventually the thing you've been worried about happening will happen. They will meet someone else, or hook up with someone else, and you will eventually hear about it. It may even be in front of you, or maybe your friends will try and keep it under wraps, but it will come out over drinks. This will probably encourage you to start looking around as well, even if you aren't ready. You'll want to prove to yourself and to them that you are just as over the whole thing, but if you actually aren't ready, this will send you into a spiral. You'll end up resenting the person you start seeing, and when you inevitable breakup you'll have to go through missing your ex all over again.
Do not re-open this wound. Move on when you are ready, and only when you are ready. They do not need to and do not deserve to know anything about your love life or lack thereof. That's for you.
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