Can you be friends with your ex?
Can you be friends with your ex? This is a question that people have many conflicting opinions on. If you have children together, it is to your benefit to be friends with this person at least have an amicable relationship with them. However, if you have no familial ties to your ex then you do not have an obligation to remain friends with them. I think the most challenging thing when trying to remain friends with your ex is seeing that the relationship is different from when you were together.
I believe some space is required for this to be possible. If you try to be friends right away you’ll be reminded of memories of you two going on dates or romantic getaways. Once you break up, try not to reach out to your ex for as long as humanly possible. This allows you time to heal from the break up and you don’t continually aggravate the wound. This can be challenging but it is for your benefit. The tricky thing is what if they reach out to you? It’s up to you to set the boundary and say “I need some space right now.” If you don’t do this then you’ll end up in a gray area and confuse what is going on in the relationship. Are you together or not? Once you’ve had some space from each other (maybe a month or so) it’s reasonable to go out to dinner and reevaluate, but not when you first breakup; the wound is too fresh.
You need to be able to let go and realize that you don’t have control over whether or not this relationship remains in your life
. Remember that if it does, the nature of the dynamic between you two will change dramatically. You need to have time to see yourself as separate from this person and be okay with them dating someone else, which can be hard.
It is complicated when you have children together. You have to be in contact with this person frequently and that can be triggering. In this case (if you want to remain separate from this person) stick to communicating exclusively about the children and nothing else. If you find yourself getting into an emotionally charged conversation, disengage and set that boundary with them.
I do believe it’s possible to be friends with your ex, but it requires a lot of emotional strength. It can be a slippery slope if you become physically intimate with the person after you decide to break up. The friends with benefits relationship (in my opinion) is hard to maintain. Inevitably you’ll start to develop romantic feelings for this person and then see them as you your partner.
I don’t think it’s impossible to be friends with your ex, but I do think that it’s extremely challenging. We all want to be loved and when you know that there is the possibility to be loved by this person that you used to be loved by, it can be confusing.
Another thing is that you both need to be on the same page. If one of you wants to get back together and the other doesn’t, being friends is not going to work. I have been on both sides of this equation and neither side is pleasant.
If you truly want to be friends with your ex, remember that that takes time. Be patient and be determined to make this relationship work.