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Can You Really Be Friends With an Ex?

When a long-term relationship ends, you not only lose a partner, you also lose one of your best friends. It’s no wonder why many couples try to stay friends post-breakup. But is it really possible to stay friends with an ex? Every relationship is different. What comes naturally to some may be very painful for others. Consider the following questions when you’re decided whether to save the friendship or walk away.

When to save the friendship…

Were you friends before?

The first factor in determining whether there’s a future for your friendship is whether you were friends before you became romantic. If you have a long history with this person that dates back years before your first kiss, there’s a friendship that can be saved. You already know how to be together without “being together”, it might just take some time apart to get back to that point. If you began dating the moment you met, however, then you were never really friends to begin with.

Do you have friends in common?

If you’re both part of a close group of friends, it might be impossible to not stay friends after the breakup, unless you want to lose the rest of your friends, as well. This happens all the time on shows like How I Met Your Mother, and Friends, and while it may be weird for a while, it’s worth the effort. Don’t make your other friends choose between the two of you.

Did your relationship end on good terms?

Some couples simply work better as friends than they do as a couple. If your breakup was the result of a mutual decision with no hard feelings, then a future friendship might be possible. If, however, one or both partners did something to cause the breakup – like cheating or lying – there may be too many hurt feelings to salvage anything afterward.

When to walk away…

Do either of you still have feelings for each other?

Even after a bad breakup, it’s hard to shut off your feelings for each other. But it’s impossible to be only friends with someone when either (or both) of you still has romantic feelings. Not only does it make for one complicated friendship, but it can also be incredibly painful and lead to a confusing on-again-off-again relationship.

Have you become friends with benefits?

When you’re hanging out with your ex a lot, it’s all too easy for your friendship to slip back into a physical relationship. This is one of the biggest signs that you and your ex aren’t meant to be friends. After all, friends don’t kiss. This kind of relationship is incredibly confusing, and can lead to a lot of painful feelings. As well, if you’re still hanging on to the sexual aspect of your relationship, it will only take you longer to move on from your breakup.

Are you in a new relationship?

You owe it to your new boyfriend or girlfriend to start your relationship with a clean slate. If you’re still friends with your ex, your new partner might (understandably) become uncomfortable, and it could ultimately destroy your relationship. Keep the lines of communication open, and put yourself in their shoes.

Remember, relationships are complicated. If you’re determined to stay friends with your ex, it’s important to realize that it will take time. Although it might save you the pain of losing them altogether, it probably won’t be easy. Follow your head, not your heart. And when in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and walk away from the friendship.

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