The topic of whether you can be friends with an ex is usually a debated one. While some people believe it is possible, others think its inappropriate or unrealistic. But is it really possible to have a genuine friendship with an ex? And if so, is it possible to maintain that friendship without it affecting your future relationships?
Well, a person’s ability to have a genuine, platonic friendship with an ex is based on 6 intertwined factors:
1. Maturity Level
You’re more likely to be able to maintain a friendship with an ex if both of you are mature. Maturity in this respect is accepting the outcome of the relationship, not harboring any negative feelings, genuinely wanting the best for an ex (even if it means not being together), and not treating each other poorly because of residual negative feelings from the break up. If an ex isn’t mature in these aspects and doesn’t continue to respect you, there’s no way a friendship could possibly work.
2. Feelings About The Break Up
If either person is harboring any negative feelings about the relationship or breakup, they won’t be capable of sustaining a friendship. Those lingering negative feelings after a breakup will spill into the friendship in some way. Your ex might have an attitude with you out of nowhere, do something that seems vengeful, or even make you feel bad about yourself simply because they are still angry about breaking up. Whatever snarky things an ex may do will prevent a friendship from ever working.
3. Desire To Get Back Together
This is a huge determining factor in whether a genuine friendship with an ex can work. Although some people will tell you that a relationship ended mutually, few breakups are ever mutual. The truth is, when there’s a breakup, one person always wishes the relationship didn’t end. No matter how convincing your ex was when he or she amicably agreed to breakup, you better believe that your ex would have preferred to stay together.
When you’re friends with an ex who wants you back, your ex might try to sabotage your dating efforts or future relationships. In this case, there’s no way you can maintain a genuine friendship. However, if an ex is mature enough to recognize that the relationship cannot be revived, embraces other options, doesn’t let residual feelings negatively affect the friendship and your future relationships with other people, there’s hope for a real friendship to blossom.
It is very common for the person who is broken up with to be jealous of their ex’s new dates or love interests. This jealousy could manifest itself in many different ways. A jealous ex might act angry, frustrated, or annoyed with you, question your whereabouts, try to sabotage your relationships, or intentionally give you bad dating advice. A lack of jealousy is imperative for a friendship to work with an ex.
5. Stuck In Your Relationship Ways
If you try to be friends with an ex immediately after breaking up it’s extremely difficult to hang out without acting like a couple. After all, you did just spend the past several months or years together so it’s understandable that you’re accustomed to acting a certain way with each other. Unfortunately, things like your old lovey-dovey or touchy-feely ways can get in the way. You may have loved running your fingers through your exes hair, but if you can’t stop doing it after the breakup, you simply just can’t be friends.
6. Friends With Benefits
It should go without saying, but if you become “friends with benefits” with an ex, a genuine, platonic friendship is out of the question. Continuing to have sex after the breakup blurs the lines in more ways than one. If you try to have a friendship with your ex, but keep having sex you essentially enter a situation that resembles your relationship without the official title.
And if one person is still eager to be back in the relationship, it’s only a matter of time before the question, “what are we really doing” comes up. Lets face it, someone is going to seriously wonder why there was a breakup at all.
So, if both people are mature, don’t harbor negative feelings about the breakup, don’t want to get back together, don’t start a “friends with benefits” situation, and respect each others future relationships, then a genuine friendship may just work out!
Here’s the kicker though, what happens if your next boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t comfortable with the friendship you have with your ex? What if it’s your husband or wife that has an issue with the friendship? Are you willing to end a friendship with an ex if your current partner is bothered by it? Let me know what you think in the comments!
For more great dating advice, get my book: Picking up the Pieces: Rebuilding Yourself for the Love and Relationship You Deserve.
Till Next Time,