Stream of consciousness time…
I like to think that with each relationship, I learn something new. That goes double when the relationship ends. Since I turned 18, I’ve only had two relationships that were fairly long term at three years and a year and a half. Both relationships were incredibly different and I really became a different person because of each. I learned something new with each. With the ending of the first one, despite my initial begging not to end things, I knew that I didn’t want to be friends with him. Things were toxic and unhealthy. In retrospect, I can’t believe that we stayed together for so long. And then there was my most recent ex, Tim. Tim taught me how I deserved to be treated and that seeing someone once every 5 months was not enough. I needed more. I needed a partner to go on adventures with. Someone who didn’t make me give up a part of myself. With him, even when things ended, I still wanted him to be a part of my life.
So, can you be friends with your ex?
Yes and no. In my experience, it is nearly impossible to be friends after a romantic relationship ends in an explosive way. When things get ugly, it is best to just walk away. When things don’t explode in your face, you can try.
Being friends with your ex is balancing act and relies almost entirely on good communication. You need to be more honest now than you were when you were dating. You need to make sure that you are both on the same page. You have to both want to be friends.
If only one of you wants it, give the other one some space. You can not force being friends after having been in a romantic relationship. If they want you back in their life, they’ll let you know. If they do, listen to what they have to say and set boundaries where needed. Your relationship has changed so the rules have changed. If you are a very affectionate person, like myself, and your ex isn’t like that make sure you know what they’re boundaries are. If you keep up a physical relationship, make sure that you can both mentally handle it. Like I said, this is a balancing act.
Along with redefining your relationship, you have to come to terms with your break up and moving forward. A word of advice, give both of you some time apart so you can cope with the break up. When you both feel ready, then you can work on your friendship. Working on that may also mean working on letting go and you have to be able to do that.
When I say letting go, I mean being able to see your ex with another person. If they sleep with someone else or start dating, is that going to destroy you? If so, being friends probably won’t work and you shouldn’t force it. Let yourself feel angry or sad or however you need to feel.
So can you be friends with your ex?
Sure. You just need to work together and learn about yourselves as individuals. It is a work in progress.