Most (amicable) break-ups end in the classic statement ‘let’s stay friends’, something which both of you at the time genuinely mean and want. The hardest part of a break-up for many couples is the thought of losing not only a partner but a friend. Of course after so much time spent together, it’s natural that the two of you have become close and important to one another and it seems odd to cut off all contact with someone you loved. It’s therefore a nice idea in theory but what are the practicalities of staying friends with an ex? What’s more, is it even a good idea to keep this person in your life? We delved deeper into the topic to decipher once and for all: can you stay friends with your ex?
In order to even be able to stay friends with an ex, there are 5 main factors that have to be in place for it to have a chance of working.
1. Can you stay friends with your ex: Did you have space post break-up?
It is important to note that post break up, it’s really essential that you have a solid amount of space from your ex. You will never be able to be friends directly after the split. Time apart is necessary and healing and will enable your relationship to transition from partners to friends. The length of time is entirely up to you and can be dependent on a number of factors. If you try to force friendship too soon, it simply won’t work.
2. Can you stay friends with your ex: Did you get proper closure?
Closure is an essential part to the end of all relationships and it’s almost impossible to move on without it. Whether you or your partner initiates the split, you must ensure that you speak everything through. It’s important that both of you know exactly where you stand and why your relationship has come to an end. It’s fundamental in both your moving on and is a necessity if you genuinely want to try to stay friends. If there is any lack of clarity as to why you split, at least one of you will be confused and potentially incapable of moving on and therefore unable to remain friends.
3. Can you stay friends: Did you have a good relationship?
Let’s be honest, if your relationship was toxic and you ended on terrible terms, it’s certainly not worth trying to salvage a friendship. Either you both despise each other or one person was left extremely hurt which is likely to cause lasting damage. Sadly even if you really love each other, some couples just don’t work and it can cause such huge upset that it’s simply not worth even trying for a friendship. Save your energy for someone else. However if your relationship was good, chances of a blossoming friendship are high. If you’re serious about making it work, it’s probably also more likely to be possible if you split up on mutual terms. Agreeing that your relationship needed to come to an end – perhaps because over time you both fell out of love with each other – makes it a lot easier for you to attempt a friendship in the future.
4. Can you stay friends with your ex: Have you moved on?
Unsurprisingly, you can only be friends with your ex if you have both moved on. Not necessarily with somebody new (though it helps) but certainly in terms of your relationship. Make sure you have honest intentions with your friendship – if you know you still have feelings towards them, don’t try to be their friend yet because you will have the wrong agenda, whether you admit it or not. Moving on includes being happy for your ex in their new relationship and feeling no jealousy towards them. If you have no ulterior motive and are genuinely happy that they have moved on, then you can stay friends with your ex.
5. Can you stay friends with your ex: Were you friends first?
Many studies have indicated that being friends prior to romantic involvement increases the chances of you being able to retain a friendship post split. After all, you know how to be friends with each other and therefore it doesn’t seem like such unfamiliar territory. It also explains your reasoning for at least trying to make the friendship work – many friends are apprehensive about getting together for fear of losing each other altogether. Because if you just had the relationship and then broke up, why would you stay friends?
If you just had the relationship and then broke up, why would you stay friends?
This is perhaps ultimately what this whole article comes down to. Many people who split with their partner simply have no interest in staying friends. Why? Honestly, it requires a lot of effort and you have to be really committed to just accepting the friendship element without the romantic aspect which totally changes the relationship you’re used to. There are plenty of people who are able to stay ‘friendly’ with their ex – engaging in small talk when they bump into each other at an event without any hard feelings – but this is not friendship.
At the end of the day, each situation is individual and it’s up to you personally whether you really want a friendship with your ex. The people you choose to surround yourself with are important as you are partially a product of them. If you feel like your ex made you a better person and brought out the best in you, it’s worth you at least trying to make the friendship work. However most of the time, people find after a break-up the best way for them to move forward, is to leave their ex in the past.