In theory, it’s possible to stay friendly with your ex and, in some cases, it’s very reasonable – after all, if he or she was someone that you have a lot in common with, have shared different experiences with and hold the same values, why not? If you have children together, it can be especially beneficial as it helps with the flow of information and when you’re managing your different schedules (in theory at least).
But whether it actually works in practice is another thing altogether because sometimes it can make it harder to successfully put that relationship behind you if one of you starts dating other people. In an ideal world, if it’s what you both want, you’ll both find new partners and everyone will get on really well, even holidaying together and spending birthdays and Christmases together in some cases.
So this is when it can work:
- You’ve both accepted that the relationship is well and truly over.
- You both understand why you broke up.
- Your relationship with one another is no longer full of emotion – it feels similar to your other friendships.
- You can both handle appropriate boundaries and, more importantly, manage any nostalgic feelings that might come up without getting any deeper than that.
- You’re both comfortable and happy dating other people and it’s what you want for one another.
But, maybe it’s time to cut ties if:
- One of you is still secretly hoping you’ll get back together.
- You know that, really, your ex isn’t fully over you.
- You’re holding onto what you once had because you’re scared to separate your lives and start to live independently of one another.
- If you’re the one who ended it and you feel guilty about that, sensing that somehow you ‘owe’ them some attention.
- Your ex actually still occupies a lot of your time, energy and thoughts.
- The thought of them with someone else makes you feel upset.
- Being friends with them just doesn’t seem to work.
So, although you might decide that you can’t be friends at the moment, that doesn’t mean that things can’t or won’t change in the future. You might eventually come together in a new sort of friendship but that might take time, whether it be months or years ahead.
A key thing is to set some boundaries if you are hoping to be friends, such as how much information you share about your personal lives, how much time you spend alone together and how you emotionally rely on one another.
So, to sum up, give it time before you hurtle into a friendship that you’re not actually ready for, make sure you’re actually over one other and remember that any friendship will need to be different from the relationship you once had. And, it’s alright if you decide that it’s too emotionally complicated for you and hopefully you can explain that you need more time before you can be true friends. A friendship isn’t always possible and accepting that in itself is a big step forward.
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