We’ve probably all been there or said it at least once in our lives, that “let’s be friends” line that’s said when a relationship breaks up but isn’t so bad that you can’t stand the look of them. But is it a good idea to be friends with an ex and is it really possible? Like Billy Crystal’s character said in When Harry Met Sally “Men and women can’t really be friends… the sex part always gets in the way.” Whether you believe this is true or not sometimes it can be and sometimes it really is possible to be friends with an ex.
The biggest obstacle to being friends with an ex is all that the history and intimacy gained from sex with that person. When sex is involved, either past or present, it changes things and if you and your ex aren’t able to adjust your relationship according to the change of status then the “let’s be friends” line is just that, a line or platitude to keep the breakup from being even worse. Changing your relationship status from boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife to friends takes time and effort. You have to cut out the sex, rearrange the way you interact (i.e. leaving the flirting by the wayside) and actually make the effort to have a friendship.
Here is a sort of checklist for how to be friends with your ex and actually make it work:
• Before anything, make sure you are completely over your ex and that they are over you too. Romantic love can send all of your hard work down the drain, so this is the biggest step in seeing if it is possible to be friends with your ex.
• Take the time to check in with them via text or a phone call to see how they are, send birthday message/gifts, make sure to see how their life is going without you as their significant other and above all ensure that you are making it possible for them to find their own path without you as their partner anymore.
• Avoid sexual or romantic topics as much as possible. Going into this territory is just going to make things sticky and start muddling the waters of your friendship.
• Take it slow in the beginning; you can’t just jump into the role of “BFF” to an ex overnight. Make your face to face interactions short and sweet the first few times after the break up, then over time you can start playing a more active role in their life as a “friend” rather than a boyfriend or husband.
• Treat each other with respect and kindness. If you aren’t able to do these two things a friendship is never going to be a possibility.