Relationships end everyday for various reasons. But what do you do about the ex-factor? Do you stay exes and cease all form of contact, or is friendship at all possible?
The reason many people have trouble being friends with an ex is because it can be downright difficult. “The hardest part I would say is making sure that you’re completely over the person and that there aren’t any residual emotions that might sneak up on you,” says Cristina Quarta, 22.
A friendship is feasible in certain cases, albeit there are some basic rules to follow if you want to avoid throwing heavy objects at each other and actually benefit from a platonic relationship.
Rule number 1: you must have distance before you can decide to be friends. It could take years before a friendship can build. Step back for a second and think. Has it been long enough? You need to be sure the romantic relationship is completely over, a thing of the past. If not, you might wind up hurting yourself for no reason.
Take one of my best friends for example. Cristina Roos, 20, was in a relationship for four years. After two months of being broken up, they decided to try a friendship. It was pretty tough on her at first. “At the beginning I believed it was because I still had feelings for him, but what I now realize is [it was] the actual reminder of what we had, and moving on was what was making it tough.”
She waited until she was fully over him, and the relationship routine, before trying out a friendship again. “Last time I saw him, it was the first time I felt nothing &- it felt more like friendship. It takes work to make that happen,” said Cristina.
Rule number 2: you can’t have a friendship with all your exes. Being friends with someone who disrespected you, cheated, lied, or did anything else particularly hurtful is almost impossible. Just forget it. These people are exes for a reason; you don’t need them in your life. If you had a bad breakup with this person, being friends with them and seeing them with the new girlfriend or boyfriend won’t make your life any better. They were kicked to the curb like garbage because they wronged you &- don’t go dumpster diving.
Rule number 3: set rules about what you can and can’t talk about. When your ex gets a new somebody in their life, you’re going to be uncomfortable at first. If it really becomes too much, tell your ex you’re not ready to hear about this person. Furthermore, if your ex starts to tell you about all the people they made out with one night at the bar and it makes you super uncomfortable, simply tell them to shut the fuck up. They need to remember you’re an ex/friend, not a just a regular friend.
Rule number 4: the friendship won’t be like other friendships. More often than not, it becomes more of an acquaintance type friendship. Accept it people. “My relationships with my exes aren’t exactly what I’d call “friendships’ – we catch up when we see each other (and are genuinely happy to do so), but we don’t plan hang outs or anything,” said Melissa Como, 24. “It would be too weird to be best friends with an ex, but hey, Jerry and Elaine did it.” You may stay hi-bye buddies for awhile, but it will probably change after a few years, if you share a genuine connection.
Nevertheless, having a consistent friendship that seems almost normal is still attainable. My ex-boyfriend and I dated in high school. After we broke up, we never spoke. Three years after our break up, we bumped into each other randomly. Since that day, we’ve been friends. It wasn’t easy, especially when we started talking about our new partners, but we both realized we wanted a friendship to work, so we dealt with it.
Now, we’re golden. What does he think about our friendship? “It’s cool; I help her out when she needs it. For example, I went with her to buy a hockey stick for the guy she’s seeing now,” said Dave Russo, 21. It actually didn’t bother him that he helped me get my new man a birthday gift. We had a lot of fun, even though the salesman thought we were a couple. Obviously, not everyone is going to have that type of friendship with their ex, but stranger things have happened. “What’s important is that you both respect each other and act like friends, not exs,” reminds Russo.