The do’s and don’ts of a successful friendship with your ex

I read an article (in Dutch) about whether or not it is possible to stay friends with your ex. The article suggests that theoretically this is possible but that in reality this usually doesn’t happen. I guess it is pretty difficult to just be friends with someone for whom you felt real love at some point. However, if both parties are willing, I think a friendship can actually work.

Things you need to consider

If the two concerning parties have a good understanding of what is or isn’t acceptable, I believe a friendship can work. In this case you have to think of the following:

  • Do I still have strong feelings for him/her?
  • How will it make me feel if I see him/her with someone else?
  • Am I trying to get back together with him/her?
  • Do I (still) have sexual urges towards him/her?

Strong feelings for your ex

If you still have strong feelings for your ex, a friendship will most definitely not work out. I say “strong” feelings, because I think that if you really had a love connection with someone, you will always have some feelings for that person.

Negative emotions at the thought of seeing your ex with someone elseIf you’re over them then you can cope with the feelings that are left and still make rational decisions. On the other hand, if you still have strong feelings for this person, you might do something stupid like try to sabotage their new relationship. This is why you should evaluate your own feelings first.

Negative emotions at the thought of seeing your ex with someone else

Now, if you’re sure that you don’t have strong feelings for your ex anymore, you need to consider how you will feel if you see him/her with someone else. If the thought of seeing your ex with someone else scares you, makes you nauseous or just makes you angry, do not try to be friends with him/her.

Trying to get back together with your ex

Trying to get back together with your ex by befriending him/her is the worst idea ever, especially if he/she doesn’t know that this is your ultimate goal. I say this because if you befriend someone, in this case your ex, they may tell you things in confidence. For example, they tell you what a potential new partner did wrong. You will obviously use this information to your advantage. When your ex finds out, he/she will feel betrayed and you can kiss getting back together goodbye.

What if the sexual urges towards your ex are still present?

Let’s say you’ve past the first three tests: you do not have strong feelings for your ex, seeing him/her with someone else would not have a negative impact on you and you are sure that you’ve accepted the situation and are not trying to get back together with him/her. In this case you also need to evaluate if you still have sexual urges towards him/her. This is important because the line between friends and friends with benefits is thin. Yet, being friends with someone usually means a lot more than being friends with benefits.

sexual urges towards your ex are still present

If you still have sexual urges towards your ex, you may be tempted to make a move on him/her again. If he/she denies you access, this will open a whole new wound in your ego (and heart). At the same time if you and your ex hang out, he/she gets intoxicated, and you take advantage of that, your ex may never trust you again. Then you can say goodbye to the friendship as well.

So how can it work?

In my opinion being friends with your ex isn’t easy, but it is possible if:

  • Friends with your ex succesfullyBoth people are aware of each other’s intentions
  • You don’t have a problem with the points mentioned above
  • You both just want the other person to be happy, even if it’s with someone else.

Important notes

Take into consideration that being friends with an ex may be awkward at first. You don’t know how to react to certain situations or what to say to certain points. Nevertheless, the awkwardness does go away eventually if you can genuinely just be friends.

In addition, it is possible that while being friends you’re your ex, some feelings may come back. Know how to deal with these and make them discussable.

Remember that your new partner may not be too thrilled to know that you’re still hanging out with your ex. They may feel threatened, but with good communication, it is possible to make him/her understand the situation. If he/she doesn’t you need to think about what means more to you: your friendship with your ex or your new relationship. Choose wisely.

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