Surprisingly, this is something that I get asked about a lot, both electronically and in person. After writing this post and opening up about my struggle to find my identity and the reasoning behind the breakup with my ex, I’ve received questions about how I managed to stay friends and even live with my ex after breaking up with him. To be honest, with the exception of a few, I’ve remained friends with most of my exes, not in the sense that we talk and hang out regularly, but more in the sense that there’s no bad blood between us, and we’re friendly toward one another.
Firstly, I have a love of people. When people come into my life, and they play a significant role, no matter the length of time, I’m a firm believer in that they were a part of my life for a reason. So if I invest time in a relationship, it’s because there’s something about that person that I really like (or really many somethings about them that I like), and those things that I like about them aren’t going to go away because we broke up. Even though there are many people that have come in and out of my life, very few of them left because of something negative standing between us. Most of the people that I don’t speak to anymore aren’t around because one of us moved, we grew apart or we just didn’t keep up with the relationship anymore. That doesn’t mean we don’t like each other. It just means we aren’t significantly in each other lives anymore, and that’s okay.
Beyond that, I come from of a family of divorce. My parents got divorced when I was four-years-old, and they stayed in touch for my brother and me. Even now they’re still friendly toward each other. From the get-go, I had the perfect example of how you can still remain in the other person’s life even after the relationship ends.
I do believe that there are some instances when you shouldn’t remain friends with your ex. If your ex is using you in any way, shape or form, you definitely shouldn’t stick around. That’s not healthy for you, physically or emotionally. Also, if one person in the relationship still has feelings for the other then you need to let go. It’s not fair to either of you to keep holding on to that, and honestly, it would just be toxic to both of you in the end.
In order for you to truly be just friends with your ex with no romantic entanglements, I believe both parties have to be emotionally mature and actually be willing to accept that this is purely friendship. For me, moving back into the friend zone with a guy is usually pretty easy because I have a tendency of moving on pretty quickly, but this also depends on the length of friendship I had with him prior to us having anything romantic between us. I can’t think of anyone I’ve dated or flirted with that was purely romantic from the get-go. I usually “fall” for guys after getting to know them on a friendlier level. I’m all about that personality. Because of that, if it doesn’t work out romantically, I can sometimes easily revert back to friendship. But even if something doesn’t work out romantically and you can’t convert back, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have negative feelings toward each other. You can just accept that you’re not right for each other and move on from that rather than leaving things in a bad place.
If you want to remain friends with your ex and there still may be some romance between the two of you, my suggestion is to spend some time apart. The length of time is completely up to y’all. You should also establish some boundaries, like meeting in neutral places with friends and making sure there’s a lack of flirting and teasing between the two of you.
I’ve spoken to some people that wanted to establish a friendship with their ex, but their ex wasn’t about that life. In those cases, I believe it’s best to give them a cooling off period. Even though it may have been easy for you to draw the line, it’s obviously not the case for them. Time heals all wounds, and if being friends with your ex really means that much to you then you should respect that they may need some time apart from you to relearn what it’s like to live without you, find themselves and get used to the idea of the two of you no longer being together.
Not all exes are meant to be friends, and that’s perfectly okay. I have a few exes and ex-flirtationships that didn’t work out in the end too. You can’t stress over those former relationships because that person obviously wasn’t meant to be part of your future. I have my parents to thank for the amazing example they set for me and the lessons they taught me about still being friends with people who you aren’t romantically interested in anymore. I realize that some people may think being friends with your ex is a completely foreign concept, but for the most part, for me it’s just something I grew up with.
What are your thoughts on remaining friends with your ex?