Apparently, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber broke up and are trying to reunite and this is important for reasons that I am not sure of, but I’m hoping that maybe one day the reasons will come to me, crisp and clear, a mighty revelation, like the one Nicolas Cage had when he saw a message on a dollar bill that convinced him there was a treasure map on the back of The Declaration of Independence. And I’m not referring to the film National Treasure; I like to believe that the film was based on a real-life experience Cage had when he was alone one night in one of his many haunted mansions, talking to a pile of dinosaur bones, with Francis Ford Coppola on the line pleading, “Nick, this has gone too far, you need help.”

But that’s not important right now.

Can you be friends with your ex? To quote another X, “I want to believe.” I want to believe that you can. I think that the television show How I Met Your Mother is a fairly good example of how a former couple tries and fails and succeeds and fails and tries again at being friends after a serious relationship. First it’s too hard for one person, then the other, then they’re both seemingly okay, then one of them gets out of a different serious relationship and falls back on the other, and it’s a mess all over again.

I think it goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that there is no one definitive answer; what may work for you does not work for someone else, and it all depends upon your situation. I used to think that it was impossible to be friends with an ex. But after a few years, I finally reached out to the first guy who ever broke my heart, saying I had no hate in my heart and he messed me up but I hope he’s doing well. He responded back, happy, and told me that I was always an inspiration to him. That would have been really nice to know. But I know now.

Currently I’m getting out of a year long relationship, and determined to stay friends with this ex, because he’s a great guy and pretty much became my best friend. I found that these are the phases one goes through:

Phase 1:

You are not speaking to each other. You do not even want to know they exist. Sometimes this is out of deep hurt, other times, out of anger.

Phase 2:

You gradually start texting, emailing or talking again. Casual, light and breezy.

Phase 3:

You meet up again for the first time. As friends. It is awkward as hell.

Phase 4:

You meet up again and whoops you accidentally have sex.

Phase 5:

It’s like you’re in a relationship again, but not really. You still go to brunch and have sex, but you’re not exclusive, and you don’t want to be.

Phase 6:

One of you begs for the other person back. You then realize it’s time for you to stop talking to each other for a while.

Phase 7:

It looks a lot like Phase 4.

Phase 8:

You agree that you mean too much to each other to erase from your lives. You decide that you will be friends again, but it probably won’t happen until both of you are in a stable relationship with someone else.

Phase 9:

You stay in touch and you’re okay.

Phase 10:

Nicolas Cage. This is the phase in which you realize that no matter what happens, neither of you is Nicolas Cage.

This is what I’ve come up with. At this point in time, I’m happy for my ex, I’m trying to help him out and if he has a girlfriend I really wish he would just tell me because it’s getting silly to pretend that you don’t, and I can handle it. Because, babe, we broke up for a reason.

What do you think? Can you stay friends with your ex? And is there a phase you thought I left out?

If you’re still in mourning, here’s a great Breaking Up Mix I made that I think you’ll really enjoy.

Image via ShutterStock.