And now for the touchy topic of the day: being friends with your ex. Some people are of the belief that this arrangement is impossible, asking for trouble, or both. Like, why on Earth would anyone want to become pals with a person they used to be intimately involved with? A 2016 study found that people who make friends out of an ex have various motives, like staying close in the hopes of resuming a romantic relationship, hanging around to get revenge on their exes (#savage), or simply because they started off as friends and genuinely value that bond.
Regardless of whether your former lovers fall in the friend or foe category, we’re all adults here — we get to choose who belongs in our inner circle, even if it includes someone from our romantic past.
Above all else, don’t go into the situation uninformed or ill-prepared. You’re not obligated to hate your ex, but there are some undeniable truths you *have* to accept if you’re going to be friends.
1Becoming friends with an ex is a process.
YourTango suggests a “no contact” period to mourn the old relationship if you want to befriend to a former flame. The amount of time it lasts is up to the parties involved, but after it’s over, both of you should be able to talk to one another without getting emotional or rehashing stuff that happened when you were an item.
2They may be mum about their current love life.
At least for a while! Again, if you and your ex are going to be friends, there’s no need to rush the situation. One day, both of you may feel comfortable enough to start swapping dating horror stories, but don’t force anything just for the sake of trying to prove that you’re ready for a friendship. Accept that your ex may not want to give you a play-by-play of what’s going on with their love life (and feel free to speak up if they’re actually oversharing in that department).
3Your friends may not approve.
It’s not their relationship, but that will definitely not stop your friends from throwing a bit of shade at your decision to be friends with your old boo. Even if you’re confident in your choice, understand that it might be really weird for them. Give them time to adjust, and hopefully they’ll come around.
4Your mutual friends may be kind of awkward.
Oh yeah, your mutual pals will be totally weirded out as well. This could manifest in many ways, from them being super stiff and tight-lipped around you to not inviting you to future group shindigs or backing away wide-eyed while waving nervously whenever you walk into a room with your ex.
5Their new partner may be suspicious of you.
People are accustomed to former couples being petty or vengeful after they part ways, so don’t be surprised if your ex’s new boo isn’t so keen on you still being in the picture. They might think you secretly want that old thing back, or maybe they still have beef with their ex, which informs the way they treat you. Either way, tread carefully.
6You’re no longer their first priority.
Sure, you’ve gone from lover to bestie, but if your ex becomes seriously involved with someone else, don’t expect them to drop everything and be at your side like they did when you were a couple.
7You have to establish boundaries.
New rules are necessary when you befriend an ex. The relationship has shifted in a major way, so how you deal with one another moving forward should reflect the changes. For example, is a hug an appropriate greeting, or will a hello and a handshake suffice? Are they still allowed to drop by unannounced, or do you need a phone call or text before a visit? THIS IS FRIGGIN’ COMPLICATED.
These questions don’t necessarily have to be answered during a formal sit-down, but both of you definitely need to be on the same page about respecting boundaries if you want to be a shining example of exes who can stay friends after a split.