Sometimes, the old chestnut ‘let’s stay friends’ after a relationship ends, becomes a reality. Maybe you have common friends or colleagues, maybe you’ll bump into each other at local events. Or maybe you just want to give it a try because the dreaded thought of cutting them from your life is just too hard.
Whatever the reason, if you want to remain friends, you’ll need to make sure you follow these rules to navigate this:
Do take a break from each other first. There’s no way you can transition from relationship to ‘just friends’ right away. You need to wait until all the old hurt and resentment has vanished, and you don’t have any romantic feelings anymore. If you can go for days without thinking about him, and when he does pop into your brain it doesn’t hurt, then you’re on your way to being ready for friendship. It’s also a good idea to try hanging out in a group first just to test the waters and see how you feel.
Don’t stick being friends with him if he still makes you unhappy. If the friendship kills you inside, if you can’t let go of the memories and pain, then it’s time to move on... even if this means you must re-arrange other things in your life first. Your heart needs protecting as a priority.
Do be realistic. It won’t always be easy, there will be times when jealousy and anger rears its ugly head. If you can have an adult conversation about boundaries and feelings when they occur, then you might just about be able to navigate your new world.
Don’t trick yourselves into thinking that it’ll be fine to sleep with one another. Even once can drag up all kinds of unwelcome feelings, sending you back to square one, and if you think that you can do ‘friends with benefits’ then you’re very wrong. You’ll be back in relationship territory before you know it.
Do remember why you broke up. Hanging out for a short time as friends is a whole lot easier to be together. Don’t allow your rose-tinted glasses to overshadow your rationality. If you start to notice your old feelings creeping back in, remind yourself of everything that went wrong and why it isn’t working.
Don’t constantly refer to him as your ‘ex’, or drag up the details of your relationship. You’re trying something new now, your past is over. This won’t work if you keep trying to bring up old issues. Treat him like you do all your other friends.
Do be pleasant to his new partner, and if you can’t be, then keep well out of the way. No one wants to be known as the ‘bitter ex’, and chances are she’s already going to be wary of you.
Don’t stalk his social media feed... this one can never lead to anything good! You are guaranteed to find out something you don’t want to, and that won’t help you to get any closure or let go. It’s just plain destructive. Just steer clear, that way you’ll have something to talk about when you see each other again.
Just knowing and accepting that it isn’t always going to be easy is half the battle. If you’re both aware that you need to be cautious until you work out where you are, then chances are you’ll get through that part and you’ll end up forgetting that you were ever together to begin with!
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