After a breakup, it can be common to ask yourself the question “can I be friends with my ex?” Oftentimes, we may not know how to comprehend not having someone in our life who once played such a large and crucial part in it. If you are out of a breakup and thinking about wanting to have a friendship with your ex, here are some things to consider.
1. Am I worried about losing this person?
Is the motivation to be friends with your ex coming out of a fear of losing this person altogether? Acting from a place of fear is never helpful, and often will leave us anxious and not aligned with our true self and needs. If being friends with this person is motivated by not wanting to say goodbye, it may be important to do some reflecting on what this fear is and how it can be healed outside of having a friendship with your ex.
2. Are my romantic feelings gone?
Once we are romantically involved with someone, it can be very confusing to detach from that part of the relationship and have a friendship not based around a romantic nature. It is important to understand that when we date someone and have a sexual relationship with them, our brain actually is wired differently and can become deeply attached to this person. Moving from being someone’s romantic partner to their friend is not always black and white, and it can be important to ask yourself if you are still having romantic feelings towards this person. Do you still feel attached to them? Do you still want a physical connection with them? If the answer is yes, it can make it harder to move to a friendship.
3. How will I feel if this person starts dating someone else?
Friends are people we can go to for advice and support in our life, and we often turn to friends when it comes to dating advice. If you are thinking about being friends with your ex, think about what it may feel like if that person were to start dating again. Would you feel okay with giving them advice or listening to them talk about having feelings for someone else? If we are wanting to be friends with our ex, that means being able to show up for them as you would any other close friend, so considering what you may feel if they begin to like someone else can be important to think about.
4. Would this friendship need boundaries?
Given that you have a history of romantic relations with your ex, this would be a friendship that may need to have different boundaries than other friendships in your life. Thinking about what those boundaries would be, how you would enforce them, and how they might feel for you all are things to think about, and be able to dialogue about with your ex should you two choose to continue a friendship together.
There is no black and white answer to the question of whether it is possible to be friends with an ex. Some people are able to do this, and for others it can be much more difficult, or not possible at all. Asking yourself the above questions and intentionally giving this relationship thought and effort is an important step in the process should you choose to try and purse a continued relationship after the end of a romantic one.