In one of his many, now cliché-sounding utterances in the rom-com classic When Harry Met Sally the titular male character declares that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. But what about when you’ve already gotten the sex part out of the way before you decided to part romantic ways? Is it possible to hold onto certain aspects of your closeness while closing off other ones completely??
Almost everyone has an ex or two they never want to see again. We avoid the places they like to frequent and cross to the other side of the street when we see them coming, bowing our heads to the pavement in hopes we can slip by without one of those awkward “what are you up to these days” conversations. Mine is a shameful reminder of a lapse in judgment, a time when going against my instinct ended with the dredging up of deeply-seeded insecurities and a high level of distrust in men that persisted for years.
But not all relationships end in angry heartbreak and seemingly-insurmountable despair. Things sometimes just don’t work out for factors beyond our control – the timing wasn’t right, someone more interesting comes along, or the passion fizzles and you realize you work better as friends.
When the ending doesn’t result in you behaving shitty towards each other, it is possible to cultivate a friendship that can be just as meaningful as the romantic partnership? Since an ex is privy to all sorts of personal knowledge, they can become quite the confident and offer a unique perspective on your life.
Here are a few guidelines for making the transition as smooth as possible:
1 – Take Your Time
There’s no way you can expect to become good friends right away when the wounds are raw. Inevitably there needs to be a so-called “mourning period” for the relationship that could last for days, months, or even years. It usually depends on how long you were together for and the cause of the relationship’s eventual demise. Trying to rush a friendship before the time is right is a recipe for disaster.
2 – Set Clear Boundaries and Abide By Them
Without clear emotional and physical boundaries, it is impossible for a friendship with an ex to succeed. Get together in public as opposed to alone in the privacy of your apartment to resist the temptation to fall back into old habits. Keep your friendship light and easy by focusing on the things you still have in common like mutual friends or favorite activities as opposed to using your ex as a place to get your emotional needs met.
3 – Get Over Them By Getting Under Someone Else
If you’re merely biding your time with your ex, waiting for them to realize that breaking up with you was the biggest mistake they ever made, then I hate to break it to you but it’s not really much of a friendship. Get out there and meet some new people! You might be surprised to find out that there are lovers out there who are better suited to your than your ex. Also, I wouldn’t run to them to discuss the intimate details of your new relationship either. Eventually, you might get to the point where you’re probing each other for romantic advice, but initially it’s best to keep some things about your new life a mystery.