You & your ex: friends?

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Different people have different ideas. Does time heal everything? Tips to decide if and how to be friends later.

An ex-girlfriend and ex-boyfriend having trouble spending time together

Break-ups can range from a major dramatic ending full of emotion to a friendly agreement to call it quits. No matter how it happens though a break-up marks a big change in the way that you relate to each other. When people break-up they often want to stay friends,┬ámaybe because they think it will soften the pain or maybe because they still like hanging out but it’s not easy making the shift from couple to friend.

Get some space

Making a friendship work after a break-up is really tough. When you think about it a friendship is like taking a step back from the closeness you had as a couple. Both people need time to get used to the shift and move on with their separate lives.

It’s good to take some time apart from your ex. After six months or a year, when the tough feelings have faded, it will be clear whether you want to hang out again as friends.

Think about it

How did you feel during the relationship? If you felt good but things didn’t work out, then after a while a friendship could be okay.

Do your friends or family think being friends with your ex is a good idea? If not, listen to what they have to say.

People usually break-up for a reason, often those reasons will still get in the way of a friendship. If your ex didn’t treat you right, being friends with them will probably be more of the same.

How do you feel when you see them?

Break-ups bring up a lot of strong feelings – anger, jealousy, rejection – sooner or later one of you is bound to feel one or all of these things. As friends you should be able to share this with your ex but in reality your ex is the reason you are having these feelings so they are the last person who can support you (or you them).

You both need to find other people to lean on.

You can’t do that if you keep going back to each other.

  • Does seeing them make you want to get back together?
  • Do you feel angry, jealous, guilty or sad?
  • Are you still in love with them?
  • Do you feel like they really need you? Or they have no one else to turn to?

Any of these strong feelings are a clear sign you’re not ready for a friendship with your ex.

Try focusing on your other friends or make some new ones.

Sharing how you feel with someone you trust (not the one who broke your heart) will help you heal and grow closer to people who care about you.

Have they changed?

Even though your ex might seem different and has changed, the bad news is, in most cases they haven’t (sorry).

People can change but it takes a lot of hard work and time to change. Change won’t happen overnight.

Months later he phoned and said he loved me so much he couldn’t live without me. So I fell for him again and got married quite young. I thought he’d change if I loved him enough.

But after we married he started arguing with me again.

Read Donna’s story

Being friends later on

After six months or a year, maybe you’d like to try being friends. It’s normal for things to feel strange at first. Here’s some tips to make it easier…

  • Decide not to talk about certain things eg stuff you used to fight about
  • Don’t hang out in places like bedrooms or places where you’ve been sexual together.
  • Talk about your new BF/GF and listen to their stories if they’re dating someone else.
  • If you start to feel jealous or hurt or angry, take time out from them again.
  • If they want to see you too much, get upset or angry at you, or make you feel guilty for not going out with them, stop hanging out with them. They are being manipulative and are not ready for friendship.

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Ph0to from Flickr by deepchi1

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