Sex & Life
Sex & Life March 15, 2017
Breakups are tough. They hurt like hell and they can make your whole world seem like it’s ending. The worst part? It may feel like the person you once loved the most is causing all of your pain and misery. Whether they broke up with you or you broke up with them, having an ex can be frustrating – especially if you decide you want to be friends.
What’s a newly single girl to do? Breathe and try not to stress – because ENTITY has your back. In fact, with the help of these four tips and some advice from Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of “He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing),” you might create the best “relationship” with your ex that you’ve ever had.
Unfortunately, breakups are a natural part of dating: research reports that 85 relationships end in breakups and women date an average of 12 people before getting married. Just because breakups are common doesn’t mean that you will – or should – react to them equally or treat your exes the same, though.
In fact, Syrtash says, “Some people are able to maintain a friendship with an ex, and some are not. There are no rules around this.”
So how will you know if your ex is friend-material or, in Taylor Swift’s words, just another picture to burn? Syrtash suggests considering “many factors, including how and why the relationship ended, why you want to stay in contact and if you’re truly ready to embrace this new relationship (moving from a romantic attachment to a friendship).”
If your ex was toxic, abusive or negligent any way, please don’t try to be friends with him her or her. That friendship would probably do you more harm than good. However, if your ex is a good person or friend but just not a good partner, check out the following steps to foster a healthy friendship with an ex.
Maybe you saw the breakup coming for months or maybe it was a complete surprise. Either way, plan to set aside plenty of alone (or, at the very least, away from your ex) time to understand the breakup and move on.
“Time is helpful after a breakup as long as you use the time to reflect on what didn’t work about your relationship and what you hope to create ahead,” explains Syrtash. You may feel like time is flying by and you aren’t feeling any better, but be patient. One 2015 study found that it takes around 11 weeks for people to get over a breakup and agree with positive statements like, “I have learned a lot about myself” and “I have grown as a person.” Another important point: this data applies equally to dumpers and dumpees.
Giving yourself time to heal might be the most important step before pursuing any sort of relationship with your ex because “maintaining a little distance following a breakup to allows the person to process the relationship,” according to Syrtash.
If your ex tries to reach out before you’re ready, Syrtash suggests responding with something like: “I really value you and want us to be in each other’s lives, but I also realize it’s a bit tough right now for us to be in touch.”
You may even want to listen to the advice of Sasha Carr, a psychologist and certified life coach, and take “60 days without seeing your ex, talking to them on the phone, texting, emailing, looking at their online profiles, tweeting or even listening to old voicemail messages you saved in your cellphone.”
Why 60 days? “Time with no contact whatsoever provides the clarity you need in order to remember exactly who you are and find your emotional center,” Carr states in her blog. Much like with the loss of a loved one, a breakup often triggers emotional stages like shock, devastation, confusion, anger and guilt before you reach acceptance. You want to feel confident and clear-headed when you reach out to your ex, and you need time to get there.
If you don’t give yourself time to heal before entering the friend zone, you may end up feeling even worse than before.
So you’ve thought about your options and given yourself time to heal. Are you ready to reconnect with your new BFF yet? According to Syrtash, you should first consider “what it’s costing you to stay in this relationship and what it’s costing you to leave it. You might find the cost [of friendship] is too high. For instance, it may hurt your chances of moving on to a more suitable partner.”
A 2015 survey supports Syrtash’s fears. 74 percent of women and 64 percent of men reported thinking about their ex too much while – even worse – 54 percent of surveyed singles say thinking about their ex prevents them from finding new love.
If you don’t want to be part of those frightening statistics, make sure you know why you want to pursue a friendship with your ex in the first place.
Is it because you were once friends and you want to continue this friendship? Is it because you miss their company? Or is it because you secretly want to get back with them? Answer this question for your own sake and, if you discover a truth that you don’t like, keep your distance.
After all, as Syrtash explains, going into a “friendship” with lingering romantic goals could mean you’re “setting yourself up for further heartache and confusion. But if you’re staying in touch because you both realize you’re better suited as friends, this arrangement can work.”
If you haven’t already, be upfront with your ex about what you want. Explain why you want to be friends and admit your part in the end of your relationship. You may even want to try to forgive your ex-partner (and yourself) for what went wrong while you were dating. While forgiveness is often difficult to give, its benefits – ranging from lower heart rate and blood pressure to greater stress relief and optimism to improved relationships with others – may be worth it.
Once you’ve said your piece, give your ex a chance to do the same. Then, decide what kind of relationship you both want to share. If both of you want to be friends, great. Set up boundaries – like letting go of past issues or not talking about current girl/boyfriends – and give friendship a shot. If one of you doesn’t want to stay in touch, or you try being friends but it hurts too much, you’re allowed to walk away and move on. It wasn’t your responsibility to do everything for your ex while you were dating, and it’s certainly not your responsibility now.
Don’t view moving on from your relationship as a failure either. As Syrtash explains, “It’s better to have loved and learned than to never have loved at all.”
Sometimes that learning involves recovering from your breakup and learning to love and enjoy time with your ex as a friend. Sometimes you instead learn that – for the good of your own mental health and future relationships – you can’t be friends with an ex. No “lesson” is better or more desirable. They’re both just part of your own journey of finding love for others…and for yourself.
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