You loved him, you hated him and now you want to be friends with him. It crushed your world when you broke up, and you’ve finally decided that getting back together isn’t a good idea. (Which is actually a good thing since there are some major issues related to cyclical relationships, including impulsiveness to make big decisions, insecurity, bad communication skills and overall lower satisfaction.)

Okay, so at least you know getting back together isn’t a good decision. But what about a friendship? Being friends may seem like the perfect way to maintain a healthy relationship with your former partner without all of the messiness, but it’s not as easy as you think. You both have clouded judgements and your Facebook status, at the very least, probably includes the words “complicated.” Still want to be friends with an ex? Then ENTITY has a few tips to help guide you along your way.

1 Heal first, friendship second.

Trying to rekindle a friendship after a fresh breakup is a recipe for disaster. You haven’t even figured out how to function on your own. That process takes time. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that it takes most people at least three months before they can look back at a relationship and agree with statements like: “I learned a lot about myself” or “I have grown as a person.”

Before you even think about being friends with your ex, take a much-needed break from seeing him or her at all. Once you can honestly answer questions like those given above with a resounding, “Yes,” then you can think about sending that ex-special-someone a friendly text.

2 Figure out if you actually want a friendship.

Even though being friends may sound like a good idea, it may not be the healthiest choice for you and your ex. Do you genuinely want a platonic relationship with him or her, or are you secretly hoping that a friendship will rekindle your lost romance? Don’t convince your ex to enter a friendship with you if you have hidden motivations or desires.

One scary (but important) statistic to know? According to a poll by My Tango, 57 percent of singles admit that thinking about their ex too much has prevented them from finding a new love. Unless you can be friends with your ex and move on from him or her at the same time, friendship may not be the right choice for you!

3 Know the difference between a “friendship” and a “relationship.”

Remember how you convinced your ex to “break up” with that friend of his who was nothing but a bad influence or the time you sent him 20 text messages on a Friday night because he never told you about his plans with the guys? When you’re in a relationship, influencing who your significant other’s friends are or knowing his or her plans may be normal. In a friendship, though, you need to give him or her more space. Understand that your ex is free to talk to and see other people – just like you are!

4 Appreciate the good times for what they were.

Before you delete all of the photos of you two together or start a bonfire with all of his love letters, recognize that remembering the good times you had together is normal and healthy. There was (hopefully) a reason you two were together for that period of time, and you shouldn’t ignore those happy memories. However, you also shouldn’t convince yourself that things could be the same as they were before, or you’ll spend all of your time fantasizing about getting back together. Don’t waste time or brain cells examining every “What if?” that could’ve kept you two together. Instead, use the good memories as motivations to create more good memories – by yourself or with someone else.

5 Keep growing.

Never let yourself become stagnant! A breakup is no reason to put your life on hold. If anything, it’s the perfect time to go through a full metamorphosis. As Thought Catalogue explains, you can use your extra free time to explore new hobbies or interests, develop a sense of identity on your own (instead of tied to your partner) and grow even closer to the friends and family who support you. Always move forward in life. You and your ex are separate entities, so you should continue on with your life with or without him. If you end up being friends, that’s great! If not, you have your own amazing life to enjoy!

6 Kick all the skeletons out of your closet …

If you haven’t communicated all  your feelings to your ex, then he or she is bound to have a distorted view of your former relationship. If you want to pursue a friendship, the two of you should be on the same page. In particular, make sure you both understand why you broke up and what you both want out of a friendship. If this takes another emotional all-nighter, then so be it. 

7 … but don’t fall back into old habits.

At the same time, though, make sure that you don’t fall into old habits as you’re talking about your romantic history. If you find yourself constantly texting your ex or treating him or her like more than a friend, take a step back and evaluate the situation. There was a reason you broke up and falling back into a mishmash friendship-relationship-IDK-thing was not what you signed up for. As the blog, Ask the Love Doctor, explains, communication – even when you break up – is vital. However, you shouldn’t ask for or expect the same level of communication as two people who are in a relationship. If you start feeling a little too cozy with your ex, take another break from contact to prevent yourself from falling back into the same relationship roles.

8 Don’t be dependent on him.

When you’re emotionally dependent on someone for so long, it’s hard to wean off of his or her companionship. Now that you’ve broken up, it’s no longer his job to give a shoulder for you to cry on. Of course, your ex might offer support as a friend, but don’t make him responsible for your emotional baggage. You should find independence in your breakup and, unfortunately, this is impossible if you’re still emotionally reliant on your ex.

9 Don’t guilt trip for past actions while dating.

While you’re talking “as friends,” you might feel tempted to bring up the faults in your relationship – but don’t. Once you begin a friendship with your ex, the motto should be “The past is in the past.” Ideally, you’ll have both recognized and dealt with these issues before beginning your friendship.

Hopefully, these steps will prevent you from falling into an unhealthy relationship with your ex. Keep in mind that every relationship is different. You shouldn’t consider it a failure if you can’t create the friendship with your ex that you wanted. It just wasn’t meant to be. Nonetheless, ENTITY wishes you the best of luck!

Edited by Casey Cromwell

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