Who says it is not possible to be friends with your ex? You may not get back together, but it is possible to maintain a good relationship with him/her outside romance. Usually, it will take a year or more to reach this status, since both of you need to move on first (See: How to Move On After a Relationship Ends: 15 Ways to Freshen Up).
Sometimes, friendship could be the only way to keep you connected to someone you still care for. This could be a complicated process, but with respect and mutual consent, creating a new kind of relationship with your ex can be smooth.
If you want to keep your ex part of your life as a friend, you can try the following ways.
1. Have a proper closure first.
A pure friendship can only happen if you and your ex had a clean exit. No matter how hard your fight was or how painful the breakup was, both of you have to maturely settle the issue. Before walking away from each other, make sure to have apologized to each other and agreed to just keep the good memories of your relationship.
2. Forgive completely.
It may not happen overnight, but be willing to give your complete forgiveness to your ex for the pain s/he caused you. You cannot be friends with him/her if you still have grudge against the person.
3. Get his/her forgiveness.
Still, you cannot be friends if s/he still has grudge against you. Make sure to have sincerely apologized for whatever pain you have caused him/her. It may take time, but once the wounds heal and both of you have released forgiveness, it is possible to build a new friendship already.
4. Give each other space.
Not seeing or communicating with each other while recovering from the breakup can help make the moving on process easier. Give yourself and your ex space to heal. That means not contacting him/her until such time you know both of you have already recovered.
5. Take time to heal.
Do not force yourself to move on immediately. The more you force it to happen, the longer it will take. Therefore, allow yourself enough time and space to accept that your relationship is over. Do not force yourself to be comfortable around him/her if you are not ready yet.
ALSO READ: 10 Inspirational Tips to Heal a Broken Heart
6. Avoid spreading gossips about your ex.
No matter how upset you are about the breakup and your ex, control yourself from saying negative things against him/her or divulging his/her secrets. Once s/he knows about it, you can forget about your desire to be friends with him/her.
7. Do not snob him/her.
Once you meet, whether accidentally or expectedly, do not ignore him/her. A smile or short greeting would not hurt. You do not have to act like nothing had happened, but at least you can be civil with each other.
8. Behave like meeting an old friend.
Whenever s/he is around, treat him/her like an old friend to avoid awkwardness. Greet him/her with cheerfulness and high energy (without sounding you miss him/her) like you are just happy to see an old friend. You can crack jokes and ask the usual questions friends ask each other like ‘how d ‘yah do?’. This would help your ex ease up as well. This could be uncomfortable at the beginning, but if you meet regularly, it would be natural in the long run.
9. Treat each other casually.
When you are around each other, treat each other casually. Avoid asking too personal or intimate questions that could be misinterpreted. Just talk about casual topics under the sun like the weather and current events. Do not give special treatment to each other as well. Remember, you are only friends. Treat him/her like how you treat your normal friends.
10. Do not open up about the past.
Unless necessary, and you know both of you have not fully moved on yet, avoid topics that would lead to your past relationship. Remember, you had your closure, so there is no need to open up about where it went wrong or whose fault was the breakup. You do not want to re-open wounds and severe your current connection.
11. Be sincere in your friendship.
If both of you have decided—directly or indirectly—to be friends, then you have to be a sincere friend. Do not pretend to be friendly only because you want to get information about his/her new partner or you are hoping there is a second chance for your relationship. Keep your friendship pure and malice-free.
12. Know your limitations.
Remember, you are not a boyfriend/girlfriend anymore. Therefore, you have no right to decide for him/her or criticize his/her actions. You may give honest opinion or suggestion only if you are asked to. You cannot dictate your ex anymore. You should also avoid invading his/her privacy or personal life.
13. Stay in the same circle of friends.
If you and your ex have the same friends from before, then do not cut your friendship with them. If you really want to keep your ex as a friend, then the most comfortable way is being together with the same gang. At first, it could be awkward and uncomfortable. Your friends may tease or try to get you back together as well. Nevertheless, they will eventually get the hang of your new status, and if they are real friends, they will respect and support your decisions.
14. Respect his/her new relationship.
In case your ex has already found a new love, then avoid being bitter and jealous if you want to be friends. Respect his/her present relationship. Treat the new partner nicely and casually. Avoid being sweet to your ex and contacting him/her for no important reason to avoid causing him/her trouble. It may be awkward at first, but if you and your ex have really moved on, then there would be no problem.
Do not force it
Just a word of caution though, friendship will only work if both of you are comfortable and eager. Do not force your ex to keep you as a friend if s/he is not willing or ready for it. In case s/he does not want to keep you part of his/her life, then you have to respect that decision.
Photo by Aleksandra Mazur