Ex-boyfriends â€“ we all have them. You may hide from some, others may be worth keeping around. As long as one of you didnâ€™t screw up big time in the relationship, breaking up doesnâ€™t have to mean never seeing each other again. Many people tell horror stories about how disastrous it was trying to be friends with their ex-boyfriend, but thatâ€™s probably because they werenâ€™t following the rules.
While being friends with an ex can work, it certainly doesnâ€™t mean the same thing as being friends with just anybody. The fact that the two of you have been intimate changes the dynamics of the friendship. This rarely means that the two of you can spend all day together, multiple times a week, trading stories and sharing a beer. You will probably never be quite as buddy-buddy as that.
But this friendship can mean that you are on good terms, post a â€œHappy Birthdayâ€ message on each otherâ€™s Facebook wall, and even hang out occasionally. Hereâ€™s how itâ€™s done.
Get Some Space
The most important rule of thumb after a break up is to take some time apart. Donâ€™t call him, donâ€™t text him â€“ donâ€™t have any form of contact with your ex-boyfriend for a few months. Just because you are broken up does not mean that the romantic charge of the relationship has vanished. This will give time to not only get over him, but evaluate whether or not he is worth having a friendship with.
Donâ€™t consider having a friendship with an ex who has cheated or was abusive in anyway. These people are not worth keeping around and your time will be better used finding new people that will make you happier.
If you believe your ex-beau can still be of value as a friend, make sure to be over him before having contact with him again.
By jumping into a friendship before the romantic attraction goes away, it makes it more difficult to get over him. There canâ€™t be any hidden expectations of getting back together with your ex when beginning a new friendship because this will only cause confusion and hurt feelings if youâ€™re not on the same page. You may get caught in a cycle with your ex that makes it difficult to move on to new relationships.
â€œYou need to let some time pass and feel comfortable in your own mind that youâ€™ve resolved all your feelings towards them and there is not some kind of underlying motivation to get back together,â€ says Andrew Trees, author of Decoding Love.
By the time you start this friendship, you should no longer feel an extreme attraction towards him. Trees suggests that if you do, question what you are doing and take some more time apart.
A good rule to go by is if you get extremely jealous or sad at the thought of your ex-boyfriend having a new lady is his life, you are not ready to be friends.
Take it Slow
When you and your ex-beau decide itâ€™s time to try to be friends, donâ€™t try to jump in right where you left off. Take things slow by only seeing each other occasionally to ease your way into this new friendship. Donâ€™t get too personal right away because this is where it can get tricky.
One of the key rules that go with this is to never have sex with an ex that youâ€™re trying to just be friends with. This will make your months of getting over him a waste and ultimately ruin your friendship.
â€œYou have a shared history, which is part of what makes the idea of friendship appealing because there is that intimacy and that closeness so you can get a lot out of that friendship, but it is also the downside of it,â€ says Trees.
When youâ€™re friends with an ex it can be very easy to fall into the â€œfriends with benefitsâ€ category, which is not a healthy situation for most people.
â€œIf youâ€™re calling them every day and seeing them regularly, thatâ€™s probably a warning sign that youâ€™re wanting more from the friendship,â€ says Trees. â€œBeing Facebook friends and seeing each other once a month or so, thatâ€™s fine.â€
By establishing normal friendship boundaries, you will be able to keep your ex-beau in your life while still being emotionally ready for romance with a new guy.
When Itâ€™s Over, Itâ€™s Over
After a break-up, you canâ€™t hold on to the past. If you truly want to get back together with your ex, then make that perfectly clear. Do not use a friendship as an excuse to see your ex, hoping that he will change his mind, stringing you along as you watch him date other girls. If he does not want you back, then itâ€™s time to move on.
When youâ€™re ready to just be friends with an ex-boyfriend, keep a close watch on your emotions as to not let the relationship drag on in its half-life, as Trees says.
â€œIf you can really say that there is no ulterior motive to being friends then you are probably in the clear, but the problem is we are very good at lying to ourselves,â€ says Trees. â€œWhat we tell ourselves rationally and whatâ€™s really going on are often two different things.â€