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How to Stay Friends With Your Ex

Two people who learned how to stay friends with an ex smiling together and being silly.

Besides It’s not you, it’s me the line, Let’s stay friends is probably the most common line tossed around during a breakup. Saying goodbye to an ex and their companionship is extremely hard, which is why most people like the idea of remaining friends post-breakup. The idea of giving up weekly pizza nights and cute GIF-filled texts seems less difficult when you can still hang out together and be apart of each other’s lives. But, given your shared history, remaining friends with your ex is a tricky thing. So how do you stay friends with your ex?

Below are tips on how to build a friendship with your ex that is filled with mutual respect and platonic adoration, and little awkwardness.

1. Give the breakup some time.
Remaining friends with someone who smashed your heart into itty bitty pieces is no easy feat. This is why it’s imperative to give each other space and time to heal. During this time apart, completely disengage with them online and in real life. The amount of time apart is completely different for each individual, but the general rule of thumb is to leave each other alone for three months minimum—or at least until your heart stops flip flopping/blood stops boiling at the mention of his or her name.

2. Determine the why.
Emotions—not to mention surges of sexual tension—often run high with those whom we’ve engaged romantically. That’s why it’s important to identify your reasons for wanting to salvage the friendship. Is it for closure, or are you hoping to get back together? Are you desiring emotional support, or is it because you just really enjoy your ex’s company? Clarifying your motives behind the friendship will determine whether or not staying friends with your ex is actually a good, and healthy, thing for you to do.

3. Reach out.
If you’ve determined that your reasons for staying friends are legitimate, and you definitely do not have residual feelings, it’s now safe to reach out to your ex via text, Facebook, or email. Maybe test the waters with a quick note like,“Saw this and thought of you!” If they respond back within a reasonable amount of time, tell your ex how much you’d like to maintain a friendship and ask if they feel the same way. Be prepared for either response.

4. See your ex in daylight hours only.
If your ex is ready to be friends, it’s best to lay down some ground rules. The first one? Be the opposite of vampires and only meet when the sun is up. This way you’re more likely to engage in platonic activities like going out for coffee, and not indulging in alcoholic beverages, which could lead to fighting or sex… or both. It’s also a good idea to avoid going to places that you used to haunt as a couple. Only consider meeting up for a nightcap if you’ve been able to succeed meeting up as daylight-only friends for a few months without any fear of falling back into old patterns or someone’s bed.

5. Don’t fall back into old patterns.
Once you’re getting along with your ex, it’s super easy to fall back into old patterns like texting and/or calling each other on a daily basis. Although it feels good to be close with your ex again, you don’t want to create any false hope of getting back together. It’s best to treat your friendship with your ex like you would an acquaintance. Treat them with respect and communicate only when you need to.

6. Be a friend, not an ex.
You two might share a romantic history, but if you’re determined to have a legit friendship with your ex, then you must treat him or her like a true friend. Meaning? Don’t bring up any old arguments or any hang-ups you might be holding onto from your relationship (especially those that factored into your breakup). Also, it goes without saying: no flirting or dressing provocatively or referring to previous sexual relations. Above all, have fun! Enjoy and be grateful for the connection you two share.

7. Be happy for their new relationship.
It’s inevitable—your ex will meet someone new. When this happens, be as gracious and supportive as you would be for any other of your friends. Don’t compare your relationships, don’t mention how you used to have sex in front of their new partner, and don’t be bitter or mean. Support your ex’s attempt to move on and forward. Take to heart that his or her new relationship is actually a huge sign that your friendship is working.

It’s not easy to remain friends with an ex, but it is possible. Be the type of friend you’d like to have in your life, and your ex is sure to follow by example.

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