It started with an innocent Facebook friend request, then texting, plans to hang out, and next thing you know you're finding yourself in a "friends with an ex" situation. Yes, you had something special, yes you broke up, but now you've moved on. But do you really want to JUST be friends with your ex? Or are you hoping deep down you guys will eventually get back together?
Being friends with an ex is possible, but it can get tricky, especially if there are still feelings involved. We got some advice from relationship coach and author of It's a Match! The Guide to Finding Lasting Love Natalie Moore, on how to stay friends with your ex and still keep your sanity.
Why did you break up?
If you had a bad breakup, the chances of you and your ex having a healthy friendship are slim because someone might still be holding some animosity toward the other. "It really depends on where the ex is now, how intense the relationship was, and how healthy the breakup was," says Moore. "Let's say you caught your ex with another girl. That would be considered a nasty breakup and, frankly, that's very hard to get past."
Sex is no longer an option
In order to have a healthy, platonic relationship with your ex, sex has to be off the table. "Don't put yourself in situations where it would invite sex," says Moore. "Don't drink a lot together, don't hang out at each other's apartments, avoid situations that would ultimately lead to sex." Because let's be honest: If you're sleeping together you're not really "friends."
There can't be feelings on either end
"If someone or both people still have emotional or even sexual feelings for each other, then you really don't have a friendship," says Moore. "What's the difference between a relationship and a friendship if there's sex involved?" Good point!
Make sure that person doesn't have a hidden agenda
Your ex might say he just wants to be friends, but he might actually be trying to win you back. Moore suggests seeing how he reacts to you dating other people. "If they're cool with it, then you know they don't have a hidden agenda. But if they start badmouthing the person afterward, then that might be a clue that they still have feelings for you,” she says.
You also can't have a hidden agenda
"If you have this hope that in the future things will work out, then you're clearly not over this guy, which means you're not available for anybody else," says Moore. "If you're that girl, then you can't have a friendship with this guy because you'll never be available for anybody else while he's already moving on." Staying friends with an ex you still have feelings for only makes it harder to move on with your life.
Forgiving doesn't mean you have to be friends
It's one thing if you have mutual friends, or work in the same place, or live in the same town. But if none of those factors apply to you, don't force a friendship with your ex just because. "Forgiveness doesn't mean you have to be friends, it just means he no longer lives rent-free in your head," says Moore. "It's okay to not want to stay in touch."