How to Get Along With Your Ex After a Breakup
Getting along with your ex may be necessary if you have mutual friends, children, or for professional reasons. However, aside from adjusting to others outside the relationship, maintaining a positive relationship with your ex can be a beneficial and mature way for both of you to acknowledge that while the person is not romantically appropriate, they are still someone you value. It’s not easy – and not always appropriate depending on the reasons for your breakup – but there are some things you can do to make the transition from a breakup to a fulfilling friendship more smooth. Or at least civil relations.
Handle the gap right
A good relationship after a breakup begins with the breakup itself. Be honest and honest about why you are breaking up. Ambiguity can lead to festering anger and resentment, making it harder to befriend or even be polite afterwards. Of course, this is less likely if there is some kind of betrayal that has never been resolved ; it assumes that there is an identifiable and irreconcilable difference that makes the relationship unacceptable for either one or both of you. If you can balance politeness, honesty, and respect during the breakup, you are much more likely to forge a friendship after the initial resentment has faded. You or your ex may disagree with the breakup, but understanding how each other feels can help in the future when both of you have enough emotional distance to start building a friendship.
Take time to adjust
It takes commitment for a serious relationship to work, and breaking up after this kind of emotional investment is always painful. Give yourself time to adjust to a new life away from each other. This can mean some time apart and with little interaction, depending on your needs, as you deal with that pain and put your new normal life together, apart from each other. This works best when both you and your ex-partner know what to expect, which means some communication in the front-end about what types of communication are comfortable for you and how often.
Eventually, you will naturally begin to find your social circles and build relationships with mutual friends that do not involve “pairing parties” and “double dates.” You may even take the time to do what you’ve always wanted to do, but for some reason you felt like your previous relationship got in the way.
After a while, you may even find that you don’t really want to be friends anymore, allowing you both to happily go their separate ways. But if you’ve decided you want to stay friendly, you’d better get some space first. When you reconnect, it will be a little easier for you to see yourself as individuals and not feel responsible for each other or influence each other’s actions too much.
Leave Past Arguments Behind
This is easier said than done, as most relationships have some kind of resentment that can be difficult to get rid of soon after. You and your ex will not soon forget the personal sacrifices you made to each other, or even the minor troubles you went through. You may even harbor resentment about the breakup itself. It’s important to remember that if your goal is to be friendly or polite, you must act accordingly. It can be as simple as greeting each other politely when you see each other in public, or offering help when you hear they need it.
When you meet again, your ex will not be a different person. Inevitably, triggers will arise that will force you to rephrase old arguments . Just remember, now that you’ve parted ways, you no longer need to win these battles. If they are no longer relevant, bet on the need to get along, rather than the need to let your ex-partner know that you were right.
Offer – but don’t impose – friendship
Even if you want to make friends after your relationship ends, your ex may not want to – or he may not be ready. Be mindful of the amount of time it takes for both of you to feel comfortable seeing each other continue to live their lives. Let your ex know that you want to be friends, and be friendly to show it, but don’t force him to. Brittany Wong of The Huffington Post explains :
You might not be able to continue your PvP battles in World of Warcraft over the weekend, and the taco truck will drive by months after the split, but your ex may feel the same way. Raise the topic of friendship carefully and respect your ex’s decision if he or she admits that they are not ready to be close again.
Not sure how to submit a friendship request after separation? Here is the language one Redditor suggested using : “Instead of ending it with ‘can we be friends? “It should be more like a door left open:” I still want to be friends. I’ll be there too if you want. It’s not so much a commitment / pressure as a soft offer. “
If and when your ex is ready, they will accept your offer. Until then, it’s better not to rush. Leave the door open, but try to relieve the pressure your ex might have about whether and when to walk through. Each of you needs to make an individual decision, and no matter what is made, respect for this choice bodes well for both the present and the future in which this friendship is possible.
Respect each other’s decisions to move on
Whether it takes two weeks or two years, the first meeting with an ex with someone can prick at least a little. It is important that you do not approach your ex asking for friendship until you are ready to respect that he is gone . Be honest with yourself about whether you can handle seeing them with another partner and act accordingly. Dr. Nerdlov , a blogger and dating coach (who is not really a doctor), explains:
In the early days of trying to rekindle friendships, it’s okay not to want to know a lot about your ex’s dates – as long as you admit they exist. Trying to get them to pretend that this side of their life doesn’t exist, just to spare your feelings, is immaturity and selfishness. You can tell them that you would rather not talk about a new partner (yet), but if you are going to erase them from an existing one, then you need to put on your grown-up pants and deal with it.
Over time, you will feel more comfortable in a new relationship with your ex. Their new partners may not want to be your friend (you are their ex, after all), but kindness can help avoid negativity and ease embarrassment.
Understand that this may not happen.
Sometimes, of course, you just can’t be friends with your ex. The breakup was ugly, the ex’s new love interest is jealous, or you still can’t get along. The truth is, the relationship with your ex is not entirely under your control, and that applies to both of you. If you apologized and kindness where they should be, offered to be friends and didn’t get anything in return, then you may have to accept that and let each other go. Maybe your ex just needs more time, or maybe you do. Accepting the chance that you can completely give up each other’s lives is part of the breakup, too.
This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated in 2020 to include additional context and to align with Lifehacker’s style guidelines.