Can you be friends with your ex? Absolutely. I am friends with every guy I have dated since the fifth grade. Of course, it gets easier as their sand box charms wear off with age. I’m still friends with my first real boyfriend in high school, who ended up marrying one of the girls with whom he cheated back then. I’m still friends with my first real college boyfriend; in fact, I’m besties with his wife! I “like” the pictures of their kids on social media. We comment on each others thoughts daily in those forums, and swap texts ever so often about things you only share with good friends.
I won’t lie and say that it’s all smooth sailing. There are two exes that outsiders think I shouldn’t be friendly with because if either of them tugged on my sleeve hard enough, they would definitely snag one of my heart strings – but I maintain these friendships because it’s easier than hating them, and trying to forget their existence. Though our friendship is wrapped in tape marked “fragile”, it doesn’t take away from the connection we try to keep. The only reason I decided to date them at all was because we had already built a strong friendship as a foundation before our subsequent romance. Not all exes deserve a friendship after the relationship ends, but even the ones that get to keep the other half of your BFF charm necklace have to adhere to certain guidelines. You did enjoy seeing each other naked at one point in time, after all.
So What Is The Most Important Thing When Attempting To Be Friends With Your Ex?
The most straight forward advice someone will give you after you ignored them when they insisted that being friends with an ex is a bad idea, is to draw a clear line. This line will represent the boundaries you won’t cross in order to maintain a genuine friendship. When there are dangling feelings from one or both parties, the line in the sand can be blown away with a swift wind. If you’re not careful when you are trying to redraw that line, you can get hit unexpectedly with a wave of old feelings. I have been hit with that wave so many times, I’m practically dripping all over my keyboard as I try to share my wisdom on this topic. The reason I would get blindsided and humiliated if the feelings were not requited, or hurt if we tried to work things out and it ended worse than the first time, is because I was too busy looking at everything but the line. Here is the one thing you need to remember to make yourself comfortable in the friend zone:
Familiarity Does Not Equal Soul Mate
The biggest mistake you make when we try to be friends with your ex, is mistaking comfort with consent. The first time I hung out with an ex after our breakup when he had just moved back to my area, and I figured I would extend an olive branch. We met up to see a stage play, then ate Middle Eastern cuisine at a cute restaurant we found while strolling through the city and memory lane. We hadn’t quite set a line, so somewhere between curtain call and shoveling food in my mouth with my hands as it was customary in the restaurant we sat in, I found myself gazing at my “friend” wondering why we couldn’t make it work.
In another incident, one of my exes suggested we watch a movie after I had a horrible day. As it went on we got more comfortable and I found myself cuddling with the best cuddler ever – before the credits rolled, I was contemplating if we could be the kind of friends who at least had a few benefits.
I refer to these two exes as my greatest loves — my Mr. Big and my Aiden Shaw. There is a magnetism there that brings us back to evaluating our friendship when we both find ourselves single and wondering why we ever broke up in the first place. The reason why we remain friends is because we know the answer to that question. We know why it didn’t work then, and why it won’t work now. We reminisce, then we end up talking about the unsuspecting person who has to date us next. We find it easier to root for each other than brood as the other moves on.
In both situations I was brought back down to reality. My theater companion was protecting the heart of someone he met when he moved away and my cuddle buddy had several cuddle buddies. The reality allowed me to remember that I keep them around because no one else can decipher the meaning of a dialogue in a play like my ex. No one can suggest a movie so I can be quiet for once and forget a horrible day like my other ex. They call on me for specific reasons as well because that’s what friends are for.
I don’t see anything wrong with choosing to give high fives to someone you used to hold hands with. One day I’ll be “liking” pictures of their kids on their social media profiles and swapping pie recipes with their wives like I do with the guys I considered to be great loves before them.