7 questions to ask yourself before becoming friends with an ex
Sure, we all want to do the ‘mature’ thing when it comes to breakups. But how mature is it to obsessively check up on your ex and dissect their Facebook status updates? Rita Klachkin and Janet Ong Zimmerman believe that while some people can remain friends with their ex, and have it turn into an enriching and longstanding friendship, these relationships are few and far between. In most cases, even the relationships that turn into friendships need some time and distance before they can turn into true friendships.
You may think that your connection with an old flame can transition naturally to non-romantic feelings, but the reality of it isn’t so easy. Denying what the relationship meant to you, however, and trying to push down feelings in the hope of ‘being mature’ is not the way to go. We all need time and space to process change in our lives, such as the breakdown of a relationship. In cases of divorce, certainly it is better for those who must co-parent to be on speaking terms and civil with each other, especially in front of the children. But true friends? That’s a different story.
When a breakup happens because one person no longer wants to be in the relationship, trying to be friends rarely works because the other person is consumed by thoughts of the other, stuck in the nostalgia of lost love and hoping they will reconcile. If your ex broke up with you and you still aren’t over them, it’s best to sever all ties. Since you are in a more vulnerable position, you may end up hanging out and hooking up in hopes that they’ll come back while fooling yourself into thinking you can be friends.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you navigate these rough waters and decide if you can really be friends:
1. Have I stopped fixating on this person?
2. When I think about him/her, do I feel neutral?
3. Can I talk about them without crying or becoming emotional?
4. Am I over him/her and what we had?
5. Do I genuinely like them as a person?
6. If he/she wasn’t my partner, would they be the kind of person I would normally hang out (not hook up) with?
7. Does the thought of this person being with someone else make me feel genuinely happy for them?
If some or all of your answers are ‘no’, work on healing yourself until you feel good about yourself and your new life. If you still want to be friends, hold off until your answers are ‘yes’. This will help you see things objectively instead of being caught up in the way things were and wishing you were still together. By holding off, you may even find that you don’t need to be friends in the end.
Here’s a final consideration: if you’re in a promising relationship, be respectful to your new significant other. If you have stayed friends with your ex and the new person in your life feels uncomfortable about this, it may be best to let go of your friendship with your ex so that your new relationship can thrive.
This article originally appeared on eHarmony Blog.
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