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So, you want to be friends with your ex? Even though the camp is divided on whether this is a good idea, it’s a totally normal response to ending a relationship with someone you cared about. They were once an important part of your life. At the very least, you felt strongly enough about them to commit to a relationship. And if things got really serious, you might have started planning a future together. There was something that brought you two together, right? Right.

Before you get started, though, sparking a friendship with your ex is a pretty tremendous feat. Add in a new relationship to the mix and you’ve entered what could end up a big old mess. Feelings are all over the place, old relationship nostalgia runs rampant, and you’re left wondering why can’t this be easier.

The short answer: people are complicated. The other short answer? It doesn’t have to be easy. Relationships (yes, including friendships) are all about communication, empathy, and patience. This relationship is no different. The circumstances are.

A few foolproof tips:

Communicate

Communication is crucial when aiming to be friends with an ex (especially if you’re in a whole new situation). Talk things through to ensure there aren’t any lingering feelings that can make things awkward down the road.

Set Boundaries Early

This should be a natural next step in the communication process. Make sure you’re both on the same page and that boundaries aren’t inadvertently crossed once you two get comfortable with each other again.

Don’t Flirt

What’s the harm right? Well, plenty. What may seem like harmless reminiscing and a friendly embrace can send the wrong signal to your ex. Furthermore, you should consider how it would make your partner feel.

Read on for a few more things you need to consider before rekindling that friendship with your ex. 

Think about why you want to be friends with your ex 

As much as you may want to, you don’t need to be friends with every ex. Being able to maintain platonic relationships with exes isn’t something you get a trophy for. Sure you aren’t burning bridges, but you don’t need to be friends to be neutral toward each other. Remember that there was a reason why the relationship ended in the first place.

Dr. Jennifer Gunsaullus likes to judge a relationship by its intention. Why do you even want to be friends with your ex? 

“If it’s for practical reasons, like [you have] kids together or have to share the same spaces, that makes total sense,” Dr. Gunsaullus told The Zoe Report. “If it’s because you had a solid friendship and want to continue that, that makes sense as well.” 

If you’re trying to rekindle a friendship in the hopes that it leads to something else (like sex or a new relationship), then you’re not being honest with yourself, your ex, or — if you’re currently in a relationship — your partner. “You could be [confusing] the potential strength of a current relationship and hinder you from moving on,” Brooke Wise, dating expert and founder of Wise Matchmaking, told Elite Daily.

Happy black couple talking during meal at dining table.

Source: skynesher / Getty

Communicate with your partner before you befriend your ex

This is one of the most important steps to take before you befriend your ex while in a relationship. The last thing you want to do is undermine the role your current partner plays in your life by making the decision to bring someone back into your life.

Wise also notes that a friendship with an ex affects “three peoples’ emotions, and possibly four” if your ex is also in a relationship. The best thing you can do to remind your partner that you are being mindful of their emotions is to talk to them first. Measure their comfort level, and take their thoughts to heart especially if they aren’t in favor of the idea.

MUST READ: How To Break Up With A Sociopathic Narcissist Once & For All

Define boundaries before committing to a friendship with an ex

“We’re not just grieving our ex and what we had together, but also the future we thought we would have,” Dr. Valeria Chuba, sexologist and podcast host, told The Zoe Report. She reminds us that when a relationship ends, the dynamics can be very tricky.

You have to keep that in mind especially if you’re currently in a relationship. Since you’re building an idea of what your future looks like with someone new, dredging up ideas about a different future can lead to conflicting emotions.

When you and your ex start talking about entering a platonic relationship, make sure you have a candid conversation about your future and lay down some ground rules to keep you on track. This may seem like overkill, but it’s easier to fall into old habits and ideas than you think.

Being friends with your ex doesn’t give you permission to flirt with them

This falls into the realm of setting boundaries, but is especially important if you plan on being friends with an ex while in a relationship. It can be way too easy to fall back into old feelings and desires. Your shared history makes it a slippery slope, so it’s best to avoid intimacy of any kind physical and emotional. 

If you’re in a relationship, make sure you check yourself. If you wouldn’t say whatever you’re thinking about saying in front of your ex at the risk of sounding too flirty or intimate, then definitely don’t say it. And if you feel resistance to “censoring” yourself, then this next tip is for you.

Young afro american couple having fun with selfie stick

Source: tomazl / Getty

Don’t form a relationship with a past abuser

This absolutely affects your ability to form new relationships. If your relationship was abusive or even moderately volatile, do not pass GO. It’s best to leave that past in the past.

Don’t rush your partner in your quest to rekindle a friendship with an ex

Say you have a candid conversation with your partner and they’re okay with you being friends with your ex. That’s great! This is an ideal situation, but that conversation was only the beginning of what could be a very complex situation.

Not only do you have boundaries with your ex, but your partner may have set up some boundaries as well. That’s a lot to process. Think about the first time you played Monopoly. So. Many. Rules. And it probably took you a few plays to get them all down, right? This is the same situation, but it’s real life. Unlike this game, the rules can change. Your partner may not be as comfortable with the original rules. They may ask you to do less of “x” or realize they’re okay with “y.” A little patience will take you a long way.

What it all comes down to is respecting boundaries and not forcing your partner to hang out with your ex. Also key? Ensuring everyone is on the same page about reconciliation and making it clear that getting back together is not going to happen. 

SEE ALSO:

How To Recover From Dating A Narcissist

How Your Relationships Suffer If Your Parents Fought A Lot

 

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