As the popular saying goes, breaking up is definitely hard to do. You invested all this time in this person. You hoped that things would work out (hopefully forever) and you never thought you would see the day when they weren’t around to support you, cheer you up, and hold your hand.
But now that things are over for good, do you really have to cut them out of your life? What if you just can’t see yourself doing that?
Good news: you don’t have to say goodbye to this person that you cared about for so long. While you’re not together romantically anymore, you can still stay friends. Sure, being friends with an ex may be easier said than done, but it’s still possible. Here’s how to do it.
1) Don’t focus on the past
The absolute worst thing you can do is talk or even think about the past when you want to continue being friends with an ex. It’s going to make this new friendship a total and complete disaster before things have even really started.
You’re not still dating this person. You’ve essentially been taken down a notch in their life, and you’ve done the same thing to them. They’re not the person that you turn to when you need help or to talk after a really rough day, and you’re not going to play that role in their life, either.
This means you can’t talk about that amazing vacation you guys took last summer or even bring up any inside jokes that you two share. That’s going to make you wonder if things could have worked out when you know very well that you broke up for a reason.
Dwelling on the past is usually a bad idea, and it definitely will do more harm than good right now.
2) Don’t talk about your love lives
Like it or not, if the two of you are going to stay friends, that means that you’re going to start dating other people. And you’re probably going to meet people that you really care about and want to try to seriously date. That means falling in love and having a real love life.
So how do you deal when you’re still being friends with an ex and you’re each in a new relationship? It’s pretty simple: you don’t talk about your love life. You just don’t. It’s only going to result in resentment and jealousy.
Okay, so it’s not really that easy after all, but it’s definitely worth it if maintaining this friendship is something that matters to you both. You can’t name drop your new guy or talk about the movie you both just saw or the trip that you’re planning.
It may seem like you’re hiding things from your ex or like you’re not being honest with him – and yeah, you kind of are doing that – but it’s for the greater good.
Plus there’s the fact that you really don’t want to hear about his new girlfriend. You just don’t.
3) Think group hangs only
Sure, you used to see this person all the time, even though it always felt like you couldn’t possibly spend enough time together. But now that things are different and way more platonic, that means that you should only be hanging out in a group situation.
This will honestly and truly make things much less awkward. You won’t have to think about how normally you two would be cuddling on the couch watching the latest Netflix craze or spending all of Sunday afternoon in bed.
You’ll be around other people and your other friends can distract you and make things a million times easier. Phew.
4) Be respectful
You cared about this guy once, and you probably still do if you’re even considering keeping him in your life. So you definitely want to be respectful of him.
Don’t ever bring up the break-up or try to make him feel bad. Chances are he feels horrible enough since you probably do too. You both should realize that you’re good people, you’re just not the right people for each other, and you’re better off as friends than lovers.
That means being polite to him at all times because you never know how much he could still be hurting. And you want the both of you to have the best chance possible of moving on.
5) Only do this if you’re over him
You probably already know that staying friends with an ex when you’re still totally head over heels for him is not the best idea in the world. In fact, it’s probably the worst thing that you could possibly do… both for yourself and for him.
You don’t want to spend all your time thinking about him and texting him your random life updates, wondering if he feels the same way and if you two have a second chance. You’re just going to confuse yourself and feel terrible, and you don’t need that.
6) Stop texting him
On that note, you should definitely stop texting your ex altogether. This will stop you both from slipping into old habits, especially if you two were used to communicating mostly through text messages. He doesn’t need to know your every move and thought anymore and you don’t need to know that stuff about him, either.
It’s pretty impossible to text a member of the opposite sex on a regular basis without it becoming kind of flirty, so it’s best to steer clear of this form of communication.
You can definitely comment on his Instagram posts or Facebook status updates every once in a while, but keep it brief and friendly, not flirty.
7) Protect yourself
The thing is that sometimes, despite your best intentions and despite all your effort to totally move on, you might miss your ex sometimes. This is especially true depending on how long you two were together.
This is totally okay – and it’s even normal. You’re only human, after all. So give yourself a break and don’t forget to protect yourself. If that means avoiding your ex for the next week or so until you feel better, that’s totally fine.
8) Expect things to change
Of course, you know that things won’t feel the same between the two of you. But knowing that and really understanding it are two totally different things.
Don’t be upset if your ex doesn’t single you out in a crowded room or at a party to talk to you, or if you feel like he’s not paying enough attention to you.
The truth is that you’re right, he’s not paying that attention to you… and that’s a good thing. That’s what you want. Remember that it would be strange if he was still acting like you were a couple since you’re not.
9) Stay classy
At the end of the day, you want there to be no negative emotions between you and your ex-boyfriend. That means staying classy no matter what.
If a mutual friend jokes that you two still seem to like each other and should get back together, smile and shrug the comment off. If he teases you like he always does, do the same thing, because you don’t want to encourage his flirty behavior since the goal is friendship, not starting things back up again.
It may sound strange to think about being professional when it comes to someone that you used to date, but it’s really the best way to approach this.
You’re entering a new phase of your relationship and that means always being polite and friendly but not oversharing. It’s kind of like how you don’t want your boss to know everything about you, or how you want to hide certain things on social media.
10) Listen to your gut
How comfortable you are always matters, whether you’re dating someone new, dealing with a work situation, or trying to stay friends with your ex. If he’s still pretending that you’re a couple, you have every right to tell him to stop. Same goes if he’s still contacting you way too often.
And if you decide that friendship is not the best road for the two of you to go down, you can absolutely feel free to change your mind. This only works if you are all in and if you feel this is the right thing. Don’t feel guilty if this doesn’t end up being a good idea.
Staying friends with someone that you were once crazy in love with isn’t easy, but it can be worth it if you parted amicably and still care about each other.
Stick to these guidelines and you might just realize that the two of you are definitely better off as friends. And then you have the best of both worlds: you can keep someone around that means a lot to you but stay open to new (and hopefully longer lasting) love.
Have you ever stayed friends with an ex-boyfriend? How do you feel about this issue? Let us know in the comments below!