Staying friends with an ex can be a wonderful thing. Maybe you mutually broke up because a compromise wasn’t possible (only one of you wanted children or you relocated for a job, for example), but you still cherish the connection you had. And let’s be honest, having a few exes around to vouch for you does reassure future partners that you aren’t a holy nightmare when things go south.
But staying friends with an ex is all about timing. Do it too soon, and you’ll tank any hopes for a future friendship.
1) It literally JUST happened
Even if it wasn’t a difficult breakup, you need time to reframe this in a new way, with new patterns of communication.
2) It will crush you if they start dating again
When they move on, will it absolutely devastate you? Don’t try to use your friendship as a shield to block them from dating again. It won’t work. If you’re not ready to see them with a new person who will make them happy, then maybe you aren’t ready to be friends with your ex.
3) You are secretly hoping they will take you back
Or maybe not so secretly. Once you’re in “the friend zone,” there is a great chance you’ll stay there. Or worse, you’ll end up being each other’s last resort. No thanks!
4) You’re playing detective
Don’t use the friendship to keep tabs or try to “crack the case” on suspicions you had. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to analyze every move to see if they really DID have a crush on that friend from work before you broke up.
5) You can’t imagine life without your ex
That probably has more to do with your pain than the way you really feel about your ex. By staying away from each other until you are truly ready, you’ll come back with healthy boundaries when you’re ready to be friends with an ex.
6) One of you is going to make a move
If you can’t keep your hands off each other, even though you know this is a bad idea, maybe cool it on the friendship for a while. Channel that energy into a fling with someone new!
7) You’re using the friendship to heal from the breakup
Friends are wonderful for healing from a breakup— just not this one. It’s healthy for both of you to establish independence that will let you have a friendship in the future.