Can we at least be friends?


Can we at least be friends? This is the most commonly asked question by couples when a relationship is coming to an end. Because let's be real, every ending is difficult and we all struggle with letting go. We end up trying to hold onto 'at least' the friendship. We tell each other we will always be there for one another. These cute words and promises always seem genuine. After all, you still care for each other, right? It was only minutes ago when you considered each other as lovers and as a happily ever after. How could your entire relationship go from such strong love and intimacy to being strangers? This is so hard to imagine.

Yet, it might be the only way to ever move on with your life. I know some people will disagree with this view as some of their exes are still in their lives as their close friends. This can happen, yes. Yet, this is not the norm, it is the exception.

But there are instances where we should not seek to be friends even. Under no circumstances a relationship that was abusive, manipulative, or toxic should transition into a friendship. But even if your relationship was generally healthy and didn’t work out, you might want to think twice before becoming friends. You need time away from each other and you need to re-enter the world as a single person. You need time and space to grieve the relationship and feel all the feelings. Even after the most amicable breakup, everyone needs time to work through the split and have some alone time so reflect on everything.

For the majority of us, trying to be friends with our ex partners is messy, complicated, and painful. Painful, especially, and this is why I try to understand if it’s something we should be pursuing in the first instance.

According to the experts, friendship with an ex is possible, but there’s a catch. You must both be willing to admit that you don’t work together as a couple. The romantic relationship between you two is not sustainable. Maintaining a healthy relationship after a break up requires partners to recognize what worked about the relationship and what didn't. If you can also see that what brought you together was a strong friendship, then it may be possible to re-build it.

This was the primary reason why I have never succeeded at being real friends with any previous partner. It takes me so long to get over heartbreak, months of hoping they will come back or regret it. Turning to psychic guidance or tarot readings on when our paths might cross again. In hindsight, I can now see that these activities hindered the healing process.

Author and Clinical Psychologist Dr. Sherrie Campbell suggests taking six months to a year of no contact to get over an ex before re-entering their lives and seeking friendship. “This way, you’re through the heartbreak feelings and will be able to handle seeing your ex with another person.” In other words, avoiding the feeling of jealousy.

But can you really let your ex go? If your honest answer is no, I promise, I will not judge. I, too, have spent many a nights stalking the social media accounts of my ex trying to create my own theories. There have also been times I have attempted to reconnect as “friends" but my real intentions always shined through sooner or later. 

If you also are trying to convince yourself that “being friends is better than nothing,” here are a few things to consider:

- There was a reason why you broke up. Whether we know it or not, breakups happen because there was a lack of alignment between you and your ex. You need to always remind yourselves of what brought you to the decision of breaking up.

- You end up being a back burner. Maintaining a relationship with your ex puts you at risk of being a back burner to that person. This can be so harmful for your self confidence and worth. It's so easy for your partner to find comfort in you as someone so familiar to them. Running back to you each time a potential flirt fails is common.

- Boundaries are critical! To stay in your ex’s life in a healthy way, you need to “establish boundaries with each other,” says a mental health counselor based in Florida. For example, you can agree to only reach out to each other via text message or meet occasionally. You cannot expect them to be available at all times like old days. They need to start re-gaining energies and re-building themselves up as an individual. Of course, if the relationship we are talking about is a marriage and there are kids involved; this is a completely different conversation.

Letting go of someone you still love is one of the hardest and most painful experiences. While there’s no right or wrong way to handle a breakup, clinging to the past and what "was" is not the best move. Getting over a break up does not happen in a day. You need to give yourself significant time and space to mourn the end of the relationship. That means letting yourself feel your emotions; whatever they are - sadness, frustration, rejection, resentment or some combination rather than bottling them up. If you’re still working through these feelings, you’re not ready to be friends with your ex yet.

Whatever you do, remember your heart is fragile, so proceed in a way you can protect it. So if being friends does not suit you for the time being, then don't. Remember to always honour your own feelings first before honouring some else's feelings.

I would say being friends with you ex is harder than you think and few couples achieve this. Bearing this in mind, I trust you will make the absolute best decision for you. One other thing you also need to remember is that time is still on our sides and sometimes it's best not to rush things.

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Globe trotter and eco-conscious curious travel photographer and influencer. I'm here to share my passion for life, travel, yoga, and anything healthy/conscious living related!


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