Friendship with an ex is complicated but not impossible.

How to Deal With an Ex Who Wants a Friendship

by Scott Thompson

Some people can handle being friends with an ex under the right conditions, but many cannot. While some people will attempt to maintain friendship with an ex, others are firm believers in making a clean break when an intimate relationship ends. If your ex wants to be friends and you're not sure which of these categories you fit into, start by asking yourself some questions. And remember that while friendship with an ex may be complicated, it doesn't have to be impossible. At the end of the day, however, do what makes you feel comfortable.

1. What You Want

If your ex wants to establish a friendship, the first question to ask yourself is whether you would enjoy being friends with this person. Don't try to be friends with a person just because they want you to, whether you've dated them in the past or not. If your ex isn't the kind of person you would like to be friends with, you shouldn't feel pressured to form a friendship. If your ex mistreated you in some way that caused a lot of grief or pain, then you may not be emotionally ready to establish a friendship with him. If you basically like and respect your ex, then friendship may be possible.

2. Whether You're Over It

The next question to ask is whether you are really capable of being friends with your ex. If you are still holding on to romantic feelings from the past, trying to be friends with your ex is going to make those feelings even stronger. Rather than getting over the relationship in a few months and moving on, you could drag out an emotionally painful situation for years. If you're still daydreaming about getting back together, you aren't ready to be friends with your ex.

3. What Your Ex Wants

The next question you should ask yourself is what your ex really wants. If you're the one who ended the relationship, your ex may be secretly hopeful that you'll get back together. If your ex has an agenda, no attempt at friendship can possibly work and your ex will only end up getting hurt. You could spend time trying to work on a friendship only to have an awful scene when your ex finds out you've started dating someone else.

4. Setting the Ground Rules

If you want to be friends with your ex and you are confident that both of you can handle that, you should establish some guidelines to help keep you both out of trouble. You both need to treat the new relationship as a friendship rather than something else. Flirting or physical affection is a bad idea unless both of you are sure you actually want to be more than friends again. You can negotiate other boundaries as needed. Some people prefer not to talk about new relationships with an ex no matter how much time has gone by, while others are totally comfortable with it. Whatever boundaries you set with your ex, the friendship will be more successful if you both stick to the rules.

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