Being friends with someone you once loved and/or were intimate with is not as easy as they make it out to be in movies and TV shows. While some relationships are healthy and strong enough to change and adapt with time, most others are best left in the past.
So, if you’re wondering if you should stay friends with an ex, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before coming to any conclusion.
1. How long ago did the relationship end?
If it ended a few months ago, or even a year ago, maybe you need to give yourself time and space to consider the outcome, your feelings and the space between you two.
2. Are you still attracted to each other?
Be honest when you ask yourself this. It’s okay if you are. But, maybe then, staying friends isn’t the best idea.
Does how your relationship ended with this person still bother you? Did they hurt you? Does it still affect you? If the answer is yes, even to a small extent, you should take a step back to heal and truly move on.
4. How strong were your feelings when the two of you were dating?
Were they your first love? Was it your first time? Were you extremely intimate, passionate or possessive about each other? The stronger the feelings, the harder it is to simply move on, and the longer it will take for you to get over it. Factor this in before becoming friends with them.
5. Do you really want this person in your life in the long run?
This is one of the most important questions to ask. Do you see this person as a non-negotiable part of your life? Do you see them in your future, no matter what equation the two of you might share? If that’s the case, then maybe it is worth mending fences. If the answer is No, or ‘I don’t know’ yet, maybe give it time and space.
6. Are you good with and willing to set some boundaries for yourself as well as this person?
This is important. They are no longer your partner, you are no longer committed to each other. This means, you don’t get to check up on them every day, you don’t get to share important life changes, or decisions, or even minor inconveniences with them. Set boundaries on what you can and cannot share with each other now that you plan to stay just friends.
7. Have you moved on from your past with this person?
Moving on and letting go are not the same thing. There’s a John Mayer song about this, even. Moving on may not be voluntary, but letting go happens when you’re truly free of your past. So you need to gauge for yourself – have you let go of the past, or have you simply moved on?
8. Have you ever considered drunk texting them?
This is a no-brainer. If you drunk text your sex, or you someone you’re interested in, attracted to, or talking to – it means, the feelings are still there.
9. How do they make you feel now?
Are you comfortable meeting them in person? Or do they stir up memories, instances and feelings you thought you had overcome?
10. Have the two of you had an open and honest discussion about your feelings and moving on?
Before you decide to stay friends with an ex, it’s important for the two of you establish it’s what both of you want, not just one party. And if it is what both want, then you need to be settled on the reasons why you want it. Are they healthy and logical reasons, or are either of you still hoping you’ll get back together?
11. Would you have trouble explaining why you’re friends with them to other close friends and loved ones
Sometimes, our friends and loved ones see the problems and red flags sooner than we do. If our closest ones saw problems with your ex before you did, there are chances they’ll see through the friendship, too. If explaining why you want to remain friends feels like you’re lying to them and yourself, maybe you shouldn’t stay friends just yet.
12. How often do you plan to keep in touch as friends?
Friends and partners communicate differently, this is a given. And with an ex, this is tough territory to establish, specially knowing where the two of you have been, together. You don’t get to call them at 2 AM, you don’t get to ask them to come over every weekend, or bad day. You shouldn’t have to meet up or keep tabs on each other every day.
13. Be honest with yourself, is there any unfinished business?
Are their questions you still want answers to? Are there reasons you still don’t understand? Are you still hung up on the whys and hows of your relationship with your ex? If that’s an affirmative, friendship with them right now may not be the best idea.
14. How do you feel when they talk about seeing other people?
Do you feel jealous about it? Even if you are not a jealous person, sometimes when they talk about being with someone else, it stirs uncomfortable feelings. If that’s the case, you need to step away and reconsider staying friends with them.
15. How big is your mutual friends’ circle?
This can be a tricky one. You both may have a lot of common friends. You may frequently end up seeing each other. How comfortable are you with the common friends, or with seeing your ex more often than you’d choose to?
16. How do you feel about introducing them to someone you’re dating?
If you are genuinely over them, this may not be difficult. But, even if one of you feels it’s a bad idea, maybe you’re not ready to be friends yet.
17. Have you personally overcome whatever your emotions were after the breakup?
Indeed, breakups are vulnerable and can make us question our own selves. There are feelings to process and more often than not, it takes a lot of time for us to get through it all and really be in a healthy place. So take a lot of time before you decide to be friends with your ex.
Sometimes, we feel like we want to stay friends with our exes only because we’re so comfortable having them in our lives, deep down, we’re afraid to let go. We’ve all been there. While not every ex ends up being a good friend, some genuinely do. Others, it’s best to leave in the past.