Maybe the two of you met at summer camp just before eighth grade. Maybe you met at a high school football game or at a party, a coffee shop or at a political rally. It isn’t important where you met, but that you met. And that the sparks flew.
One of you asked the other out on a first date, where you discussed literature and movies and each other’s interests. It was a lot of fun, and you agreed to go on another date. And another. And then another. Before long, he asked you to put your relationship on Facebook.
It was a big deal, because we all know it’s not official until it’s Facebook official.
You made him soup when he was sick. He bought your favorite childhood movie, and watched it with you. You went to parties and art galleries together. You became best friends.
But now, for one reason or another, things ended. The Facebook relationship was removed and you have to explain to your friends that you’ll be coming to that dinner party alone. And it sucks: You lost your significant other, and you are not exactly thrilled about that.
But you don’t have to lose the friendship. It can be very hard to move from the first phase, romance, to the second phase, friendship. But if both of you want to stay friends (and yes, it has to be both of you), here are three tips to help ease you into the next phase of your relationship.
1. Make sure you are both ready to just be friends. This seems kind of obvious, but if one of you is holding onto the hope that things will change and go back to how they were, it won’t work because someone will end up getting hurt. It might take time to get to this, so don’t try to rush into just being friends. Take as much time as you need.
2. Don’t plan on spending every minute together, but do carve out some time for each other. You shouldn’t spend all of your free time with your ex, because then it will feel like nothing has changed. But do set aside a regular amount of time to hang out. Perhaps this should be in a group setting at first, just so you don’t fall back into old habits.
3. Leave the past, in the past. She blew off your best buddy’s birthday party because she had something else to do, even though you were dating and you asked her to come. If you want to stay friends, you have to let the past go. You can’t dwell on things that went wrong during phase one if you want phase two to be a success.
It can be very hard to stay friends with an ex. Every situation is different and not every tip or suggestion you hear will apply to you. A lot of people say it is impossible to maintain a friendship and it’s not worth the hassle. But if keeping this person in your life is important to you, go for it. And if it turns out it’s not so important, check out our tips for getting past a break up.