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How to Stay Friends with an Ex

You've heard it before: "Can we still be friends?" But this time, you actually mean it. Here's how to make it work.


  • Step 1: Give it time Give it time. Right after the breakup, agree not to see each other for a while. No matter how amicable your split was, breakups are always painful. Allow time for wounds to heal before approaching the subject of friendship.
  • Step 2: Make a clean break Resist the temptation to call them every time you're having a bad day or see something that reminds you of them. To make a clean break, you need to learn to live without them. Otherwise, neither of you will truly be able to move on, or transition into a real friendship.
  • TIP: Do not have sex with your ex; it violates boundaries and can ruin your chances of ever becoming friends.
  • Step 3: Examine your motives Ask yourself why you want to stay friends. Do you feel guilty for dumping them? Are you lonely? Do you secretly want to get back together? If so, you're not ready. Make sure you're in it for the right reasons before initiating contact.
  • TIP: Starting a new romance with someone else before you try to strike up a friendship with your ex can help boost your confidence and avoid the temptation of getting back together.
  • Step 4: Make contact Start by sending a friendly email. Suss out your ex's willingness by casually suggesting coffee or lunch. Meet in a public place during daylight hours – there's less of a chance for drama.
  • Step 5: Know your boundaries Keep the topics of discussion to safe, neutral topics. Forbidden topics include: what went wrong with your relationship, any new romantic involvement of yours or theirs, and their personal life.
  • Step 6: Stick with it Be patient. There's a reason things didn't work out between the two of you; being friends instead of lovers doesn't necessarily make those issues disappear. But there's also a reason you're drawn to each other, and if you both stick with it, you can form a lasting friendship.
  • FACT: One study found that men take breakup much harder than women do.

You Will Need

  • Time apart
  • Sensitivity
  • A willing ex

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