Friendship after being lovers - Can it work?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP
24th January, 20180 Comments
Ok, so you've broken up!
Who broke up with whom? Was it amicable? So you want to be friends straight afterwards? And nobody secretly is hoping that you'll realise the error of their decision and will come running back into the others arms?
These are all very important questions you should know the answer to before considering whether you can remain friends after being lovers. What I have often found is that one person wants it more than the other.
If you both decided to break up amicably, or where one person made the decision to leave the relationship and did this in the best way possible to spare the others feelings, then you have more chance of the friendship being successful.
If the break up was sudden or done with malice or anger then I would question why you wanted to be friends anyway! Would you be happy with a friend treating you that way? No! Then what gets them off the hook for their poor behaviour?
If you're hoping that you can wriggle out of your new position in the friend zone and become lovers again then you might waste a lot of time trying to make this happen to no avail. This can be particularly painful if you find yourself getting mixed messages or you've decided to become a friend with benefits.
Being friends straight after a break up can be particularly hard as some of us need a bit of distance to get over the loss and the vision of the hoped for future with the other. Not everyone is like this, but then I would question how close were you to the other person if you didn't need time to get over the pain of the break up!
If you really want to be friends after being in a relationship then it can be helpful to put some boundaries in place, mainly for yourself. Sleeping together while trying to be friends can totally mess with your head so it might be wise to give that a miss.
Mixed signals should be challenged as that is not fair on the other person. If you're still hoping for reconciliation then be honest about that, at least to yourself and possibly to the other person. Think about how you are going to feel when the other has moved on to a new relationship; will this mess with your friendship? If yes, then you might need more time or rethink the idea entirely.
If kids or pets are involved then you have to find a way of being around each other but that doesn't mean you have to be friends straight away, you just need to be civil.
Most importantly, if you are the one who has been dumped, it's ok to ask for some time to think about whether to be friends. It's a knock back when this happens and you're allowed to be upset and to have time to process this.
Being friends after a relationship is possible but it's always good to make sure you're doing it for the right reasons and to keep checking in with yourself that your feelings are still platonic and only you can know that. If you find yourself pining for you ex then take some space and think about your feelings for a while and it's ok to change your mind. If it's hurting you then you don't have to pretend that everything is fine.
About the author
I am Marilyn McKenzie and I am a qualified Psychotherapist who has worked with Couples, Addiction, DV, Young Offending, Grief and Bereavement as well as Anxiety and Depression.
I am Integrative in my approach but often work Systemically. I have a private practise and work with Relate.
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