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How to go from ex to friend in 5 steps

ex to friend

Let’s be friends

Ouch.

If you’ve ever heard these words you know how hard they are to hear.

They’re also hard to say especially if you deeply care for the other person and still want them in your life. I’ve found myself on both the receiving end and the….opposite of the receiving end. Either way it’s gonna be hard.

How do we switch from sharing the same bed to having lunch every now and then? There can be so much pain at the end of a relationship. Is it really possible to transition to friendship?

I’ve had many lovers but only a few long term girlfriends. The big loves in my life have being incredibly loving and amazing women. My life is so much richer for having known them so why end it all because we’re no longer compatible partners? Isn’t it better to have them around in whatever capacity works for both of us than to have no relationship at all?

Whether I was getting dumped or doing the breaking up I’ve come to realize that it’s absolutely possible to transition to friendship – if you’re mature enough to handle it.

It wasn’t always easy but it’s always been 100% worth it. Here are 5 takeaways that can help you turn an ex lover into a great friend.

5 ways to be friends with your ex

1. Don’t turn the lasers on each other!

I’m often reminded of the quote “We hurt the ones we love the most”. Might be a song lyric actually. I couldn’t find the original quote but you get the gist.

Towards the end of a relationship it’s pretty common to turn the lasers on each other. I’ve done it. I’ve gotten furious. I’ve screamed at my partner. I’ve hung up on them, sent them nasty texts, brought back old petty arguments. The list goes on ad nauseam.

If you can avoid acting childish at the end of the relationship there’s a good chance you can salvage it and transform it into a friendship – eventually.

2. Take a period of no contact

The best thing you can do after a breakup is take a period of no contact. No matter how long I’ve been dating someone a period of no contact is mandatory. Time heals all wounds. It’s true – but you actually have to give it time for it to work.

It’s going to be hard, it’s going to hurt, and it’s going to suck but it will absolutely make the transition to friendship possible.

This means no calls, no texts, no emails, no IM. No swinging by because you were in the neighborhood (lies). No dropping soup off at work. Absolutely no booty calls! No contact means LITERALLY NO CONTACT.

1 week of no contact for every month that you were dating is a good starting point. Remember that all relationships are different. I dated a women for 6 months and needed 2 years to really get over it. If you’re not over the relationship – you’re not ready for friendship.

3. Slowly reintroduce time together

After a period of no contact check in with yourself.  Do you think talking or having coffee with your ex would be nice? If it would still feel charged – take more time.

When ready reach out and see how they feel about getting together. Make the first meeting low stakes. Avoid the places you used to frequent together and opt for something new. A new cafe or a walk in the park. Take it easy and take it slow.

4. Set Boundaries

If things are progressing well and you start spending some time together you might want to set some ground rules. Think of the things you wouldn’t want to hear from them, and make it a point not to share those same things with her.

If you don’t want to hear about her new boyfriend then don’t bring up your new girlfriend either. Every relationship is different so what might be a trigger for you might not be a trigger for her. Talking about new partners might not be a big deal at all. Check in with each other.

5. Keep It Platonic

Ever heard a song about getting back together? You haven’t because they don’t exist. That shit don’t work.

OK, fine. “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb.

Reunited, and it feels so good
Reunited ’cause we understood
There’s one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited ’cause we’re reunited, hey, hey

But that’s the only one and yet there are thousands of songs, books, and movies about breakups.

People break up for a reason and it’s sometimes hard to remember that reason. Our brains are great at forgetting painful stuff and remembering the good times. Resist the urge to rekindle the romance. There’s probably nothing there but pain if you do decide to hop back in bed. Whatever – you’re probably gonna try but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Is it worth it?

Fuck yea! Becoming friends with you ex can be an amazing and rewarding experience, if it’s done right. It’s certainly not for every relationship but it’s almost always worth it to keep a loved one around. You can’t have too much love in your life. We need all the love we can get.


 Shaun Galanos is the The Love Drive. He lives and writes in Montreal.

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Shaun Galanos

Shaun Galanos is The Love Drive. He believes we all deserve love and works to help men (and women) develop more intimate relationships through honest and playful communication.

He lives, writes, and makes videos in Montreal.

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