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Can you really be friends with your ex?

I hope we can still be friends.

How many times have you said this at the end of a romantic relationship? More importantly, how many times have you actually stayed friends with them?

A breakup or divorce can be one of the most painful, emotionally stressful, and disruptive experiences in life. Whatever be the reason for the fallout and whether it was amicable or not, a failed relationship can launch you into uncertainty, trauma, and a mix of other negative emotions.

While there is no definitive right or wrong way to handle the end of a relationship, be it a breakup or a divorce, we all approach it differently. Some of us may want to forget the bad and salvage whatever good when a relationship ends, while others in a toxic or abusive relationship would rather prefer to move on and never look back, which may be for the best under the circumstances.

The untimely death of a romantic relationship is hard, as “A breakup can be worse than a bereavement,” says Miles Pulver, a relationship therapist. Letting go of the one you loved, bonded so closely with, invested portions of your life in, can be agonising. Perhaps, that is why experts around the globe advice to keep a distance from an ex-partner until the wounds are healed. But the real question is, do you have to let go of that bond completely? What if, you could still be in each other’s lives, albeit differently?

Avoid social awkwardness

If you’ve been together for a long time, you most likely have mutual friends. At times, couples develop a close relationship with their partner’s friends or family that could make the separation even worse. Staying friends, or at least civil, could help preserve social harmony in the community you both share and avoid the awkwardness of being in the same space.

You were better off as friends

Some couples delve into a romantic relationship after being good friends. Such couples, usually, find it easier to go back to being friends if the relationship fails. If you and your partner are one such couple, you don’t have to give up a perfectly healthy friendship that you once cherished, just because the relationship didn’t work. It is a sign of maturity and sensibility to realise whether a relationship is good for you both or not and deciding its future accordingly.

Friends with your ex

Despite choosing to go separate ways, it is possible to still be friends with your spouse.

You do it for the kids

When the divorce proceedings have you pitted against each other, you view each other as enemies and any form of future alliance seems impossible. But when children are involved, your ex-spouse is still the co-parent and it is in the best interest for everyone to be on good terms. Despite choosing to go separate ways, it is possible to still be friends with your spouse.

Take some time off, mourn the loss of your relationship, and then attempt the re-acquaintance. Not only will you and your partner be setting a good example for the kids, providing stability and jointly attending to your child’s needs, you will also be able to make joint decisions for the future of the child you both so dearly love.

Why lose your confidant?

Partners support each other through thick and thin. When one stumbles, the other remains ready to pull them up. That’s what makes two people perfect for each other. But in the face of a breakup or divorce, taking advice, support, and help from an ex can seem uncomfortable. In such a case, here’s a perspective to consider—If you trusted and respected your partner’s advice once, then there is no reason to not do it again. It is hard to find someone you can count on, so if your partner is your confidant, then that’s a great reason to preserve your friendship.

Relationship Memories

By seeing your relationship as a total loss, you could taint all the memories, even the good ones.

Why burn bridges when you can mend them?

In life, we’ve all been told at least once to never burn bridges unless it is the only way out. Be it a job or a relationship, aim towards ending it on a positive note, lest you’ve to return to it someday. Being forgiving and compassionate not only makes the end easy on you but also paves the way for your romantic relationship to transform into a platonic friendship. But don’t do it with the hope to rekindle the lost romance in the future, since it will only lead to more complications. Do it to be civil, polite, and respectful to one another.

Steer clear from the Wasted Years syndrome

Feeling remorse behind the time invested in a relationship that eventually failed, best describes the Wasted Years syndrome. By seeing your relationship as a total loss, you taint all the memories and the shared history, even the good ones. A change in perspective can ease you into the changing equation of your relationship. Being friends with your ex ensures your memories remain untainted and acceptance of the good and the bad ones will make it easier to sometimes revisit the old memories, to cherish them and learn from them.

While no two relationships are the same, the reasons for being friends can be common. Some do it for social reasons, while many do it for their own mental peace. Whatever be your reason, as long as the intentions are true and free of any ulterior motives you don’t have to remove your ex from your life. You really can be friends with them.

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