On Being Friends with Your Ex.

Research suggests that brain patterns after a breakup are similar to brain patterns of addiction.

If you are constantly thinking of your ex, perhaps even agonizing every time something reminds you of them — this is just a habit of your brain.

The best strategy you can adopt is to actually take a long time to make sure that your substance of addiction — A.K.A your ex — is out of your system. This ain’t going to happen if you stay friends.

It is very difficult. You are probably used to sharing lots of stuff together. Your ex might have been your best friend, too, which means you got to tell them all those little details about your everyday life that everyone else might be really bored to hear. But there’s no escape. You must resist your urge to contact them. Until when? Paradoxically enough, until you don’t want to hear from them again.

How can I resist the urge to contact my ex?

A month ago, the man I was involved with for the last three years and I separated. It was the most amicable separation in the history of the entire world, I am pretty sure. We were both positively certain we need to end our relationship in order to pursue a relationship that will suit us better. I know that decision was best for both of us. And yet… I still think about him every day. Multiple times a day. And that’s totally understandable. Our lives were quite intertwined for some three years now, and I don’t expect to completely stop thinking about him within the course of one month.

I also know, that if I did contact him, there’s a good chance I will spin myself into a torturous spin of questioning our decision to move apart. And I really don’t want to be there. Truth be told, that’s what happened to us the last two times we broke up, and we got back together again, knowing perfectly well it is not what we sincerely believe was best for us.

When I consider the cost the immediate relief from the pain of missing him right this very moment, I stop myself from contacting him. Instead, I remind myself why we needed to break up, and what I require from a relationship that he won’t be able to provide.

A few strategies to avoid contacting your ex are:

Mind you, these will not help you get over the heartache. Dealing with the pain is a completely different topic, which deserves another article. Although, obviously, there’s some correlation.

Create lots of other options: Call your other friends and family instead of your ex. If they had enough of hearing your sobs, you can vent out at supportive internet forums, and if you’re feeling completely out of it, seek the help of a good therapist.

Distractions: Fill your life with stuff you enjoy. Go back to your hobbies, develop new ones, or just go hang out with your friends. The more memories that have nothing to do with your ex, the better.

Date again: I know that some dating experts recommend starting dating as soon as possible. It’s not my preference though. We make poor choices and we could get ourselves and our new date into more heartbreak. 

Remind yourself that the urge to contact your ex is an addiction: When you truly understand that, you will understand that you won’t be able to get over your ex if you contact them. And that’s not what you want.

What if I want to get back together with them?

I know this sounds ridiculous, but you first need to get over your obsession with your ex. Only then you will be in a position to see clearly if your ex is a good match for you or not. You will also be strong enough to assert the conditions in which you will get back together. You do not want to go back to your ex if your relationship will not change for the better. Even if you think your relationship was the most amazing thing ever, if there was a breakup, it means that at least your ex thought differently. So don’t get back there.

When is a good time to be friends with my ex again?

When you can imagine your ex telling you that they found the love of their life and you can feel sincerely happy for them, you are probably ready.

Last time my ex and I broke up, we contacted each other and he told me he is dating again. I was happy for him, sure, but as for myself, I was still in pain. At the end of that phone call in which I realized they are actually serious, I sat in the corner of my room and my stomach turned over while I was sobbing loudly. Not a pretty sight… And that’s even though I was happy for him.

You know you can be friends again when you feel at ease with the notion of meeting your ex with their new partner, even if you don’t have a new partner yet. And when I say at ease, I mean at ease. No faking it just so that your ex thinks you’re really cool.

Is it even necessary to be friends with my ex?

Absolutely not.

There’s a good reason that your relationship didn’t work. 

Sometimes, that reason is that you don’t get along with each other anymore. At times, being infatuated or obsessed with each other clouded the simple fact that you don’t have that many things in common. That you don’t see eye to eye when it comes to how to conduct yourselves in the world.

Sure, when you have kids together, being friends is very beneficial. But make sure you actually want to be friends with your ex. If you’re only friends for the sake of the kids, you might want to consider just being friendly to your ex. That means you can be very nice to each other: civil, respectful, and considerate, without needing to spend lots of time together if it’s not something you really want to be doing.

I still want to be friends with my ex.

If you are OK with everything mentioned in this article and you still want to be friends with your ex, please consider their wellbeing as well. If you truly care for them, you will respect their healing process and you won’t contact them until they are ready for it. How do you know when they are ready if you don’t contact them?… Good question. Perhaps wait until they contact you first (although that does not mean they are over you yet).

And perhaps it’s time you let go of the need of being friends with your ex.