15 August 2017

Something a little different on the blog today... It's a question I've been asked a few times, often with incredulity and occasionally with curiosity. Read on to found out my take and tips on the topic.

There was a reason you dated this person in the first place. You liked them on a basic human level - their personality, their values, their little quirks. They were your friend as well as your partner. And just because the romantic parts are over, doesn't mean the platonic parts have to be. 

While most people think it's pretty damn weird, I think that being friends with your ex is very much possible and totally awesome. Of course, this is all very dependent on a variety of different factors and circumstances surrounding your relationship. Every situation is unique and no two people will deal with this in the same way. I'm lucky enough to have been in a few situations that have worked out for the better. So if you're wanting to give it a crack, I've found that the following few points are pretty essential for the transition from relationship to friend zone:

1. The breakup was (relatively) amicable
All breakups suck. There is really no way around it. But in order for your friendship to survive, it would have ideally been a "that was terrible but it'll be okay" kind of situation, as opposed to a "I hate you and I never want to see you ever again" kind of situation.

2. Neither person did anything horrible to the other
This could include (but is not limited to): cheating, physical abuse, stealing the jointly owned pet, purposely destroying each other's car/phone/other expensive asset, sleeping with the other's sister/brother/other family member, etc etc. Basically, if you did anything to hurt each other (whether intentional or not), you need to be able to forgive them and vice versa.

3. There is a period of zero contact immediately after the breakup 
The zero contact time period can vary depending on the length of the relationship, the severity of heartbreak that resulted and the emotional resilience of the individuals involved. Although the ultimate goal is to be in contact on a normal basis, everyone needs some space after a breakup to just breathe and figure things out. Don't try to rush this part because contact too soon will likely result in one or more of you spiraling back down the rabbit hole of feelings, and that isn't beneficial for anyone involved.

4. Both people want to be friends with each other afterwards and put in the effort to try
This one is definitely the most important. It really applies to any kind of friendship, but especially so for exes. It's essential that you still actually care about one another and both give it your best shot to make a friendship work. This may not be the case straight away as you work through your frazzled mess of emotions, but if the desire is there somewhere from both sides, you can make it happen.

5. Time, time and more time
Inevitably, there will be that awkward post-breakup period when residual feelings linger - positive or negative, or more likely a mixture of both. This period will definitely feel shittier and more awkward for the person that got dumped (because yes, you can have a 'mutual' breakup but let's be honest, it's never really mutual). But as the cliche goes, time really does heals all wounds. Each time you see them, that weirdness between you will diminish a little, the 'leftover' sexual tension will fade and any associated emotional trauma will gradually subside. It may take weeks, months, maybe even years, but if you can commit to getting through the slightly messy and sometimes confusing interim phase, the next part is pretty damn great.

I understand this isn't the path for every pair of ex-lovers. For me, there are people I've dated who are now some of the most amazing people in my life. Like I said, there was a reason I liked them in the first place, and those reasons don't just disappear. I would hate to lose someone just because we didn't happen to 'work out' - so I am very glad to know that doesn't always have to be the case.

(Wearing: MLM Maison romper, Nine West sandals.)

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