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How to Remain Friends After a Breakup

A difficult and sometimes traumatic part of life can be when you start to realise that a relationship may not be the happily ever after you had hoped it would be. Oftentimes people simply grow apart as their values, desires and situations change and they no longer make one another happy.

The reality is that love is not static and even if you and your partner may have lost the romantic spark that once fuelled your relationship, it doesn’t always mean that a breakup has to be an acrimonious split, especially if you were in a healthy and non-toxic relationship and there were other facets to your relationship that transcended any romantic involvement. After all, nobody really wants to lose someone who uplifts them or adds value to their lives in general.

How to Stay Friends After a Breakup

For some people, remaining friends after the breakdown of a relationship is entirely possible and they turn out to be better friends than they ever were lovers, but other times what you imagined a friendship would be like and what it turns out to be, can be disappointing. If you’re thinking about giving it a try, these few tips can help.

Be Honest

The most important thing, if you want any hope of rekindling a friendship with your ex, is to make sure that the breakup is as clean as possible and that neither of you still harbour overwhelming romantic feelings or serious resentment, hurt or anger towards one another. Would both of you be able to maturely handle seeing one another dating someone new down the line without interfering or feeling devastated or jealous of this progression?

If you and your ex have a ton of things in common, have personalities that gel and have had a lot of fun together then remaining friends makes a lot of sense. But, be completely honest with one another if you decide to remain friends and make sure that neither of you is doing it in the hope that sparks one day fly again. Hurt feelings are unavoidable in the transition period but friendship is only possible if both of you are on the same page and your feelings are mutual on this point.

Take it Slow

Remaining friends after a breakup can come with trust issues so you both need to first take a little break from one another. Start by muting or snoozing your ex on social media for a while to stop you from stalking them and help you through the breakup healing phase. Muting is a better option than outright blocking them as that may present an awkward moment when you need to re-friend one another should you later become best buds.

Spending some quality time away from your ex will also help you to get over any lingering romantic attachments. You will know when any strong feelings have dissipated and you’re ready to begin work on a friendship with your former flame.

At this point, you can move onto occasional contact such as messages, emails or the odd phone call before moving onto a face-to-face encounter in a public or social setting that doesn’t trigger any reminders of romantic connections. Be willing to put in the work but also be realistic, knowing that there will still be some obstacles to overcome.

Set Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is important, as remaining friends after a breakup is easier in theory than it is in practice. Decide where the line is on physical contact and establish a new baseline of platonic friendship. Things like hugging, kissing or even holding hands may only lead to confusion and heartache so steer clear and make sure there is zero flirting or hints of a hookup.

Instead, keep things light and don’t make it weird when you see your ex. Yes, they’ve probably seen you naked but work on thinking of them as a friend instead of an ex. Get to know them again as a person and discover their new hobbies and interests. Be supportive of who they are without you and keep in mind that you’re forming a new friendship, not rehashing an old one. Introduce them to new people as your friend, not your ex.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to time, patience, kindness and respect. And, while it’s commendable to try and make a friendship work after a breakup, sometimes an ex may just not be able to move past the underlying cause of the breakup and the friendship could become a mask for them not being able to let go. If at any point, it feels frustrating or sad to be around your ex, it might be time to call it quits altogether and cut ties with them so you can both move on.

We understand the challenges of breakups and university life, and we also have tons of other great tips and advice to make your student life just that much easier. Visit us at www.capetownstudenthostels.co.za.