When you break up with someone, there are usually a lot of emotions involved. It can be difficult to move on and be friends with an ex.
However, it is not impossible.
If you set boundaries and stick to them, having an ex-friendship can actually work out really well for both of you.
In this blog post, we will discuss 20 essential boundaries that you need to adhere to when trying to maintain a friendship with your ex.
What is an ex-friendship?
Simply put, an ex-friendship is a friendship between two people who used to be in a romantic relationship.
This type of friendship can work out really well for both parties involved, but only if certain boundaries are put in place and adhered to.
20 boundaries for being friendly with your ex
Being friends with your ex doesn’t have to be complicated. A lot of people have ex-friendships and they’re able to maintain them without any problems.
By following these ground rules and really sticking to them, you can make sure that your friendship is healthy and beneficial for both of you:
1) No Facebook and Instagram stalking
Being active on social media is a part of everyday life for most people.
However, when you’re trying to be friends with your ex, it’s important to resist the urge to stalk their social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram.
Why is that?
Well, for one, it can make you feel worse.
You might see your ex-partner doing things that they never did with you or hanging out with people that you don’t know. This can lead to feelings of jealousy and resentment.
It’s also important to remember that what most people post on social media is often not an accurate representation of reality.
So, even if your ex looks like they’re having the time of their life on Instagram, that doesn’t mean that they actually are.
By resisting the urge to stalk your ex’s social media, you’re setting a healthy boundary in your friendship and giving yourself some much-needed peace of mind.
2) Avoid social media posts about your former partner
This boundary goes hand-in-hand with the first one.
Just as you should avoid stalking your ex’s social media, you should also avoid posting about them on your own accounts.
You see, when you post about your ex on social media, it could send a different message to them than you intended.
Additionally, posts about your ex can be a trigger for them.
If they see you talking about them on social media, it might bring up old feelings and make it harder for them to be friends with you.
In any case, it’s generally a good idea to avoid posting about your former partner on social media, even if you think that your intentions are pure.
And if you have something to say to your ex, say it to them directly. It’s better to have that conversation in person or over the phone than to post about it online.
3) No trying to get back together
The truth is, it takes a significant amount of time and effort to build a friendship with an ex.
If you’re constantly having thoughts about the idea of getting back together, it’s going to be really hard to make any progress with your ex-friendship.
The bottom line is that you need to be honest about your intentions from the start.
First of all, it’s important to give each other time to heal after the breakup. You can’t just be friends with someone one day and then expect to pick up where you left off romantically the next.
Second, if your ex knows that you’re only trying to be friends so that you can get back together, they might not want to be friends with you at all.
They might feel like you’re just using them and that’s not a good foundation for any kind of relationship.
You might just set yourself up for disappointment and heartache if it doesn’t work out.
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4) Breakup sex is almost never a good idea
When you have sex with someone, it creates a physical and emotional connection.
And when you have that kind of connection and intimacy with your ex, it can make it harder to be friends with them.
Even if neither of you rehashes old feelings, the sexual connection can make it harder to be friends because you’ll always be thinking about each other in a physical way.
Of course, as tempting as it is, sleeping with your ex is a red flag and can make it harder to be friends in the long run.
It may seem convenient at that time, but it can make the boundaries between you and your ex even more blurred.
5) Respect each other’s space and privacy
When you break up with someone, you lose the right to know everything about their life.
You don’t get to know who they’re dating or what they’re up to all the time.
And if you want to be friends with your ex, you need to respect that.
It can be hard, especially if you’ve been together for a long time, but it’s important to give each other space and privacy.
You might not like everything that your ex does, but it’s not your place to judge them.
If you can resist the urge to stalk them online or ask their friends about them, you’ll be much more likely to stay on good terms with your ex.
6) Respect the new partners in your life
Being friends with your ex means having to deal with their new partners. And that can be tough, especially if you still have feelings for them.
But if you want to be friends with your ex, you need to come to terms with the fact that they’re moving on.
And that means respecting their new partners.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to like them, but it does mean you need to be respectful when you’re around them.
When you show your ex that you’re happy for them and that you’re not going to try to sabotage their new relationship, it’ll go a long way in maintaining a friendship.
7) Never compare your past relationship with the future ones
What you have with your ex is in the past. It’s over. And if you want to be friends with them, you need to come to terms with that.
When you compare your past relationship with the future ones, you’re not only disrespecting your ex, but you’re also setting yourself up for disappointment.
Remember, the relationship you have with your ex isn’t the same as the one you both have with your new partners. And that’s OK.
Every relationship is different and has its own merits.
Just focus on the present and the friendship you can have with your ex.
That way, you not only give yourself the chance to move on, but you also give your ex the chance to do the same.
You are your own person
8) Don’t even try to relive the past
Whatever happened in the past is in the past. And that’s where it should stay.
Trying to relive the past is a surefire way to ruin any chance of being friends with your ex.
It’ll only lead to arguments, resentment, and bitterness. And when that happens, your chances of having an ex-friendship are slim to none.
If you find yourself stuck and getting nostalgic about your past, take a step back and ask yourself why you want to be friends with your ex in the first place.
Are you doing it for the right reasons? Or are you just trying to hold on to something that’s already gone?
Either way, be honest with yourself. And one of the most effective ways to get there is to tap into your personal power.
You see, we all have an incredible amount of power and potential within us, but most of us never tap into it.
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In his excellent free video, Rudá explains how you can create the life you’ve always dreamed of and increase attraction in your partners, and it’s easier than you might think.
So if you’re tired of living in frustration, dreaming but never achieving, and of living in self-doubt, you need to check out his life-changing advice.
9) Keep discussions light and positive
If you want to maintain a platonic relationship with your ex, it’s important to keep discussions light and positive.
That means no talking about the past or rehashing old arguments. And it also means avoiding sensitive topics that could lead to an argument.
Of course, that’s not to say you can’t discuss other personal and serious topics with your ex, but it’s important to do so with caution.
You don’t want to say something that could hurt their feelings or make them feel uncomfortable.
If you can keep things light and positive, you’ll be much more likely to stay on good terms with your ex.
Remember, always approach these conversations with respect and an open mind. If you can do that, you’ll be much more likely to stay good friends with your ex.
10) Don’t discuss your past relationship with your ex’s new partner
Consider this fact: your ex is with someone new. And that means they’re off-limits when it comes to discussion.
As tempting as it might be to talk about what it was like to date your ex with their current partner, resist the urge.
Listen, this is a new chapter in both your lives – as friends. Allow their new relationship to unfold on its own. Let them figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Doing this will allow you to maintain a healthy and supportive friendship with your ex.
Who knows, eventually, you might even be able to meet their new partner and become a pal to them, too.
11) Never give unsolicited love advice unless asked
Have you ever experienced the feeling of constantly being given unsolicited advice?
It’s not fun, is it?
Now imagine how your ex would feel if you did that to them.
Unless they’ve explicitly asked for your opinion on their love life, it’s best to maintain healthy boundaries and keep your thoughts to yourself.
Not only is it none of your business, but you could also end up saying something that could hurt their feelings or make them feel uncomfortable.
And that’s the last thing you want to do if you want to keep tabs on your ex.
Let them figure things out on their own. And when they’re ready to open up and seek your advice, they will.
12) Don’t share intimate details of your life post-breakup
Even if your attachment to your ex may be different now that they’re part of your life as a friend, it’s important not to share intimate details of your post-breakup life.
I suppose you could say you won’t have that awkwardness between each other. But that doesn’t mean you should share everything with them.
The thing is, just because you’re friends now doesn’t mean they need to know about your post-breakup “sexcapades” or new love interests.
If anything, hearing about those things could just make them feel uncomfortable.
At the end of the day, if you refrain from sharing too much personal information, you’ll likely have a stronger and healthier ex-friendship.
13) Avoid being alone in the same place at the same time
In all honesty, being alone with your ex could present the opportunity for things to get a little too intimate – even if you’re just friends.
You might find yourselves reminiscing about old times or, worse, end up making out.
To avoid any potential awkwardness or discomfort, it’s best to try and avoid being alone in the same place at the same time.
If you can’t help but be in the same place at the same time – like at a mutual friend’s party – just be sure to keep your distance and avoid being in any situations that could lead to an intimate moment.
It would be a waste to ruin your friendship because you couldn’t keep things platonic.
14) Avoid unnecessary contact with the other
Unless you’ve reached best friend status with your ex, contacting your ex every day – or even every other day – is unnecessary.
You see, when you contact your ex even for the most mundane things, you run the risk of blurring the boundaries of your friendship.
It might even make them think you want to get back together – which is probably not what you want.
So unless it’s an emergency, try to limit your contact with your ex. Once a week or once every other week should suffice. This will give you both the time and space you need to live your own lives.
15) No asking for favors unless it’s really important
Favors are more often than not asked from people who are close to you.
This is because we know they won’t say no and they’ll likely go out of their way to do the favor for you.
But when it comes to exes, you should try not to ask them for favors – unless it’s something really important or it’s something that only your ex can do.
First off, it might make them feel used if you’re constantly asking them for favors. Secondly, it could create a sense of obligation – which is the last thing you want in a friendship.
Keeping things casual without any strings attached is the best way for both of you. It will only make your friendship stronger later on.
16) Best to always hang out in a group
Whether or not you have mutual friends hanging out in a group setting rather than one-on-one is the best way to go.
If you haven’t found your footing in your friendship yet, it might be a little too awkward to hang out one-on-one.
Fact is, in a group setting, there’s less pressure on both of you to make conversation. You can also avoid any potential awkwardness by having other people around.
At the end of the day, you know there’s safety in numbers.
17) Store or throw out belongings of your ex
When you break up with someone, most likely you’ll have some of their belongings.
It could be a shirt they left at your place or a coffee mug they bought you.
Whatever the case may be, it’s best to get rid of those things – or at least store them away somewhere.
Seeing those things around will only remind you of your past relationship. And that’s probably not something you want.
Plus, you’d want to make room for the new things in your future relationships.
It’s best to start fresh and move on from the past. After all, you’re just friends now.
18) Resist the temptation of touching and flirting
Being friends with your ex doesn’t mean you can flirt or get frisky with each other.
For starters, it might send the wrong message.
Your ex might think you want to get back together when all you really want is to be friends.
You must be wondering, “What’s the big deal with a little harmless flirting?” Well, for one, it can lead to something more.
It might start off as innocent fun but before you know it, things could get out of hand pretty quickly.
What’s more, it could make things really awkward between the both of you – especially if one party starts to develop feelings again.
19) Talk about your new relationships at the right time
It may take a little or a lot of time to build a friendship with your ex.
But once you feel you’ve reached a level of comfort where you can talk about anything, you should feel free to talk about your new relationships.
Doing so will show that you’re over your past relationship and that you’re moving on with your life.
What’s more, it’ll also help take away any awkwardness between the both of you.
This could be the closure you need to finally move on from your past relationship.
After all, you’re friends now. What’s important is that you’re both happy.
20) Never question your decision of being friends with your ex
Being friends with your ex is a decision you’ve made. It wasn’t something that was forced upon you.
What’s important is that you’re comfortable with the friendship and that you genuinely care about each other. Wishing them nothing but the best in life is all that matters at this point.
If you find that you’re struggling to be friends with your ex, it’s okay to take a step back and reassess the situation.
And that’s perfectly fine. You can always try again in the future.
The secret to making your ex-friendship work – some tips
With this list of boundaries, being friends with your ex is definitely possible. Here are some tips to make your friendship work:
Approach with good intentions
You should only be friends with your ex if you genuinely care about them and want to see them happy. Having a hidden agenda will only make things complicated and difficult.
Communicate openly and honestly
If there are certain topics that make you feel uncomfortable, be sure to communicate that with your ex-friend. The same goes for them. If there are boundaries they want to set, be sure to listen and respect their wishes.
It takes time to develop any kind of relationship – even friendships. So don’t expect things to happen overnight. Give it some time, and eventually, you’ll get there.
Let go of the past
Don’t bring up old arguments or fights. Leave the past in the past and focus on the present. Doing this can help make things a lot easier and less complicated.
Respect begets respect
Any relationship – whether it be romantic, platonic, or familial – requires respect. It begins there and it ends there. If you want your ex-friendship to work, be sure to show them the same respect you would any other friend.
Friendships are supposed to be fun. So don’t take things too seriously. Have a good time, and enjoy each other’s company. After all, that’s what friends are for.
How do you know when to end an ex-friendship?
There isn’t really a definite answer to this. You’ll just know when the time is right.
It could be because you’re no longer getting along, or it could be because one of you has moved on and is ready to start a new chapter in their life.
Here’s the thing: ending an ex-friendship doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
It could simply mean that you’re both moving on with your lives – and that’s okay.
What’s important is that you gave it a shot. And who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be friends again.
Conclusion – Is it okay to be friends with your ex?
The idea of friendship with your ex may seem daunting at first. But it’s definitely possible to make it work – as long as you’re both on the same page.
Of course, there will be personal boundaries that need to be set. But as long as you communicate openly and honestly with each other, you’ll be just fine.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing to lose by being friends with your ex. So why not give it a try? You might be surprised at how well things turn out.
If it doesn’t work out, then at least you know you gave it your best shot. And that’s all anyone can ask for.
After all, the most important thing is that your heart was genuinely in it for the right reasons.
And that’s what really matters.