Should You Be Friends With an Ex?

So you're trying to decide whether it's wise to be friends with an ex? Sometimes it can work; sometimes not. You might have friends who previously dated and can still joke about the time she cried all through that sappy movie. You might also have friends who can't be in the same club together - one of them has to leave if they happen to bump into each other. How do you decide whether to pursue friendship after a breakup? Think about the following ex factors.

When Friendship Flies: If you were friends before you dated, you might be better prepared for downshifting from hot and heavy to comfortable and chatty. Keep some distance for a while. When you do reconnect, keep it on the positive side: "You're the kind of person everyone wants to be friends with!" Let her know that you still want to hang out with her even though you're not hooking up.

When Friendship Fizzles: If one of you cheated and that ended the relationship, the hurt and resentment are likely to leave friendship out in the cold. If you did the cheating, apologize and let her know what she did right, not wrong, when you were together. If possible, you want to leave her with some good feelings about the time she spent with you, even if you can't stay friends.

When Friendship Flies: If you have several strong mutual friends or your paths will continue to cross at work, then you might benefit from staying connected - but definitely on a lower voltage. If you're bound to run into each other often, you might as well ease the tension and aim to avoid the awkwardness.

When Friendship Fizzles: If one of you was physically or verbally abusive, keeping as much distance as possible is a must. You two may be able to forgive, but don't forget the bad chemistry or relationship patterns that fueled the explosions. This type of past makes her a dangerous no-fly zone for you.

When Friendship Flies: If you admire your ex as a person, you'll have a better chance of preserving a bond between you. Maybe she's talented at golf or creating web pages - and you share that passion. If you can keep the activities and conversation focused on things you have in common, you'll have an easier time hanging out as buddies.

When Friendship Fizzles: If the lust is still strong, remaining just friends might be more of a challenge than you can handle. If one of you is in an exclusive relationship or you know that hooking up would cause emotional turmoil, then keep your distance. Friendship with benefits isn't always the best choice. It can keep reopening old wounds that need a good long time to heal.

No matter why you're trying to remain friends, be sure you don't have any hidden motives. Be honest with yourself and don't feed false hope. If just being pals is going to be painful for either one of you, it might be best to call it quits altogether. Think of the Band-Aid analogy - rip it off quickly rather than prolonging the pain of pulling apart.

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