I'm stingy when it comes to investing my time. I only have a few close friends, because if someone has dodgy character or doesn’t appreciate my passion for soft cheeses, I immediately declare that person a waste of time. Romantic relationships are no exception. Even though I’m now happily married, I’m still proud of every guy I ever deemed worthy to be Keri’s Boyfriend, because they were all great men with big hearts who truly loved and supported me. (Even the ones who dumped me!) So, when those relationships ended, you better believe I cashed in all that invested time and refurbished it into a friendship.
Salvaging a friendship from a failed relationship sounds mostly impossible because exes are generally viewed as a crappy headache best forgotten. But, not all relationships end with betrayal, and not all exes are monsters. Just because an otherwise smart and caring individual decided he didn’t want to marry and have kids with you, doesn’t mean he should be discarded on the side of the road.
Exes can be huge allies in life because they get to know you in ways most people don’t. All those date nights, lazy Sundays, and weekend trips, you were building a deep connection with another soul that was probably the most profound relationship in your life during that period. Turning that intimate connection into a friendly one isn’t easy, but there are a few rules that make it easier.
Let’s get one thing straight from the jump: Not all exes are worthy of your friendship. If he or she is a cheater, liar, or Beyonce-hater, then maybe they should stay a bad memory or a lesson learned. Some relationships simply don’t work out, and there’s no one to blame. If your ex truly loved you, then they will always want what is best for you, just like you will always want what’s best for them. And, isn’t that a great foundation for a friendship?
I was dumped hard when I decided to move to Los Angeles, and I cried about my ex every day for at least four months. The saddest part was losing a person that had been my emotional frontline for almost three years, so never talking to him again wasn’t the right choice for me. I found a way to reintroduce him into my life as a friend about a year later, because a truly good person is worth overcoming emotional hurdles to keep around.
Give That Wound Some Time To Heal
The most common mistake people make is trying to re-establish a friendship when they’re still harbouring romantic feelings. We’ve all heard variations of the rule that it takes a week for every month you were with someone to really get over them, which I’ve found to be true! Depending on which ex I’m talking about, it’s taken anywhere from a few months to a few years to really feel like I had healed. Seeing an ex before you’re ready is the worst, so the longer you put it off, the better. Don’t worry about “waiting too long” — you have a better chance at salvaging a friendship if romantic feelings truly aren't there.
Be Mindful Of Their Feelings, Too
Maybe you were the one that broke their heart, or maybe your ex dumped you, but it was the hardest decision of their life. You won’t be the only one that is navigating emotional land mines, and regardless of who ended the relationship, it’s easy for both people to get jealous or confused. Start slow when dishing the details of your new crush. Give him the chance to get comfortable with you in a better place without him. Friendships are about striking a balance of needs and wants between two people, so remind yourself that being their friend means taking their emotions into consideration.
Fake It ‘Til You Make It
You’ve established a new friendship with your ex and everything is going great — until wham! Suddenly his Instagram account is plastered with images of a new girl. Maybe she’s younger or prettier or more successful, and you find yourself stalking her on social media or hoping their relationship will fail. (All totally normal behavior and emotions in my opinion.) Initially, jealousy will rear its ugly head. It is important to to completely ignore these feelings and fake support and excitement until it actually feels natural. When you see someone as “yours” for so long, seeing them with someone else always feels unnatural at first.
Not everyone is comfortable with their significant other staying friends with their ex. If your ex is really worth keeping as a friend, it might take some joint hang out sessions to get your new girlfriend or boyfriend to trust or even tolerate your ex. Be clear about why you two broke up, why you’re happy the relationship ended, and why you think your ex should have a permanent friend role in your life. They don’t have to be best friends, and it would probably be weird for you if they were, but they both have to respect one another and the roles they play in your past, present, and future.
Embrace Your Past
Finally, every friendship is unique, so your past relationship doesn’t have to be a taboo. I’m sure you had a blowout, drag-out fight with your best girlfriends in high school that you laughed about in your twenties. It’s the friends that don’t pretend their past didn’t happen that have the realest shot. Think of fictitious former couples like Jerry and Elaine or Hannah and Elijah. They don’t pretend their past isn’t there but they don’t focus on it, either. When two people are meant to be in each others lives, romantically or otherwise, it’s not always a simple story.
You've probably noticed by now that, in addition to being adorable, Zooey Deschanel is also really, really funny. So, it only makes sense that when she founded HelloGiggles, she enlisted the help of Sophia Rossi and Molly McAleer to create a hub for hilarity.