Breaking attachments to another person is painful for most. No wonder people convince themselves that having that person in their life is a good idea. It softens the blow, and the feeling of loss. Initially. Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely CAN work. But there are some reasons that most of the time it doesn’t. See if these relate to you, and decide if you’re in the clear to go and have a healthy friendship with your ex.


It would be nice to think that you hold a partner to the same standards as a friend, but you probably don’t. In certain aspects of life you may be way more forgiving and understanding of your partner. You know, the nothing you can do is wrong. Whereas a friend coming over and trashing your place would be super rude, he is just comfortable in your space and that’s kind of cute. The standards work in the other direction as well (and perhaps more frequently for many). Your ex being late is a whole different level of inconsiderate (and perhaps representative of how serious he is taking the relationship and your feelings), whereas a friend being a few minutes late is hardly noticeable. If you try a friendship with your ex, check in with yourself and see if you have the same friendship standards with him as you do with your friends. Or are you disappointed when he doesn’t get back to you via text or falls through on plans or talks about a new partner? It’s not that this should absolutely be instant at the start of you “friendship.” Likely there would be a transitional period and that would take time. But after a while, it should be the case.


Dr. Marie Land | Psychologist Washington DC | Relationship Therapist | Dupont Circle

Consider this question because you need to look at why exactly maintaining this friendship is so important to you. Is it out of guilt, out of inability to let go? Perhaps you were together for a long time and you have the same circle of friends so it would be difficult to not be friends with him. Just think, to what extent do you need a real friend, not just a friendly interaction occasionally with your ex. In fact, if you are seriously limited in terms of friendships with other people, this may be all the more reason that being friends with your ex could be problematic. You may be more likely to depend on him and less likely to really change your attachment to him….something necessary to truly move past the relationship.


If you still have feelings, this is a no brainer. Not a good idea. Taking actual time apart (not being in touch for a couple of months or weeks) will likely help you break your attachment to you ex and strengthen new attachments (with friends or a new partner) could resolve this and give you a chance to really see this person in a platonic way. If the relationship ended because you already only had platonic feelings towards your ex, then that is another way that being friends could work out. If things ended on your ex’s terms, it will take time for you to heal and this should definitely occur before developing a friendship. Remember, you have friends that you don’t talk to for a period of time and then start to hang out a lot again. Friendships don’t have to be the most consistent thing (which relationships usually do when healthy). Take time, live your life. Then consider if a friendship is truly valuable, and not just a hindrance to moving on with LIFE.