Advice About Remaining Friends After a Breakup

Friends?

Can we still be friends is a common question after a break up. If you are wondering this same thing, check out what our expert dating coach had to say.

Can We Still Be Friends Even After a Bad Breakup?

Reader Question

Hello. I was in a 5 1/2 year relationship that ended very badly. It has been two years and I have not let him go completely because we still have things that tie us together. Is it healthy for me to try to be friends with him even though I still have feelings? Also, is it normal that after two years I am still not over him? Please provide me some advice. Thank you.~~ marcy

Expert Reply

Dear Marcy,

Being in a relationship with someone for five and a half years is a long time. It would be natural to have positive and negative feelings about a romance which has ended. When a relationship ends we go through a natural grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is not unusual to experience different parts of the cycle at various times and in no particular order.

How you experience the grief cycle has a lot to do with whether you were the one who initiated the breakup or you were on the receiving end. Should you be the one who ended the relationship, it is unlikely you would experience all the stages of grief. Being the one who ended the relationship, you might experience angry or sadness and then move into the acceptance stage, although there is no guarantee of skipping stages. Some people who end a relationship stay angry with their ex and have difficulty moving onto acceptance or forgiveness.

On the other hand, if your partner was the one to end the relationship, you may go through all the stages of the grief cycle starting with feeling shocked/denial at the news of the breakup. Being on the receiving end of a breakup, it is unlikely you will skip any stage. It is also normal that as you move towards the final stage, acceptance, you also find that little things can stir up all your old emotions. Say you hear a song on the radio which triggers a fond memory of your ex. Then BAM, you're back at the sadness stage again. As you get closer to the end of the grieving cycle, regressing to a previous stage, although normal, is shorter lived.

There is no absolute perfect timeline for grieving. The length of time is as individual as you are. One theory says that the length of time for grieving is equivalent to half the length of the entire relationship. That being said, sometimes people get stuck in a stage and have difficulty moving on. For these individuals, life stays stuck in a time warp. One indication that someone is not progressing is that dating, socializing and intimate relationships, do not resume. Sure you go through the motions of life, but you are not living life. I am wondering if this is you.

It would be reasonable that two years after the breakup the desire to experience romance would lead you to begin socializing and dating. You ask if it is healthy for you to be friends with your ex. The answer is it depends. If you have moved through the grief cycle and have accepted that the relationship is over then yes, being friends is healthy. It shows that you have let go of the past and any hope to be together in the future. On the other hand, should you be stuck in a particular stage of the grief cycle and have difficulty progressing through it, then my answer is no. It would not be healthy for you to be friends with your ex if the intention is to be friends because you long for the past and wish that a friendship will rekindle a romance between the two of you.

~~Lori

Questions about Relationships

Reader Question

Q1.Can a girl and boy be friends. Q2. If you are in a relationship and you have to make a decision but you are confused, what should you do?-- Contributed by: khudhi

Expert Reply

Dear Khudhi,

Yes, a girl and a boy can be "just friends." This only works if both people don't feel an attraction for each other. If each feels a sibling kind of relationship, the thought of being more than just friends is usually not appealing. However, if one of the friends secretly harbors an attraction for the other, than it is more difficult to be friends, though not impossible.

As for your second question, I believe that if you are confused, then it is not a good time to make a decision, regardless of whether or not you're in a relationship. To help with the decision-making, I would recommend you talk with your partner about your concerns or worries. Let your partner respond. If based on the response, the answer as to what you should do doesn't come immediately, give it time. If you try to force a decision, you may regret having acted impulsively. On the other hand, one can wait too long, but this is usually because you want to avoid making a decision. Be patient and listen to your heart; the answer will come. Time is the best helper when it comes to making difficult decisions.

~~Lori

Advice About Remaining Friends After a Breakup