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Can You Be Friends With an Ex?

Can You Be Friends With an Ex?

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Breaking up is always hard to do.

And while it may be tempting to say "let's be friends," relationship experts agree that turning a failed relationship into a positive friendship can be difficult to do successfully.

"Wanting to be friends keeps you from feeling the full depth of the loss, softening the blow of the breakup," says Nina Atwood, therapist and author of “Temptations of the Single Girl.”

"You may feel that this person knows you better than anyone else. Even if you’re not sexually attracted, you may still want the emotional intimacy that you shared.”

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However, maintaining a strong connection and attachment as friends could make it difficult to begin a new relationship because emotions you have for your former love can hold you back, Atwood says. And when your ex does finally meet someone new, chances are you’ll experience a sense of loss all over again.

The transition from relationship to friendship can also be fraught with hidden agendas that may lead to more heartache, says relationship expert Lindsay Kriger. While "let's be friends" may sound like a great idea, it can be a lot harder to pull off in actuality.

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“What it doesn’t mean is ‘let’s have a completely platonic relationship in which we ignore the feelings we had for one another, even the ones we still have,’” says Kriger. “’I’ll talk casually about the other girls I’m dating, because the fact we’re just friends means it won’t hurt you to hear you’re replaceable, and how much I’ve moved on. And we won’t need to worry about the temptation to have sex with each other, because once we become friends, our sexual attraction to each other will die instantly'."

Kriger believes the most important thing to do once a relationship is over is cut all ties and move on in order to allow yourself the chance to find happiness elsewhere. That means deleting his number and yes, even blocking him on Facebook.

According to psychologist Karen Sherman, it is possible to be for exes to be friends, but time (and patience) are key.

“You really need a break to let the feelings of the romantic relationship heal,” she advises. “You need to have a period where you’re both not talking. Then in six months or a year, see if a friendship can be created. Then, boundaries need to be put in place for the friendship to work. Otherwise, just let it go.”

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Psychotherapist Dr. Fran Walfish agrees.

“Most relationships end in hurt, anger and disappointment with each partner feeling failed by the other in one way or another,” she explains. “Certainly, if there are children involved it is best to remain on friendly terms for the sake of the kids. But, when there are two people who decide to break up I think it’s best to end it in a total way.”

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