Whether or not to stay friends after a divorce will depend a lot on your own unique situation. Not every post-divorce relationship will be friendly. This is especially true for couples who have gone through a nasty divorce battle. And for marriages where there was abuse or manipulation, transitioning to a friendship after the divorce is usually not a good idea. It just leaves the door open for ongoing abusive behavior.
Remaining friends can also be problematic if the decision to divorce wasn't mutual. If one spouse is still clinging to hopes of reconciliation, trying to maintain a friendly relationship right away can lead to rejection and more hurt feelings.
But what if the two of you have children together? Being a divorced parent usually means there will be ongoing communication with your ex for many years to come. And in theory, that communication would be a lot easier if the two of you are friends.
Before jumping into friendship mode with your ex, give yourself time to heal from the issues that lead to your divorce. After you have had time to move past the hurt of the divorce, you might then be able to rebuild a friendship with your ex. Keep reading for tips on how to accomplish this.
By Sylvia Smith
You and your ex share a past. Together you built a collection of memories and experiences and know each other in a way that nobody else does. Since your marriage ended, odds are you share some painful memories too - but do these memories mean that you can't stay friends with your ex?
Many challenges come from staying friends after divorce. Hurt feelings or lingering romance can get in the way of developing a healthy friendship. But with a little trial and error, you can make the best of your situation.
Your ex was once the most important person in your life. Just because you are no longer a romantic couple doesn't mean you have to lose the great friendship you once had. Here are 6 tips for staying friends after getting a divorce.
You and your ex share a past. While you may be itching to start a friendship and not let the time you spent with your ex be a waste, it's important to take the time to grieve.
You need to work through the lingering feelings you may have - romantic or otherwise - for your ex. Cry, watch bad movies, go out for a girl’s night, rant about the problems you had with your marriage, have closure with your ex and remove the negative feelings you're holding onto.
Remember that you broke up for a reason. That reason might be there was a betrayal in the marriage, you stopped communicating, or you simply can't stay in the same room together for an extended period of time.
If you have children together, this is a great opportunity to slowly work on your friendship. Why not schedule family activities together like game night or weekly dinner? This will help you find a new dynamic together as friends.
And remember to take baby steps. Just because you want to be friends doesn't mean you have to do so immediately after signing your divorce papers. Start your friendship at a pace that is comfortable for you.
It might feel tricky to spend time as friends after being romantic for so long. But if you think about it, being friends with your ex is easy. All you have to do is treat your ex like you would treat any of your other friends. This means:
Pro tip: hanging out in large groups of people might make it easier to transition into friendship after getting a divorce and can prevent any "friends with benefits" circumstances from happening.
Because of all the time you are now spending with your ex, it can be tempting to let old habits creep into your friendship. As tempting as it can be to become intimate with your ex - don't do it! "But we've done it before!" you reason with yourself. But trust us, this is not a road you want to take after getting a divorce.
When you have sex with someone, your body releases a bonding agent called oxytocin. This love hormone connects you to someone on a deep emotional level. Oxytocin has also been proven to boost feelings of physical and mental attraction, enhance emotional intimacy and boost trust.
And sex isn't the only thing that can make your body release oxytocin. Other forms of physical affection such as giving massages, holding hands, hugging, cuddling or kissing can also bond you closer to your ex. If you want a real friendship and not a "Friends with Benefits" situation with your ex, you must refrain from being intimate together.
Trust is important to a good relationship - and a good friendship, too. Since your breakup, you may have lost the trust you once had in your ex. If you want to stay good friends, you must learn how to rebuild trust. You can do this by:
After you've been friends for a while, it may feel weird if your ex brings up something you did when you were romantic partners - but don't let it be weird! Reminiscing is a fun way to relive the best moments of your life and shared times.
Instead of trying to pretend that your ex never existed in a romantic capacity, focus on the good that you shared. Focusing on your ex's good qualities can also make it easier to let go of painful memories and help you transition into friendship easier.
Staying friends after a divorce is a noble goal, but don't feel like you have to rush it. To develop a friendship with your ex, you must give yourselves the time to grieve your relationship, distance yourselves romantically, and look for the good in one another.
Sylvia Smith is a writer who likes to write about relationships and how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. She is currently associated with Marriage.com. She is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships. By taking purposeful and intentional action, Sylvia feels any relationship or marriage can be transformed and truly enjoyed.