Can We Be Friends?: Shifting From Partnership to Friendship

By: Equality in Marriage

It's the dreaded four-word phrase…."Can we be friends?" It's a classic break-up line, but it's also an issue that must be faced when a relationship hits the rocks. In reality, the questions ought to be "should we be friends?" And, if so, "how will we define that relationship?" Below are some points to ponder when facing the partnership to friendship dilemma.

Take Care of Business:

Whether it's a marriage or simply a significant partnership, there are issues that you must manage when the romance ends. In the case of divorce, there is a legal process to manage. There may be property to divide. Decisions may have to be made about mutual friends and whether those relationships can continue. Focus first on the "business" of ending your relationship. It is your responsibility to manage this process with knowledge and dignity.

Take Care of Yourself:

Your first thought should not be about the place your ex will hold in your future. Focus on healing yourself. Take time to reflect on the relationship and learn the inevitable lessons that arise from that experience. Use your support network to heal emotionally. Use exercise, hobbies and your favorite activities to keep yourself physically active and vibrant. In most cases, you can't rely on your ex to help you recover or to garner closure. Fix yourself first.

Evaluate Your Intentions:

When approaching a friendship with an ex, take time to understand your motives for pursuing that relationship. Remember what defines a friendship: conversation, connection, support and mutual interests. Again, if your motive is to seek closure, "check up" on your former partner, rekindle your romance or inflict some sort of revenge on the one that wronged you, it is probably best to let more time past. If you are truly friends, time will not diminish that connection. Don't rush into something that is unhealthy or dysfunctional.

Assess Their Value:

From time to time, we all clean out our closets, getting rid of the clothes that no longer suit us. Too often, we don't do this with our friends and acquaintances. It is important that we fill our lives with people who bring value to our existence. Make a list of pros and cons to nurturing a friendship with your former partner. Realize that the same reasons that led to the relationship's end may be the factors that make a friendship with your ex unbeneficial. Be prepared to acknowledge the fact that someone who was a critical part of your past may not have a place in your future.

Set Rules and Stick By Them:

It happens all the time. You meet with a partner from the past for a friendly drink. One drink turns into six. Suddenly the time machine has been ignited and you are making mistakes you'll regret in the morning. Especially in the early stages of the friendship transition, it is important to set ground rules. If at any point in the evening your feelings shift to an unbalanced state, stand firm and go home. Set limits on your interaction if necessary to keep the situation platonic and positive.

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