So recently (as in right at 5 months ago) I broke up with the guy I had been dating for the previous 4 years.
Yes, that is a long time, yet the breakup wasn’t shattering.
It was heartbreaking!
It was full of uncertainties.
It was full of tears.
It taught me a ton!
… but it didn’t shatter everything I was. It didn’t destroy my future.
If you have a relationship that ended, and you really just want to be friends instead, here are a few things that helped/are helping me in that endeavor… these will not make it any easier, just some things that helped me!
- Get space.
Before you ever try and be friends, fully break up and get space. For us, that was 5+ months, for others it may be a year, or even longer. Give it enough space that you can go a few weeks without thinking about the person. Take enough time away that emotions don’t cloud your decision.
2. Talk everything out.
After space, talk everything out. Obviously some talking happens before the real up, but sometimes it takes more. Talk through your hurt, talk through your regrets, talk through your fears, talk through it all! If you get it out now, it’ll be tons easier to not walk on awkward egg shells later!
For us, it brought out a ton of things that were misunderstood, assumed, and honestly things that really hurt, but made us stronger as individuals. The meme above is pretty much exactly what I stated part way through our conversation!
3. Discuss all the reasons why you enjoy your friendship, and how dating ruins that.
Sometimes this is truly the best way to go!
This one may sound weird, but it worked for us. We talked about every reason why we enjoy each other’s friendship and how those changed/went away when we were dating. Yes, this is similar to #3, just more focused content.
Regardless of how much he hurt me, I do honestly still want him to end up with someone who loves him best and he can love best…. if nursing school has taught me anything it’s that…
4. Ease back into friendship slowly
Remember that once you were friends and realize that this is extremely hard.
5. Don’t encourage flirtatious behavior.
This one is super hard! I never thought I would say this, but I totally get the allure of the “Friends with Benefits” idea! I don’t agree with it morally, but I see how it’s attractive! So, to avoid that, don’t be flirtatious, don’t encourage flirtatious behavior, just give each other space and respect that for yourself and the other person.
6. Realize it is one of the hardest things you will ever do and you need to seriously decide if it’s worth it to you.
So much of me wanted to stay friends, but we are still trying to figure out if it’s possible. If you dated someone, you hopefully enjoyed their friendship before anything else, don’t let a break up ruins that!
With all of this said… sometimes you just have to say goodbye and mean it.
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is say, “Goodbye. No strings attached.”
May you all have wisdom in these decisions.