How to stay friends after separation: 11 steps (with pictures)

How to stay friends after separation: 11 steps (with pictures)
How to stay friends after separation: 11 steps (with pictures)

You have a sweet romantic partner who has never tried to hurt you and maybe loves you, but for some reason you have decided to break up with him. This is completely normal, if the relationship doesn't work now, then it will never work. Some people say that it's impossible to be friends with your ex, but it can be done. Why not at least try to keep that great person in your life?


Part 1 of 3: break up appropriately

Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 1

Step 1. End the relationship in person

Many people commit the cardinal sin of breaking up by message or social media. Doing it this way won't show you really care. Show respect to that person at the end of your relationship, because you won't be able to maintain a friendship if the breakup goes wrong.

  • Speaking in person will allow you to state whatever you want to say. It will also allow your partner to respond rather than feeling left out.
  • Remember that breaking up with someone can hurt them psychologically. Don't do this if you plan on remaining friends, because no one likes to be left behind.
  • You can use body language to guide the conversation if you are meeting in person. If your partner has stiff shoulders, open mouths, or looks down too often, you'll understand that the conversation is upsetting him. On the other hand, if he looks relaxed and can even afford a few smiles, you will understand that you are not hurting him.
Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 2

Step 2. Choose a place for a fruitful discussion

This is an important discussion and you both need to be focused. So having this discussion anywhere will not help you get your point across. To stay friends, don't forget to take the atmosphere into account as well.

  • Avoid places where there are a lot of people. You need privacy, not a restless body at the next table trying to hear your every word.
  • Don't go somewhere you used to go together. It can bring sad memories back to you.
  • Choose a park, a large outdoor café, or another place where you will have enough space. Above all, do not meet in one of your houses, as this will create discomfort.
Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 3

Step 3. Be honest and avoid clichés

Nobody likes to hear It's my fault and not yours. Leaving on an insincere basis won't help the breakup discussion go well and you will end up insulting your ex.

  • If you are no longer attracted to the person, you can say so gently.
  • If you can't see a future for your relationship because of the different life goals you have, that's a legitimate reason. Just say Jean, I'm trying to find a job that will allow me to travel, but you're more of a homebody. A long term relationship is probably not an option for us.
  • You may feel that the differences in your communication styles are going to cause problems in the future. Try saying for example, We argue too frequently. We can probably find other people who understand us better.
Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 4

Step 4. Just avoid adding other reasons to back up your claim

Even if you don't want to keep seeing this person anymore, there's no point in criticizing every little thing about them.

  • Don't criticize your ex's family. You're not going to date this person anymore, so there's no reason to report that her brothers were bossy and her mom nosy.
  • Don't blame his pets. If you were allergic to cats at the start of your relationship, which only lasted a year, but stuck around, the cat has nothing to do with the breakup.
  • You don't need to give other unimportant reasons like saying he lives too far away from you. Giving more reasons will not improve the feelings of the one who was dumped.

Part 2 of 3: Find a Way to Become Friends

Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 5

Step 1. Give your ex some space to start

Take a few proactive steps to make sure you both feel the same way. If your ex is okay with you trying to be friends, calm down for a while. If you start by texting or calling right away, your ex might get confused and think you want to get back together.

  • Always ask your exes if they can handle being your friend or not. Respect their wish if they refuse.
  • If they agree, don't be tempted to send cute messages or post links or mimes on their Facebook wall. We all need time to heal and don't force yourself into reminding your ex too soon of your existence.
  • Try not to go to your ex's favorite places when you know there's a good chance he's there. It will be as if you are forcing an interaction.
Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 6

Step 2. Set some ground rules

It's important to talk about how this whole thing of staying friends will play out. You need to communicate your needs and expectations, and it's important that your ex also gives feedback. Don't rush to be friends until everything is clear.

  • Discuss what behavior you expect from a friend. Also ask your ex for their definition of friendship. You need to make sure you have the same goals in mind before proceeding.
  • Your ex might not be comfortable seeing you frequently, since you are the initiator of the breakup. So give it enough freedom to set the parameters.
  • Allow your ex to schedule your first dates. He may feel more comfortable if he sees that he is in control.
Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 7

Step 3. Treat this person like a real friend

Either you are friends or you are not. Don't take advantage of him because you were dating. Be sincere in your intentions, respond to his calls and messages in a timely manner, and don't be eccentric. If you behave otherwise, you will not maintain the friendship.

  • Avoid rejecting it. If he invites you out and you can't, just try telling him. Don't ignore it, for it is just rude.
  • Assuming that this person might want to be a friend-lover is a bad idea. You could end up putting yourself in an embarrassing situation.
  • Don't think that your ex will enjoy going with you to work or to family parties because you are not dating. No one likes to be given secondary consideration.

Part 3 of 3: Know when the relationship isn't working out

Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 8

Step 1. Consider the number of times your ex asks to see you

If he contacts you several times a week, is it just to keep in touch or because he is still moping for you? Finding excuses to see each other means you continue to have feelings for each other. That way, the friendship might not be healthy.

  • You might have told your ex that you would be going to an art show or visiting an antique store someday. If your ex is rushing to meet you every day, be careful!
  • If your ex constantly wants to come to your house and do something that isn't urgent, like teaching you a new Photoshop trick or helping you pick out new curtains, he might just want physical contact.
  • However, be able to tell the difference between an apology and a real emergency. If he says he's depressed, don't ignore him.
Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 9

Step 2. Analyze his reactions

You might find the things your ex does to you more irritating than the things your other friends do. We notice little things and take the words of those for whom we have a romantic feeling very badly. If so, maybe you should take a step back from the friendship.

  • When real friends cancel programs because they are upset, you believe them. However, if you doubt your ex's sincerity when he does the same thing, that's a signal that there is a trust issue.
  • If you overreact when your ex gives you an honest answer when you ask him about your flaws, it could mean that your friendship doesn't have a solid foundation.
  • We all have little things that get on our nerves, like eating with your mouth open. However, if every thing your ex does upsets you, back off before you start getting mean.
Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 10

Step 3. Control your thoughts

Be careful not to think of this person more than you think of other friends. If you're really just friends, you can go a week without thinking about the next. Persistent thoughts about your ex might mean you're not ready to be mere friends.

  • See if you constantly wonder if your ex boyfriend is already dating someone else.
  • If you often want to get together, but don't want to ask because you went to the movies last week, that's not a good sign.
  • Daydreaming about kissing or having sex with your ex isn't right! If you do, don't try to convince yourself that these thoughts will go away over time. Stop seeing your ex right away!
Split Up and Still Be Friends Step 11

Step 4. End the friendship if it comes to this point

Obviously, you've put a lot of time, effort, and emotion into trying to want to befriend your ex. However, if things don't materialize for you after a few months, it's time to admit that it isn't working. At this stage, spending time together is no longer productive and may irritate your friends.

  • You might want to get on with your job, but all the hassle with your ex leaves you with little energy to concentrate.
  • Meeting new people, which was your priority, isn't what you did during this time because you were focused on your ex.
  • Some of your friends might get mad at you for spending all that time on something they didn't think was worth it.


  • Don't do it if you honestly don't want to be friends. You have to feel like you really still want to have a relationship with this person, like a sibling bond, instead of one that could lead to marriage, sex, children, and more.
  • Realize that a friendly relationship can't work with someone who feels upset because they're not the right partner for you. Either the person wants to stop dating you and just be a friend or you will just be seen as another ex. It's as simple as that.
  • Talk to someone else if you are not sure if the friendship is working or not. Someone else should be able to give you a new perspective.
  • Get rid of feelings of guilt if the friendship doesn't last. At least you've put in a great effort. The impossible no one is bound.

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