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10 tips on how to set up boundaries with an ex

It is possible to stay friends with an ex— you just have to be willing to set up some healthy boundaries. When going down this path, it's totally normal to feel weird about staying friends with an ex. After all, you probably went through a lot of tough stuff together. So if you both wish to keep each other’s company and keep it healthy, setting boundaries are the way to go!

Dating Expert Janet Smith October 6, 2022 • 7 minutes read
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It is possible to stay friends with an ex — you just have to be willing to set up some healthy boundaries. When going down this path, it’s totally normal to feel weird about staying friends with an ex. After all, you probably went through a lot of tough stuff together. So if you both wish to keep each other’s company and keep it healthy, setting boundaries are the way to go!

It is important to remember that you simply cherish the friendship that was built over the course of your romantic relationship. So if you wish to stay friends, that should be a good mantra to help you remain friends. That will be the foundation of why you even want to stay friends. Nothing more, nothing less! Having said that, here are 10 tips that you can start with.

1. Don’t pretend it’s not weird

It’s okay to be weirded out by the idea of being friends with an ex. The key is to be honest about it with yourself and with your ex. If you’re not comfortable with the idea, it’s probably not going to work.

When you are honest with yourself about the whole situation or even the idea of being friends your ex, then it will definitely work out. Otherwise, guaranteed that it is going to start to feel more like a burden than a positive experience. If this happens, it might be time to reassess the situation. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to managing a platonic relationship with an ex.

2. Set some ground rules

Before you try to be friends with your ex, sit down and figure out what you’re both comfortable with. What are the boundaries you need to set in order for this to work? It could be rules like how often you should hang out, or what kind of things you guys are allowed to talk about. Most importantly, you can compromise but don’t force it! If being friends with your ex just isn’t working according to the rules both of you want, then simply don’t force it.

At this stage of salvaging your friendship with an ex, don’t be afraid to set boundaries. Remember that just because you’re friends with your ex doesn’t mean you have to share everything with them. If you’re not comfortable talking about certain things, let them know. If setting up ground rules are complicating things, then it’s not worth it if it’s not making both of you happy. Let things go and move on.

3. Don’t do it for the wrong reasons

Don’t try to be friends with your ex for the wrong reasons! Remember that you simply want to save the amazing friendship that you guys have. Don’t stay friends with them if either of you may have hidden agendas. Don’t do it just because you think it will make them like you more or get them back. Those are the wrong reasons and it’s not going to work.

Similarly, don’t use your friendship as a way to make your ex jealous. If you’re trying to make your ex jealous by being friends with them, it’s not going to work. It’s petty and it’s just going to make things awkward. Better look for other friends elsewhere if this is the case.

4. Don’t bring up the past

One of the biggest boundaries you need to set is to not bring up the past. At least if it isn’t necessary. That means no talking about what went wrong in your relationship, no reliving old arguments, and no dredging up old hurts.

You could probably talk about remembering their favorite things or moments to reinforce the friendship. But not about anything negative that may cause arguments. It will keep your friendship afloat by keeping things sentimental yet light.

5. Don’t compare your new relationship to your old one

It’s not fair to your new partner if you’re constantly comparing them to your ex. It’s also not fair to yourself. So don’t do it. If you do this, you are forgetting about your new relationship! Your new relationship should still be a priority.

Similarly, it’s natural to feel a little jealous when your ex moves on, but try to focus on the positive aspects of your own life. It’s inevitable that they’re going to date other people too. So don’t compare yourself to their new partner. This will only make you feel worse and is not fair to either of you.

6. Don’t flirt with your ex

This one should be pretty obvious, but it’s worth mentioning anyway: Don’t flirt with your ex! Just don’t do it. Flirting with your ex is crossing a major boundary. To respect this boundary, keep communication platonic. This means no flirting, no sexual innuendos, and no reminiscing about romantic good times in the relationship.

The key here is to not get too personal. There’s a difference between being friends with someone and being best friends with them. If you find yourself confiding in your ex about things you wouldn’t normally share, it’s probably time to take a step back. These things can lead to complicated feelings and make it difficult to stay just friends.

7. Don’t get too comfortable

Just because you’re friends with your ex doesn’t mean you should start getting too comfortable around them. This means don’t get too emotional around them. If you find yourself getting too emotional around your ex, it’s probably a good idea to take a step back and reassess the situation. Maybe go to other friends for more emotional conversations.

8. Don’t neglect your other friends

Just because you’re friends with your ex doesn’t mean you should forget about all your other friends. They’re still important to you and they still deserve your attention. Avoid spending too much time together. It’s okay to hang out occasionally, but if you find yourself spending more time with your ex than with your other friends, it’s probably not healthy for either of you.

You other friends are going to question your “friendly” relationship with your ex. And it’s not a good look. Try to balance your time among all your friends. This way, you also get to reinforce your ex’s new found place in your life as just a friend.

9.  Don’t let your ex take up too much space in your life

Always remember that you come first so don’t let your ex take too much space. Your relationship with your ex should never come at the expense of your own wellbeing. Don’t put your relationship with your ex before your relationship with yourself, your friends, or even family.

Just because you’re friends with your ex doesn’t mean they need to be a part of every aspect of your life.Leave that space open for a new lover!

10. Don’t give them relationship advice

Unless they explicitly ask for it, relationship advice is best left unsaid. It’s not your place to tell them what to do, and it can just make things awkward between you two. It may open up arguments and mocking conversations. Remember that your romantic relationship didn’t work out in the first place so don’t go back there looking for advice.

On the other hand, don’t go to them for relationship advice either! It’s generally not a good idea to go to an ex for relationship advice, no matter how close you are. They’re not impartial and it can just lead to confusion. So, don’t be a shoulder to cry on. If your ex is going through a tough time, it’s okay to be supportive, but don’t let them use you as a sounding board for all their relationship problems.

Breaking up with an ex doesn’t necessarily mean breaking up your friendship. When a romantic relationship has ended but both of you still wish to keep each other’s company— then by all means do so! Of course, not without boundaries. To keep a healthy friendly relationship with an ex means setting up ground rules.

The tips we’ve shared here today are few of the most common boundaries that people in a similar situation like you live by.

The ultimate book list: Surviving and thriving as a single person

Whether you’re single by choice or circumstance, there’s no doubt that being unattached has its set of unique challenges. But being single can also be one of the most empowering experiences in life - if you let it. To help you make the most of your single status, we’ve compiled a list of books every single person should read.

  1. Enjoy Your Solo: How to Be Great at Being Single
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  3. One Is A Whole Number: Recovering The Joy of Being Single
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Dating Expert

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a freelance writer who writes about psychology, relationships, and dating. She has always been interested in understanding the human brain and how it affects our …

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