A breakup is one of the most harrowing ordeals many people go through. Everyone takes it differently, and while many have these experiences, it feels like no one can understand how you’re feeling in the moment. You want comfort; sometimes, comfort is through keeping a platonic relationship with your ex, or so you believe.
Every breakup is different. Some are incredibly traumatizing, while others end cordially. You or your ex may want to remain friends in these situations. This is easier to do when the relationship ends on good terms, but there may still be lingering romantic feelings on one or both ends.
After all, you may wonder if anyone will ever understand you as they do, make you smile the way they do, or know when you’re feeling your lowest. So many memories are made with this person that it is hard to let go of it all.
It feels awful to give all that up just because things didn’t work out romantically. There are pieces you want to hold on to that aren’t necessarily romantic but are intimate and valuable to you. Some people are indeed better friends than they are romantic partners. However, there are instances in which this is easier said than done.
Remaining friends with your ex can work, but it doesn’t always, depending on your motivations for the friendship. Learn which situations it might work in and how to maintain a platonic relationship with an ex.
Why Do You Want to Nurture a Platonic Relationship with Your Ex?
It isn’t unheard of to stay friends with a former partner after a relationship ends. Some people have good motivations that encourage these friendships. It is imperative to be honest with yourself.
Often, friendship-turned-romantic partners revert to platonic relationships once they realize they’re not romantically compatible. In other instances, children or business dealings may be involved, and developing a positive platonic relationship might be the best thing to do.
You need to know the reasons behind pursuing this friendship. According to a study on this topic, there are 4 reasons why someone may want to maintain a friendship with an ex: security, practicality, civility, and unresolved romantic desires. This study found that staying friends for security and practical reasons had the most favorable outcomes.
This is a time to ask yourself whether the motives for wanting to be friends have practical or security reasons. If you’re pursuing this friendship to be civil or because you’re hoping for more in the future, things can be painful down the road.
What Is a Platonic Relationship?
Platonic relationships are bonds formed without ulterior romantic or sexual motives. These relationships are often formed with the people you connect with the most. You’ll feel comfortable sharing deep thoughts or having vulnerable experiences with these people.
These are the types of friends you develop life goals with and can trust without reservation. You may share similar interests and grow with this person on a different level. Essentially, they complement you in some way.
In platonic relationships, the deep emotional investment makes you feel like someone is always there. You love and care deeply about this person. However, those feelings are not attached to sexual or romantic attraction.
You may want a platonic relationship with your former lover because you bared your soul to this person, and vice versa. This is possibly the closest person in your life, the one you speak to the most and with whom you’ve shared the most meaningful conversations. Now that the romantic or sexual pressures are no longer there, slipping into a platonic relationship may seem like the best thing to do, but is it? Keep reading to find out.
How To Develop a Platonic Relationship with A Former Partner
Honesty is an essential aspect of platonic relationships. This requires being honest with yourself as well. If you genuinely believe this is what you want, here is the best way.
Allow time to do the healing
Maintaining a platonic relationship with an ex partner should not be part of your healing process. It shouldn’t be a way to ease the pain. Friendships with an ex should be after your healing process.
You shouldn’t do this to see whether you’ve honestly gotten over them or if there are any chances of getting back together. If unreciprocated emotions are still involved, you’ll be causing much more hurt.
Take your time to heal from the breakup, especially if you were the one broken up with. The platonic friendship you want to maintain may be because you’re still hoping things will return to how they used to be. If you initiated the breakup, you still need to heal.
You’ll miss them because they were a considerable part of your life. You might even feel lost without them in your life. However, allowing yourself to adjust to a life without your partner would be best. Don’t immediately focus on turning things into friendships to get them back into your life.
When you feel like you can be together without sexual tension, intense emotional energy, and discomfort, you’ll know you’re ready for a friendship with your ex. Healing can take months, even years. Once you’ve accepted the breakup and detached from your former partner, see if being friends with them is still something you want.
Make sure it is mutual
Are you both on the same page?
You can’t truly build a platonic connection if the friendship is one-sided. Platonic relationships need open communication, mutual desires, and understanding to thrive.
Being emotionally there for someone who doesn’t have a genuine appreciation for the new bond you’re forming will not work. You’re opening doors to a new form of heartbreak, equally as painful, if not more, than your first one.
Although you’re letting your heart feel a different type of love, you’re still allowing yourself to be vulnerable to this person.
Another situation to consider is whether your former partner has healed. If they still want you romantically, they may confuse the platonic connection as something you don’t intend it to be. If you perceive some signs, such as jealousy and lack of respect for your boundaries from your ex, it is best not to push for a friendship. Let them heal.
Ensure the new-formed platonic relationship won’t affect romantic relationships
There are a lot of different things to consider. Will you be okay if your ex ends your platonic relationship because their partner is uncomfortable? Are you comfortable letting go of future connections to keep the one with your ex? What sacrifices are you willing to make to maintain this platonic relationship?
Eventually, you’ll move on with someone new, and so will they. Three might be a crowd. Not everyone that comes into your life will be accepting of your relationship with your ex. It is possible to find someone who will accept your relationship with your ex but be ready to have serious conversations about this with whomever you date.
Have healthy boundaries and adjust as you go
Every relationship needs healthy boundaries. They act as a foundation for the success of the relationship. It would be best to have boundaries to ensure your platonic relationship goes as smoothly as possible.
When setting these boundaries, you need to consider communication, which involves how often you communicate with each other and how deep these conversations can get. Although there won’t be sexual intimacy in your platonic relationship, you should also set physical boundaries. Are all forms of non-sexual physical intimacy off the table? These are all things that should be clear for both of you.
Be understanding during this process. The boundaries you form will encourage a healthy platonic relationship that fosters mutual respect. You may need to adjust these boundaries when someone new enters the picture romantically.
You should both be comfortable with the boundaries you set. If setting and respecting each other’s boundaries is not something one or both of you can get on board with, then keeping the friendship is not a good idea. It will only make things confusing and interfere with your subsequent romantic relationships.
Remember that maintaining a platonic relationship with a former partner is not always necessary, even when you have healthy reasons.
Keeping platonic relationships requires conscious effort on both ends. This new form of relationship should bring positivity into your life, not complicate it. If this friendship has a weak foundation, is one-sided, or is unhealthy, it is not worth pursuing.
Give each other time to see whether you want to pursue a platonic relationship. Don’t feel obligated to stay friends with an ex out of guilt or because they asked you to. If you develop a friendship that is not working out, take a different approach. You may need more space, or friendship may not be best. You can still care about them even when you’re not in each other’s lives.