Perhaps the first thing to consider when you’re attempting to stay friends with an ex-boyfriend…is why. And be honest with yourself. Be honest with yourself in the way that those horrible magnifying mirrors are, not in the way that your Instagram filters are. It’s less pretty but more technical.
Some of the right reasons for forging a friendship with your ex include: that you were platonic friends before you dated and you’d like to get back there, that you work together and would like to avoid any dramatic run ins, you have mutual friends (that you plan on keeping), your families are friends, you have a kid together, that sort of thing.
If you’re comfortable with the notion the next step is to make sure that he is. Your dog might love you unconditionally just for being alive but that doesn’t mean your ex will. Humans are emotional and egocentric which as we know isn’t always the best combo for fair communication and forgiveness. You might not understand why he can’t get over that one time you lied but his feelings should be respected nonetheless.
If you come to a mutual place of the desire for friendship, start slow. Don’t lie to each other about your current dating situations, but perhaps don’t share intimate details about the first guy you slept with after him lest your “friendly” conversation turn into a competitive tell all. Those don’t end well. Focus on what else you have in common besides the fact that you used to make out and gear the conversations in that direction. Stay on level ground.
If you can’t figure out what else you have in common perhaps you should reevaluate your hopes that you can still be close. Some of the wrong reasons to stay friends with your ex include: your desire to show him what he’s missing with how much more successful/pretty/all around lovely you can be, you’re hoping for a rekindling, you want to ruin his newly single dating life and show those girls what their up against, or if you’re still in love.
It’s rough, we know. But if there’s a part of you that’s holding out for one more chance you’re not really being honest with your friendly intentions, now are you. And on the flipside when he wants you back and you know you won’t have him, you have to consider if it’s fair to let him come over and cook for you anyway. Filling a void with an ex makes that line a little too blurry and paves the way for an excess of troubles.
Whether that tiny gnawing of feeling in your gut is love or guilt, it’s not to be ignored.