Bad Romance

    Illustration by Elena Aleksandrova/North by Northwestern.

    Staying friendly with your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend can feel like balancing on a tightrope while wearing ice skates, but it has been done. With some effort to power through the awkwardness and some tips on how to act around your ex, you’ll be back to normalcy, seeing him or her as a friend once again.

    Post Cheating Friendship

    Every breakup may feel unique, but cheating is a nearly a guaranteed relationship-killer. To stay friends after you cheated, beg for mercy. To stay friends after your significant other cheated, learn forgiveness. Lissa Coffey, Huffington Post’s relationship expert and frequent contributor to The Today Show, offers blunt advice. “It’s up to both parties to do their part. Counseling certainly helps. And complete honesty.”

    Post Breakup Friendship

    If you broke up with your former flame, give it time to cool down. You may be ready to accept the loss of intimacy, but he or she won’t warm to the idea immediately (and if he or she does, you don’t really have a problem). Wait for him or her to accept the situation. “If both agree on how they want to now define the relationship, then it should take no time at all,” Coffey says.

    If you’ve just been dumped, don’t beg him or her to take you back. Man up and face reality. Acceptance comes with time, so remove yourself from the situation and take a break. Communications junior Laura Edelman split with her boyfriend of two and a half years before studying abroad in Prague for four months. Edelman’s breakup went smoothly partly because of the distance – they never visited each other. “Being physically apart for so long really allowed me to clear my head,” Edelman says, “and without that distance, I don’t know what would have happened.”

    Either way, distance is key, and separation is necessary to retain a friendship between ex-couples. Now back in Evanston together (but not together), Edelman sees her ex-boyfriend occasionally, but says she prefers being with him while hanging out with some of their mutual friends to diffuse the tension.

    A general rule: no calling, texting or any other form of personal contact. Let the situation boil over with time. And once the two are ready, Coffey says, “be respectful and polite, leave the past in the past, and don’t bring up old stuff.”


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