The simple answer to the question of can exes be friends after divorce is….it depends.
Some people were great pals before marriage and want to continue this post-divorce. It is doable with these caveats.
Let there be some space between your divorce and picking up the friendship. Both parties may not be over hurts or harbour some resentment over the divorce process itself. One may be farther along on the divorce continuum of moving on, and the other is stuck and not catching up. Waiting a bit helps in establishing clear boundaries and avoiding the “friends with benefits.”
Jumping into bed immediately after divorce – when neither have sex partners – hampers starting separate lives.
Meet up again when not feeling lonely or craving intimacy. Enlarge your circle of acquaintances and business networks, plus renew old friendships. Feeling fulfilled with your social life fills the void left by a departing spouse.
Be proactive and inform your friends that you both are cool about your changed relationship and there is no need to take sides. Tell mutual friends that they are not being disloyal remaining in contact with the two of you. This alerts them that neither of you has to be dropped from their guest list nor is bumping into each other socially an issue.
Avoid meeting at your favourite places that you frequented when married.
Go to a new café or have more informal get-togethers at coffee houses. The point is not to relive your marriage when forging a new relationship with your former spouse. When the marital history is firmly anchored in the past, some divorced people claim that they are great judges of potential partners for their exes. They know these peoples’ strengths and weaknesses and can give an opinion on whether or not it is a good match.
When children are involved, make it clear to them that mummy and daddy are friendly, but are not getting back together again. Ever.
This is important so that the kids can accept a future step-parent.
It is lovely when both parents can share important moments and holidays with the youngsters. Children can feel more grounded when parents are not perceived as enemies, but rather being on good terms.
Take stock of your emotions. Maybe being friends with your former spouse is just not in the cards. Some couples are totally done with each other after a break up. Someone can have an ulterior motive in “Let’s be friends.” If something does not seem right, then pull back. You may need to take a breather to carefully evaluate your situation. Perhaps you both require a break from each other to gain some clarity in setting up boundaries for this changed relationship.
It could be that being friends is a no go. Do not let yourself be coerced into anything, and if friendship is on the agenda, it will happen.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.
She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is globalguidetodivorce.com.