Boundaries for being friends with an ex: 10 lines you MUST NOT cross

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It’s perfectly fine to stay friends with your exes.

But bear in mind that it could get a little bit tricky. They used to be someone you loved with all your heart, after all.

There are boundaries you need to maintain if you want to keep things healthy.

In this article, I will tell you 10 lines you must never cross if you want to have a good relationship with your ex.

1) Stay away from their love life

A breakup is a breakup. Their private life is no longer any of your business, just as yours is no longer their concern.

Don’t ask “So who are you dating now?” just a month after your break-up.

You might wonder… “Well, don’t friends talk about their love lives with one another?” And sure, they do.

But you’re not “just” friends. You’re friends who were once exes, and that means any relationship talk can get bogged down by your past together.

Sure, time will eventually come when you can talk about your love lives more comfortably with one another. But that will take a while—years—and for now, you should keep your distance.

2) Listen to them when they say no

Knowing your boundaries shouldn’t be so hard if you listen and pay close attention.

It’s always important to respect people when they say no, no matter what your relationship with them is. But it’s even more important to respect this when you are exes.

You might feel that you are comfortable with one another after your breakup, but expect that things will remain somewhat touchy still.

You might be joking around and then, out of reflex, you tickle them and they say “no!” or “stop!”

When they do, listen and back out immediately. Don’t try to excuse yourself by saying “oh, I was just being friendly” or something similar.

It’s perfectly clear. Your ex doesn’t want you touching them. So take note of that.

3) Don’t make cringy moves to win them back (do it subtly!)

Flirting and wooing someone gets very creepy and awkward when you do it to someone who doesn’t want it, especially if it’s your ex!

Think about it. You’re no longer a thing for a reason, and they most likely don’t want to have you making attempts at bringing them back.

And while they might try to act polite with you on the surface, you might have gotten them to decide to COMPLETELY cut you out of their life.

But if you feel that they’re just hiding their feelings for you, then give it another go. But do it ever so subtly.

You see, subtlety is key when it comes to winning the heart of an ex.

I learned about this from Brad Browning, a relationship expert who specializes in getting an ex back. What I like about Brad’s techniques is that they’re not sleazy.

In this free video, you’ll get an idea of his approach. And trust me, it’s one of the smoothest, non-cringy ones I’ve encountered. It won’t make you look desperate at all!

No matter what your situation is, Brad can help you turn things around.

Here’s a link to his free video again. If you really want your ex back, this video will help you achieve this.

4) Stay away from their bed

It might be tempting to hook up with them for a one-night stand or even get into a friends-with-benefits situation with them.

They might even be the first to suggest it!

It might be tempting to accept, especially if you want them back. They offered it first, didn’t they?

But don’t. This is a horrible move for either of you. It can complicate your feelings for one another, blurring lines and making it all too easy to cross other lines that must not be crossed.

For example, you might end up thinking that they are getting their feelings back for you, and hope that you’ll get together again… except that, no, they’re not falling in love with you again.

If you want to get your ex back, you’re best off consulting an expert.

5) Don’t vague-post about them on social media

People are not stupid.

You may think that you’re just venting your frustrations out on social media and that because you didn’t mention them by name, it’s okay.

But it’s not. People—especially your ex— will figure out who or what you’re talking about!

Posting about private drama on social media never ends well. You are not only risking your friends picking your relationships apart and getting them to take sides, you’re also risking total strangers weighing in and making things worse.

There’s a reason many people end up locking their accounts or even disappearing from social media entirely after vague-posting about their relationships.

Needless to say, you’re going to lose any friendship you have with your ex if you try to pull off this stunt.

They will block you. That’s almost a guarantee!

6) Don’t insist on giving them “favors”

You want to feel connected with them (and you still want to win them back), so you take advantage of their birthdays as well as when you know they’re in trouble.

Saying “Hey, I heard you’re having trouble with your paper. I’m just here anytime you need guidance, okay?” would be fine.

Saying “Hey, I hired someone to mow your lawn” or “Hey, I paid for your subscription” is most probably not.

The reason why the latter ones are not acceptable is because you’re not giving them a choice. You’re just shoving your help in their face and… well, even if they would have appreciated it anyways, that approach will leave a bitter taste in their mouth.

Now, offering help like this may be sweet when you’re still together, but it hits differently when they’re your ex.

They will get the impression that you’re just a tryhard trying to sway them back to your side, or perhaps making them feel guilty enough that they’ll have no choice but to entertain you. Cringe.

7) Don’t talk about the past in a romantic way

Stop getting nostalgic of your time together, no matter what. If they really see you as a friend, they’ll cringe and push you away for it.

They might also suspect that you’re just trying to be friendly because you have other motives, which is definitely a no-no for exes!

So don’t go around telling them about how much you missed the time you had together. Don’t fill your social media feed with #TBT pictures of the two of you.

These things put a spotlight on your time together and can easily turn what would otherwise be a fun chat into an awkward encounter.

Sure, you might genuinely miss those times and love looking at those pictures, but it just isn’t appropriate and you’re best off keeping them locked up in your head.

And if you take it to social media, you will look like you’re trying to make it seem like you’re still together.

Some things just aren’t meant to be shared. It feels manipulative. It feels like you’re trying to tell them “I miss you so much, please come back to me!” without actually saying those exact words out loud.

8) Don’t tell their current partner about you

If they have found someone new, then for the love of all that is holy above and below, never tell them that you’re the ex.

If they must know that you’re the ex, then let your ex tell them about it first, and once they know… leave it be. Pretend that it’s irrelevant… because it is.

It might be tempting to try to gossip with them about your relationship secrets or try bonding over your experiences with them, from dates to sex to arguments.

But don’t. Imagine if you were dating someone and then your date’s ex decided to tell you about the time when THEY were together. You’d feel bad and jealous and want nothing to do with that person.

So back off. They have a new life now. If you really want to be their friend, be a good one.

9) Don’t keep holding on to grudges

You will have plenty of baggage regarding your ex. That much is a certainty.

Perhaps they’re the reason you have trust issues now. Or perhaps you’re bitter by the fact that you’re the one always spending for them.

Unfortunately for you, the time for you to settle these issues has passed. You’re no longer together, and you’re no longer each other’s business.

So unless it’s something actually very important—like, say, shared debt or custody—you should simply bury the hatchet.

If you want to continue being on good terms with your ex, you need to make sure you aren’t dragging your relationship down with needless conflict.

10) Don’t be too clingy

This is incredibly important.

It might feel strange especially after being so close for so long, but it’s important for you to make sure you’re putting a healthy amount of distance between the two of you.

You’re now friends, and you should act the part. Instead of poking them every day about how their day is, and hoping that things are going well for them, instead, try chatting up a casual conversation every three days… or maybe once a week.

Being too clingy will give them the impression that you desperately want them back, or that you want to keep pretending that you’re still together.

And that just isn’t going to work if you want to continue being friends with one another. They might even call it off for being too awkward.

Do these things instead

A lot has been said about what you shouldn’t do, but it’s also important to talk about the things that you should do.

1) Talk about boundaries

If you encounter each other often, Instead of guessing and feeling it out, talk.

If you are to continue being friends, it’s important that you make sure you agree on your boundaries.

Don’t just rely on assumptions, even if you’ve befriended another ex of yours before—everyone is different.

For example, maybe one of your old exes is fine with you talking about your history together while your newest ex loathes the idea and would rather bury the memory.

Speak directly, and make sure you are specific with the things you’re talking about. Note things down so that you won’t forget them in the future.

2) Be okay with them finding someone new

Look, don’t use friendship as a strategy.

You shouldn’t be trying to be “friends” with your ex if you ultimately want to drag them back into your life. So yes, support them when they try to find love!

You might feel a little jealous, but that’s okay. You’ll have to deal with it at some point or another anyways.

You should be able to love freely. If they truly want you back, they will be back.

3) Have a bit of time for yourself

You will need some time to yourself to get over things in the days following the breakup to process things and avoid overstepping boundaries in desperation.

This can take you a few days or a few weeks. It depends on how strong your feelings about the breakup are.

And sometimes you will still need to have a timeout even after you have gotten over that initial turmoil. You can find yourself jealous or heartbroken randomly, for example.

As much as you can, try to communicate clearly that you would be taking time for yourself if you are going to do so. Otherwise, you risk the chance of them assuming you’re ghosting them.

4) Maintain your boundaries

I’ve talked a lot about paying close attention to your ex’s boundaries and respecting them.

This goes the other way around as well. After all, why should you respect your ex’s boundaries if they aren’t respecting yours in turn?

If you ever feel like your ex is crossing your boundaries, don’t be afraid to call them out on it and take a step back.

Remember—you can always say no, too! Even if —or especially if—you still love them.

5) Cut things off if it doesn’t work

Sometimes friendships are just not meant to be, and in that case, the best option you have is to simply walk away and put some distance between the two of you.

Perhaps they kept crossing your boundaries, or you crossed theirs’. Alternatively, you might find yourself falling in love again when you swore you wouldn’t.

Should you do this, however, try to do your best to communicate this fact with them.

You might say, for example, that you think your attempts at staying just friends aren’t working and that you should just stop so that both of you can move on.

Should you really stay friends?

You might have wondered a few times if it’s okay for you to keep being friends after your breakup. And the answer is that it depends on what your relationship is like.

Don’t keep being friends if:

  • They were abusive to you in the relationship. Trying to be friends with them will only lead to more abuse.
  • You’re secretly hoping to get back together. You’re only going to end up heartbroken.
  • You can tell that they aren’t exactly over you get stressed easily..
  • Talking to them makes you feel tense and stressed somehow.
  • It feels like your attention is just one-sided, and that they’re not that interested in you.
  • You easily get jealous at the idea of them finding a new partner.
  • You’re clearly still having a hard time moving on.
  • You’ve been hoarding or tossing your ex’s belongings (or vice versa!)

Keep being friends if:

  • You feel comfortable around your ex, instead of feeling tense and uneasy.
  • You both are comfortable with the idea of dating other people.
  • You can both maintain the boundaries you’ve set for yourselves and for the other.
  • You have kids together, share a friend circle, or are acquainted professionally.
  • You enrich each other’s lives and don’t feel a need to become partners again.
  • You have both taken the time to let your break-up sink in, process it, and reconcile with it.
  • You have taken the time to learn from your relationship’s failure and why it failed the way it did.

Last words

Being friends with your ex can be very fulfilling. It’s nice knowing that just because your relationship has ended, doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to each other forever.

But there are several hard boundaries that you need to be careful not to cross if you want to keep that friendship going.

The most important thing you need to make this work is maturity. With maturity, it should be easy for you to avoid crossing these lines.

It can be tough—these boundaries are tighter than they are in “normal” friendships—but unless your ex is an abusive person, it is well worth it.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

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