Dating back to friends

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  4. More Than a Friendship, Less Than a Relationship – You're in a Flirtationship

We split up on the night of my homecoming from a four-month business trip to the States.

More Than a Friendship, Less Than a Relationship – You're in a Flirtationship | Her Campus

A few hours later, I was too tired to care about anything and fell asleep at my desk. When I awoke, my face had been bruised into alphabetical shapes by the keyboard - you could have played Scrabble on my forehead. More bizarrely, my legs had turned overnight into tree trunks; it turned out that I had slept so heavily that my circulation had all but stopped. My feet tingled and, annoyingly, one of my arms had gone dead. I crawled to bed and slept for three days and nights. On regaining consciousness, I was surprised to discover that my arm was still a dead weight, though the rest of me was shaping up nicely.

The GP explained that heavy sleep had left me with a charming condition called Drunkard's Palsy why do my complaints have to have such vulgar names? My arm would recover, he said, but that could take anything from six weeks to 12 months. Not the best time to break up with your boyfriend, perhaps. How do you muddle through a summer full of engagements, both professional and social, with your ex? Most of them were impossible to get out of. Besides, we had agreed that we would always be friends, and now we had to put this new relationship to the test before either of us was really ready.

At least there was no time for agonising, because we had to launch straight into one event after another. Thankfully, it was all much easier than we could ever have hoped - though we must have confused quite a few people by always arriving and leaving together we are close neighbours.

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Almost immediately, we slipped into our old roles at book launches, dinner parties, speaking engagements. For a while, it looked as though we ran the risk of spending too much time together, but after a while I stopped intellectualising and so did he, and we did what felt right. I knew things were back to normal when he called around to say that we had an invitation to Buckingham Palace, and then slipped me something that looked like a coupon from the back of a packet of Frosties. He had hoped to keep our beautiful invitation from the Lord Chamberlain and pass off the parking voucher as mine.

Something I didn't care much about now assumed huge proportions - I wanted that invitation! I started kung fu-ing around the house, trying to catch him, but he disappeared. A nervous giggle in the coat cupboard gave him away. A few Bruce Lee moves quickly had him flat on his back on the floor. I had forgotten how much I had missed our Tom-and-Jerry knockabouts.

Since then, life has resumed almost normal proportions: I go to some parties alone and we sometimes go together.

This weekend, we are speaking at the Althorp literary festival - only, Andrew is interviewing me, so I am a little apprehensive about what he might have planned but only a little. Remind yourself the relationship is over.


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One of the major downsides of staying friends with an ex is that it can sometimes keep the hope of a relationship alive. Remember, you are exes for a reason and you need to let go of any dreams you had for the relationship. If you find yourself fantasizing about your future together, stop.

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Think to yourself, "We're not together anymore, and that isn't going to happen. Think about how you can support each other as friends instead of as romantic partners. Fundamentally different world views or different lifestyles can cause a breakup. Now that you're just friends, you can appreciate these differences more. Now you're free to embrace the positives of having a friend who's different from you instead of worrying about your romantic compatibility. Call it off if you're feeling bad. It's okay to take a step back sometimes.

Stay aware of your feelings as you pursue a friendship. If things feel strained and you feel sad or drained when hanging out, it's okay to slow things down. Say something like, "Hey, I'm still feeling a little sad when we hang out. Let's stick to long distance communication for another week or two. If they're struggling with the idea of staying friends, respect any requests they make for space.

Manage feelings of lingering attraction. It's normal to still feel attracted to someone after a breakup, but don't try to feed into these feelings. It's hard to stay just friends if you're still having sex or being physically intimate. Some exes are able to maintain a physical relationship, or be friends with benefits, after a period of time.


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  • However, it's often a bad idea to pursue lingering attraction in the direct aftermath of a relationship. Stay respectful of one another.

    More Than a Friendship, Less Than a Relationship – You're in a Flirtationship

    Boundaries are key to any friendship and are often more important with delicate relationships. You and your ex need to stay respectful of each other's boundaries over time. Make sure you're not breaking any rules in regards to contact, and let your ex know what you need from them. For example, say something like, "I know I didn't want to discuss your dating life at first, but I feel more comfortable with that now.

    I'd be fine if you wanted to talk about it. Get family members and friends on board. It's easier to be friends with an ex if your own friends and family are on board, especially mutual friends. Let people know that the two of you are still friends and it's okay to invite you to the same events. Make sure people know there is no need to feel weird or uncomfortable when you and your ex are in the same room. For example, say something like, "I'm okay being friends with my ex, but I'm not ready to meet their new partner.

    I'd appreciate not being invited to events their partner is attending. Make sure new partners are comfortable with the friendship. A new romantic relationship can complicate your relationship with your ex. Let your partner know that you and your ex used to date. Make sure your partner understands the relationship is over and the two of you are just friends now. End the friendship if you're unable to manage your emotions.

    If you find the relationship is not working, it's okay to walk away. You may find you and your ex argue when you get together. You may be the one putting in all the effort while your ex is ignoring you. If the relationship is simply draining, it's okay to let it go. Not everyone can stay friends with their ex.

    Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips If things ended mutually or positively, then the chances of staying friends is higher. It may not be worth it to pursue a friendship if the relationship ended badly.

    Article Info This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.