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While it might seem difficult, when you're ready and you want to stay friends with your ex you'll need to practice forgiveness, says Dr. Ava Cadell, sexpert and spokesperson for The Experience Channel. “Forgiveness is the number one key to remaining friends with your ex, so forgive them and yourself.” She advises saying "I forgive you" and/or "I'm sorry" so you can move on.
Being friends with an ex doesn't mean the two of you are going to start doing everything together — because you're broken up. “Set new physical, emotional and sexual boundaries, which means changing the relationship to purely a platonic one,” advises Cadell.
There might be residual feelings of anger, but resist the urge to get nasty. “Do not badmouth each other to family or friends because it will get back to him,” warns Cadell. Real friends don't badmouth each other.
Treat your ex as politely as you treat your friends or co-workers. “Don't be as familiar as you used to be. A little less familiarity will generate a little more respect,” advises Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. “He's extended family now, and as with extended family, you don't have to like him, you just have to get along.”
Stop blaming your ex for whatever went wrong
Admit it takes two, and look for your role in the breakup. “Once you understand the dynamics of your old relationship, you'll feel less upset, and have an easier time forgiving and letting bygones be bygones,” explains Tessina. “You don't have to tell your ex what you understand, but your acceptance of some responsibility will make your interactions calmer and more respectful.”
If you have children, respect your ex as your child's other parent
“Whether or not you have children, respect your ex as a person you once loved enough to marry no matter how mistaken you might have been,” advises Tessina. “You once had hopes and dreams with this person. Though the dreams have died, and been replaced by new ideas, the person you once dreamed with deserves your respect.”
Before you can be friends, you need to deal with whatever came between you. “Understand and work through the reasons behind your breakup and be sure to not let those factors bleed into your new friendship,” affirms relationship expert and author of The Breakup Bible, Rachel Sussman.
Don't let the friendship hold you back
Being friends with your ex can sometimes backfire if you let it and keep you from moving forward. “Don't allow your friendship to impede you from dating and forming new romantic relationships,” says Sussman.
More about breakups
5 Ways to get over a breakup
Awkward: When you break up but don't break the lease
Real story: Why I broke off my engagement