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Rules for a Break-Up: Can You Ever Stay Friends?

Rules for Breaking Up: Can You Ever Stay Friends?According to People magazine, Katie broke up with Tom on the phone and caught him completely by surprise. Most break-ups aren’t quite that sudden. But, it did get me thinking… What are the rules for breaking up? And — Can you ever stay friends with your ex?

Should You Stay Friends?
If they initiated the break-up, it’s really hard to stay friends. Because deep down you still really want to be with them. And if you initiated the break-up, its not fair to expect the other person to be able to just be friends. Because they’re probably still in love with you.

If you watched this summer’s Breaking Pointe, the behind-the-scenes show about Salt Lake City’s Ballet West, you know what I mean. It was just painful watching Rex getting strung along by Allison.

Why “Friendly” Works Better than “Friends”
There’s nothing wrong with being friendly if you run into each other. And it’s especially important to be on good terms if you have kids together, share the same social circle, or work together. Though at first, polite may be the best you can do.

But, it’s usually best to keep your contact to a minimum. Just have the necessary conversations and attend the required events. But no hanging out just the two of you. No shared holidays or vacations. (Bruce Willis and Demi Moore are not normal! To spend holidays with your ex and their new love would be hard for most people. And it can also be confusing to the kids.)

Don’t Sabotage Your New Love
Julia Allison, the Los Angeles based dating columnist on Bravo’s MissAdvised;-) likes to stay friends with all her ex-es. And I can see her point. It’s unnatural to cut someone off, after you’ve shared so much. But, it’s also not natural to bring someone new into your life, when you’ve got all your ex-es hanging around. Who’s gonna want to share you with all your past loves?

As the Relationship Goes, So Goes the Break-Up
It can be really hard to be polite, let alone friendly, after a bad relationship and break-up. But, if the relationship was pretty healthy overall, the break-up is usually more manageable. And that makes it easier to stay friendly.
Are There Any “Rules” for Breaking-Up?

  • Do it Face-to Face
    The worst is when they disappear and you never hear from them again. It’s also pretty awful to hear that it’s over via a post-it (Sex and the City), text, email or call. Of course, if you can’t do it face-to-face, a call or text is better than nothing.
  • Use “I” Statements
    “I don’t want to go out anymore.”  (Not: “You’re not what I’m looking for.” OUCH)
  • Don’t Explain Why
    When breaking-up, less is definitely more. It never helps to give someone a list of all the reasons you don’t want to be with them. First of all, that can be hurtful. And second, it gives them hope that if they can change those things they might still have a chance.
  • Make a Clean Break
    Don’t try to wean yourself off gradually. It never works. And don’t keep tabs on them via facebook, twitter, etc. Any contact (even virtual contact) keeps you releasing bonding hormones that make it harder to move on. Plus, there’s always the risk of getting re-involved. And definitely no break-up sex!
Just give yourself plenty of time and space to grieve and heal (usually half-the length of the relationship). Then you’ll be ready to get back out there again!

Vonda (“Vondie”) Lozano, Ph.D., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Hypnotherapist. She’s been featured in Cosmopolitan, the Wall Street Journal and on KABC Talk Radio. Vondie offers hypnosis, counseling, and workshops in Ventura. Nearby cities include Camarillo, Ojai and Oxnard.

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