From Friends to Lovers and Back

In my counseling office, I’m often asked about friends who once were lovers, and if they can make the change to friends again. Friendships that go from friends to lovers back to friends can be very close, because you know each other so well. The first thing you need to do is talk about it. Make a deal that you won’t do anything that would jeopardize your friendship, and stick to it. (That means, acting as a friend, and not being jealous if he/she has a date.)                       

The more emotionally mature you are, the easier it is to re-establish the friendship. Openness increases intimacy. So friends who can talk about everything feel closer than friends who can’t.

However, friendships have more limits on sharing than lover relationships do. If you’ve found someone new, you have to consider your sexual partner, too, who might not like his or her privacy invaded; and who might be uncomfortable that you’re close to an ex.

It may be surprising, but, many people do become friends again after they’ve divorced or split up. Here are some guidelines for doing that successfully.

So, your ex has been hanging around, helping you out with things around the house, eating dinner with you and the kids, or just calling you up to talk about good times in the past. Old, friendly feelings seem to be coming back. Can you really revert to being friends? Here’s how to see if you and your ex can make it work.

• Go very slowly. It takes time to get re-organized as friends. Talk about your friendship and tell the truth. If it’s going to work, it will go better if you go more slowly, and you’ll have a chance to build a better foundation than before.

• Treat it like a new friendship. Start from the beginning, and do it differently—you have to figure out the difference between being lovers and being friends.

• Be conscious about being friends—talk about what you miss about your friendship—if you cannot talk honestly about what changed and what to do differently, you won’t succeed

• Make sure your ex wants the friendship as much as you do. If there are unresolved old feelings, you need to talk about them.

• If you run into difficulty, you may want to seek counseling to repair the friendship and resolve the ex-lover relationship.

© 2015 Tina B. Tessina adapted from: Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences (Kindle and Paperback)


Author Bio: Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 35 years’ experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty and  Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.

Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.

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