We hear of so many romantic tales about friendships that turn into romantic relationships. But what about the other way around? Can a couple successfully move their relationship from romance-status to platonic friendship? The answer? Well, it depends on the partners involved. Here are some things to consider when determining if you and your partner could shift from lovers to friends.
From Lovers to Friends: Things to Consider
Let Broken Hearts Mend
There’s no right way to feel when shifting from lovers to friends, but it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that there may be some grieving of the old relationship. Even if your partner isn’t leaving your life entirely, you may find that your heart needs to mend before embracing this new way of relating to each other. It’s totally okay to need some space and time to let broken hearts mend before you feel ready to show up in this new capacity as a friend.
All relationships, whether they be romantic, plutonic, or work-related, need a solid foundation of healthy communication. Perhaps this is needed even moreso as you and your former partner lay out what this new relationship looks like for you. Not only are you both processing the end of a romantic bond, you both are filling new shoes – you previously knew each other as partners, and you may go through a period of relearning each other as friends. There might be some bumps as you both navigate this journey, and healthy communication is one of the best buffers against egregious emotional injury.
Seeing Them with Someone Else
The end of your romantic relationship may open the door to a new relationship, whether for you, your former partner, or both. This may be one of the trickiest parts of going from lovers to friends, as it can trigger feelings of jealousy, grief, and insecurity and may shift the friendship itself as more time is invested in the new romantic relationship.
It’s important to be honest with ourselves. Seeing a former lover with someone else can be pretty rough – if you feel it might do you more harm than good to watch your partner love another, explore what boundaries might feel best to you. You might not be impacted, you might decide preserving the friendship is worth it, or you might decide a clean break is in your best interest. None of these options are right or wrong – do what feels okay to you.
Of course, this could fall under healthy communication (see above), but it’s important enough to point out separately. Setting expectations for this new chapter could help reduce the bumps you both might experience. Knowing that they are not set in stone, what ground rules feel good to both of you at this stage in your relationship?
Are you going to be friends with benefits? Is it ok to rely on each other in an emergency? What happens if one of you find a new partner – will the friendship status between you change? Will you still see each other often? Only connect by phone? Are there things that are ok to talk about while other things are off limits?
Again, these ground rules so to speak are not written in stone and can be adjusted as you both need. At the same time, however, setting expectations in advance can help you both know what it will look like during the transition from lovers to friends.
There’s no right or wrong way to close the chapter of a romantic relationship. A couple can certainly move from lovers to friends successfully, but it might take some effort and definitely takes some careful consideration from both partners. Find some middle ground that works for the both of you, and remember: you can always give it a try and decide how it feels as you go.
If you’d like some help navigating a tricky relationship issue, our relationship coaches could be a great fit. Please don’t hesitate to reach out – you don’t have to do figure this out alone.