It seems like a natural progression. Two people with a mutual interest meet and a friendship begins. As time goes on, that friendship becomes more intimate and a romance blossoms. Being both friends and romantic partners can be very satisfying, but at some point the pressure of maintaining the relationship becomes too great and a breakup occurs. Quite often, the pain is doubled by the realization that a great friendship may have been lost along with the romance. But it doesn't have to remain this way forever. Here are some tips for recovering the friendship after a romantic breakup.
- Time heals most wounds, but don't let time slip away from you. Even if the breakup itself was full of sound and fury, you should make your intentions of salvaging the friendship clear to your former partner. Allow some time for the initial emotions to calm down, but if the opportunity arises to clear some air or discuss the future, take it. You might say to your friend "I understand we weren't good as a couple, but I still want to spend time with you at school. I still think you're really funny and talented and I don't want to miss all that."
- Perform an act or gesture which demonstrates your continued support of your friend's interests. Send flowers or a card after an artistic performance, or encourage people to become your friend's potential clients or offer to repair or replace something she needs. Sometimes a former romantic partner needs tangible proof that you aren't going to be a stumbling block in the future.
- If your intentions are to repair a friendship, speak respectfully to her friends and family after the breakup. You can't expect someone to forgive you if all she hears is negative gossip or secondhand information. It's up to you to establish your intentions with all of your mutual friends and family members. Every chance you get, tell someone "I really wish I hadn't blown my opportunity to be with her. I really hope we can somehow become friends again." People tend to remember the last thing you say, so be consistent. Once enough mutual acquaintances have given her the same quotes, she may begin to trust you again.
- Take the offensive and ask her out to an event of mutual interest. This isn't a date, so don't treat it like one. You happen to be going to a convention or a lecture somewhere and you knew she'd might like to attend it herself. Meals should be split evenly whenever possible, and if she offers you gas money, accept it. Try to steer conversations away from the broken relationship and onto the matter at hand. The fact that she agreed to be at the same event with you demonstrates an interest in rekindling a friendship. Take it very, very slowly. When the event is over and you've arrived at her door, tell her you had a nice time and you'll call her again if anything else of interest comes up. A chaste kiss or hug might be appropriate, but don't linger.
- If you really want to become friends with a former partner, accept your limitations. Don't look at casual meetings or outings as dates, and don't try to escalate friendly gestures into romantic overtures. This person is your friend, period. If she finds someone else to date romantically, be supportive and open. If she decides not to remain friends with you, accept her decision and spend your time cultivating new friendships and new romantic interests.