It’s OK to break the rules every now and then. You can wear white after labor day, eat after 7 p.m., and you can be friends with your ex. Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner are proof. Not all rules, especially unwritten ones, are as cut and dry as they seem. So if bending or breaking a major one like being friends with your ex is something you feel strongly about, all the power to you, or in this case, all the power to Taylor and Taylor.
After they split in 2009, Taylor Lautner became a favorite Taylor Swift ex among Swifties (right up there with Harry Styles and later Joe Jonas, IYKYK). So when Taylor Swift called Taylor Lautner and his wife, Taylor, some of her closest friends after featuring her ex in a new music video, we couldn’t have been happier. (How many times can I say Taylor in one short paragraph?) The point is, you can, in fact, be friends with an ex and even their new lover, too.
If all the Taylors in this world can do it, so can we. Ahead, a breakdown of how exactly you can be friends with your ex one day… after you’ve listened to your fair share of breakup songs, of course.
Take time apart
Switching your status from romantic to platonic is possible but not in the blink of an eye. Post-breakup, take some time apart before trying to establish your new dynamic. How much time, you ask? Well, that part is totally up to you. If you were in a relationship for a really long time, it could take you up to a year or more to be ready to start being friends with an ex. But if it was a short, never-that-serious relationship, you might just need a few weeks. During that time apart, take time to reflect and reset. This will help you start a friendship later on with a fresh perspective.
Leave the past in the past
You’ll be hard-pressed to develop a strong friendship with someone if you have bad blood (*wink*), especially if that someone is your ex. Before you establish friendship status, have an honest conversation with yourself (and them!) to decide what you need to do to move on, clear the air, or squash old issues so they don’t cause problems in your friendship. Once that conversation is behind you and you have a bit of closure, be mindful of bringing up the past. Reminiscing about the good ol’ days or making comments about how good the sex was, for example, could easily drift into a more-than-friends zone.
Establish clear boundaries
When you start being friends with an ex, it’s important that you set clear boundaries, which will likely look different than the boundaries you may have set when you were together. Your friendship boundaries could include but are not limited to, avoiding romantic or sexual interactions, having physical contact (like having a friendly arm around one another, hugging for a beat too long, or maybe even being in the same room as them until you feel ready), bringing up old arguments, or invading their privacy (like asking them about their love life or personal finances). There is a fine line between being close with them because they are your friend and falling back into old ways, so setting the boundaries you need to ensure you have a healthy and strong friendship is crucial.
Respect each other’s privacy
Guess what? You don’t have to tell each other everything anymore. There is a new level of privacy that needs to be respected that you might not have had to consider when you were together. For example, it’s none of your business if they got home later than they said they would, went out with someone else, or made a huge purchase. This might be difficult to adjust to, since in (healthy) relationships, partners usually tell each other everything. You absolutely can share anything with one another as friends, but you both need to recognize that you don’t have to give the small, intimate details of your life to the other person day in and day out.
Manage your expectations
Starting a friendship after being in a relationship with someone is like entering a level of friend zone you didn’t know could exist—especially with them. Whether you want to stay in that friend zone forever with them or you would like to one day, maybe, see if you two could make things work together romantically again, you’ll have to manage your expectations for the current chapter you are in. For example, don’t go into your newfound friendship expecting everything to be easy and seamless because it might be difficult sometimes (especially if you still have some feelings for each other!), and don’t assume that your friendship with them will be super strong right off the bat because you’ve known each other for so long. Establishing your friendship together can take time, and that’s normal, healthy, and totally OK.