It’s the dreaded four-word phrase? “Can we be friends?” It’s a classic break-up line, but it’s also an issue that must be faced when a relationship hits the rocks. In reality, the questions ought to be “should we be friends?” And, if so, “how will we define that relationship?” Below are some points to ponder when facing the partnership to friendship dilemma.

Take Care of Self First

Whether it’s a marriage or a significant partnership, there are issues that you must manage when the romance ends. In the case of divorce, there is a legal process to manage. There may be property and assets to divide.

Decisions may have to be made about mutual friends and whether those relationships can continue. Focus first on the “business” of ending your relationship. It is your responsibility to manage this process with knowledge and dignity. Your first thought should not be about the place your ex will hold in your future.

Focus on healing yourself. Take time to reflect on the relationship and learn the inevitable lessons that arise from that experience. Use your support network to heal emotionally. Use exercise, hobbies and your favourite activities to keep yourself physically active and vibrant. And in most cases, remember you can’t rely on your ex to help you recover or to find closure.

Evaluate Your Intentions

When approaching a friendship with an ex, take time to understand your motives for pursuing that relationship. Remember what defines a friendship: conversation, connection, support and mutual interests.

Again, if your motive is to seek closure, “check up” on your former partner, rekindle your romance or inflict some sort of revenge on the one that wronged you, it is probably best to let more time past. If you are truly friends, time will not diminish that connection. Don’t rush into something that is unhealthy or dysfunctional.

Assess Their Value

From time to time, we all clean out our closets, getting rid of the clothes or household goods that no longer suit us. Too often, we don’t do this with our friends and acquaintances. It is important that we fill our lives with people who bring value to our existence. Make a list of pros and cons to nurturing a friendship with your former partner.

Realise that the same reasons that led to the relationship’s end may be the factors that make a friendship with your ex not beneficial. Be prepared to acknowledge the fact that someone who was a critical part of your past may not have a place in your future.