By Frank Kermit MA
April 27, 2016
Most of the time, I get asked by clients how to go from being just friends with someone, to actually dating them. In fact, it is so popular a question that I have written a book: 'From Friends To Lovers: Stop Being Her Emotional Cookie Man' and have recorded a 2-hour MP3 lecture on the subject.
Occasionally however, I do get the reverse. A person that asks how to stop being lovers, but still stay friends?
This can be somewhat challenging as the nature of going from lovers to just friends, is very dependent on the kind of sexual relationship that existed previously. If the two of you were just casual lovers or friends-with-benefits, and there was never any expectation of things getting into a more serious commitment, then transitioning from lovers to friends might be a simpler process.
If the two of you were dating more seriously with the hopes of it becoming a committed long term relationship, staying friends after ending your sexual involvement may not even be a good idea, depending on how attached or hurt one or both of you are after the break up.
There are times, when going from lovers to friends may require a period of no-contact, to help with personal healing and breaking attachment patterns. So, becoming friends may still happen, but likely only after a period of not being actual friends, but still remaining on “friendly” terms. (Usually this means that although someone is hurt or feeling rejected, they do not resort to attacks on your character just because of the break up).
The best way to manage becoming friends after being lovers is to manage the friendship from before you become lovers in the first place. If you make it clear between both parties before starting a physical relationship, that there is no desire or expectation of something more serious later on, it will be easier to remain friends afterwards. Part of managing those expectations is to also make it clear to both partners that this arrangement is a time limited involvement. You start off by being clear this can and will end at any time. Even in cases where someone develops feelings for the other, it is still easier to remain friends in the long run, if you are both honest about the meaning (or lack thereof as the case may be) your sexual relationship actually has.
If you are in a more committed relationship and you want to stop being lovers and demote each other back to friends (sounds kind of harsh doesn’t it?), the best way to break up is to focus on all the reasons you are both incompatible for a future long term relationship. If your long term plans are in conflict (for example, one of you wants to raise a family in the country, while the other wants to live in the city), then using that as a basis for ending the relationship has the greatest chances of salvaging a friendship after sex.
Simply acting on a lack of attraction, or feelings lost will not garner feelings of friendship. Yes, losing those honeymoon phase feelings does happen, even in the best of couples and lovers, but that alone does not have to mean the end of being lovers (as many successful long term couples will attest too). Even the best of connections can hit an attraction slump on the road of pleasure.
If you stop being lovers because of your long-term incompatibilities, and not based on your moment-to-moment feelings, there are less hurt feelings, less feelings of rejection, and a lot more understanding.
Even if you aren’t able to become the best of friends, at the very least, you are more likely to end up on “friendly-enough” terms. In an age of social media, that is a grand option.