The concept of losing people who once played significant factors in your life can be uncomfortable at best and earth-shattering at worst. People tend to be shortsighted and operate under the false assumption that the way things are now, are the way they’ll always be, including the nature of relationships

But the only constant is change. People migrate in and out of lives, sometimes as often as the seasons change. If you’re someone who struggles with the transient nature of some relationships you may be tempted hold on to folks. But society generally encourages people to cut their former romantic partners out completely. It helps in the healing process, it allows for the right person to come into your life and you just get to avoid a whole lot of mess in the meantime. 

But what if you and your ex are meant to be there for one another after your romantic relationship has run its course? Can you be friends with your ex? It can be hard to tell. But here are some signs it could work. 

Enough time has passed

The best way to determine if you and your ex can be in one another’s lives peacefully is to let some time pass. Trying to be friends immediately after a breakup could be a recipe for disaster. Let some of those once intense feelings cool off. It will also give you a chance to think about what the person might have meant to you without the romantic component.

You started as friends

They say the best romantic relationships are the ones that begin with the couple as friends. That’s because as romantic love goes through its inevitable ebbs and flows, you and your partner can always fall back on the friendship. The same can be true if the romantic love fizzles entirely. If you realize you’re better as friends than you are as lovers, then go with the original program. Hopefully, both parties still see one another favorably.

They add to your life 

There are some people who tend to bring out the best in each other. If your former partner saw something in you that most don’t, it’s no surprise that you might have wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with that person. But if it didn’t work out, it’s not always wise to throw away genuine support systems. Let some time pass and rekindle the friendship with those who truly see you.

The relationship and the breakup weren’t toxic 

People have a tendency to change when things aren’t going their way. Occasionally breakups can get messy, with one or both parties hurling insults and taking actions that cannot be reversed. If you saw a darker side of the person you once loved when you broke up, then you might want to stay away. But if your ex managed to be loving and respectful even as you parted ways, there’s a chance that things could work in a platonic environment.

You’ve forgiven each other for any wrongdoing

Almost all relationships deal with conflict of some sort. After all, there is likely a good reason you and your ex are apart. But if you both were able to settle into a healthy perspective, complete with forgiveness and acceptance, you won’t take any of that baggage, negativity or hard feelings into the next phase of your relationship.

There are no more romantic feelings 

This should go without saying but there are more than a few people who seem to think they can do romantic things with people and still call them “friends.” It doesn’t work like that. If you notice that there still seems to be a spark between one or both of you, then it’s best to let the breakup be the end. But if you think of an ex and there is not even a hint of butterflies, you might be able to proceed into a proper friendship, with caution.

You both have set and adhere to appropriate boundaries 

Some exes can only remain friends when both parties are single. Because one or both people haven’t realized how to transition fully out of the romantic space and into a platonic one. If you still want to call your ex all times of day, if you still feel entitled to his or her time, if you can’t seem to show the proper respect for their new partner, there’s a chance you might want to fall back.