Can you maintain a friendship with your ex?
We have all had it happen. We had that great friendship with the opposite sex that defied all logic. You could discuss anything, share your deepest secrets and do fun things together. It was great, no weird feelings or drama between you. The perfect platonic male/female friendship. It was great. Then you decided that you get along so well that you should date and it all changed. You slept with the person, fell in love and had a relationship. There were fights, massive drama and eventually it didn't work out and you broke up. You just did not fit well together in a romantic relationship. Now you are feeling the emptiness of not having them in your life anymore. Can you go back to being just friends?
Who Dumped Who and Why?
A big factor in whether you can go back to being friends with this person is how the relationship ended. If one of you cheated on the other then it may be harder to get over. If you did the dumping then it may seem easy to you to just go back to being best pals but to the wounded, it's not so easy. They have to grieve the end of this form of the relationship as do you. It may feel like they failed in some way and feel awkward around you for awhile. They may be in love with you and being around you is too hard, or they may resent you for ending the relationship for awhile. It depends on the individual situation. If you are the one who was dumped then it's up to you how long it will take to be able to see them as your friend again.
Running Into Each Other
Are you still in social situations where you will be running into each other frequently? If so it may push the process forward quicker rather than one having to contact the other to talk. If you are in the same class or have the same job then you will be forced to interact and it may get the awkwardness out of the way much quicker. If you don't have any other ties to each other but each other then you will have to make the contact if they are not.
When to Contact Them
If you broke up with them then check in after a few days with just a quick “how you doin” message. This will open up communication that shows that you do care. After that wait a few days and see if they talk to you. It will most likely be very small awkward conversations about the weather for about a month then you can try to see if they want to hang out “like you used to” you want to add that in so they know this isn't a romantic visit. Being clear without being rude is a must. You don't have to use the “friends” word, telling them you want to hang out like you used to should get the message clearly across. If they broke up with you, and you decide to make the initial contact to hang out then you have made a big step in restoring the friendship. You can even let them know that you miss being friends and want to go back to being how you were. This will relieve them as it's likely that they have been feeling terrible about hurting your feelings. Being the one to initiate contact in this case will make transitioning back to best buds much easier.
It can be hard to cross back over that bridge once you have dated but it's not impossible. A true friendship will recognize that old familiar feeling quickly enough, or it may have been a friendship that was always going to lead to romance and so it may not have been as much about friendship as you had thought. Either way if you want the friendship back then you will need to make the moves to make it happen