There's too much history, too much sensitivity.
Once you have fallen in love with someone, there's a deep caring within you for that other person that will always exist, no matter how the relationship ends. Sometimes we may not want to admit it but there will often remain a flicker of that love inside.
The phrase "just friends" implies you're able to be friendly with an ex without there being either sexual attraction and desire or conflict and discomfort.
And you're never going to be "just friends" with somebody you had a love relationship with but you can have a new relationship without a need for it to conflict with you falling in love with someone else.
A lot depends on how a relationship ends. If a guy broke your heart and walked away from you saying he never wanted to see you again, well, yeah... it's definitely going to be hard to be any kind of friend with that person.
In a relationship where trust has been broken, you may need to simply walk away and accept he'll never be a part of your life again — at all.
It's important to give yourself time to grieve over the relationship if you were in love. You need to allow time to examine and reflect on what was good in the relationship so you can move on and heal yourself from the negative aspects of it.
Through that process, you can find health and wholeness for yourself and forgiveness for him and any negativity that happened in the relationship. It doesn't mean you welcome that person back into your life but you're able to walk away, comfortable and whole.
What about a relationship that doesn't work out because there's something incompatible about your pairing long-term? Maybe there's too big of an age difference or maybe one of you wants to be married and the other doesn't. There are many reasons why a strong love relationship can end in an overall positive way.
There will probably be a period after a break up where you need time and space away from each other, where you can't be friends at all. The draw of the love that still exists will hopefully draw you back together as special friends.
Of course, the danger is that if the love remains very strong, you may want to ignore the bigger issues that you broke up over to just fall back into love again, which you remember so fondly.
You'll never be able to be "just friends" because there will be too much history there. You must take a break and give your strong daily bond some time to weaken. Hopefully, once you begin seeing other again in a different context, you can both explore a new, modified type of friendship where you can still enjoy time spent together.
It will take a certain kind of new man in your life who will be able to accept you having an ex still in your life.
For example, one of my husband's exes was in our wedding, but it took some work on my part to be OK with the idea.
I remember the evening I accepted there was a special friendship between my husband and his ex. It was early on in our dating relationship; we were supposed to go out one night and my boyfriend asked if it was OK for him to cancel to go see his ex who needed help.
I knew she still held space in his heart but I also knew that he was in love with me now. Being honest, I said I did feel jealous, but I understood. We had a deep trust established already.
I knew this woman was special to him, that she was more than "just a friend," but I knew it didn't mean it was going to take anything away from our relationship. And it never did, and my life was made better by having her in it.
A harder type of relationship to maintain after a breakup is one where you still have a strong sexual attraction. But if your situations permit it, and you both feel that it can work, you may possibly be able to make a "friends with benefits" situation work. (It probably won't, though.) Many young people have gone through a phase in their lives where those kinds of relationships work.
Obviously, there's a bigger chance for being hurt or for either one of you to find it hard to disconnect from the couple you used to be.
When I think back on all my exes, on all the men that I fell in love with — whether it was for a night, a month, or a year — I'm not "just friends" with any of them. Some I have no contact with and will probably never see or hear from ever again, and that's fine — honestly it's probably better that way. Some I have passing connections with, depending on our closeness and the level and length of relationship.
There are others whom, unfortunately, I will probably never speak to again and that makes me sad. But I know if they were ever to come back into my life again, we would never be able to be "just friends." There's too much history, too much sensitivity.
But I hold all my past relationships in my heart in a special place within my heart. I'm thankful for all the experiences and love that I had with them and I'm grateful to have the ability to not regret any past loves. And I don't have to deny to my husband that I loved other people before him and that there is some part of those ex-loves that lives on in me.
After all, I wouldn't be the woman I am today without having gone through all the relationship experiences I've weathered throughout my years, and the same goes for my husband and his past loves.
Embrace the past and move into the future... together.