5 Skills That Shift Angry Ex-Lovers To Close, Loving Friends

Not every ex deserves your friendships, but sometimes it's worth the work of changing your mindset and priorities.

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The secret to your healthiest and most peaceful life is to make sure that you create and maintain peace in every relationship.

Each of the thought leaders and gurus with whom I’ve studied has focused on the same point — in order to enjoy peaceful lives ourselves we must make peace with others.  

Even when a challenging relationship ends, you will benefit from reframing your experience.

RELATED: 6 Conditions That Must Exist For You To Be Friends With Your Ex


Here are four things to keep in mind as you reframe a relationship

1. Get off the emotional roller coaster

If your previous partner was dangerous, make peace in your own mind so that you get off the roller coaster of emotions that will only extend your suffering. This allows you to move forward with wisdom and magnetism.  

2. Find solid emotional ground

If love was a “one-way street," when we feel the deepest emotions of love, we may feel as if we’re being ripped apart because of the vulnerability we allowed without a safe landing. The extent of loving connection we experienced, if we realize that we are the only ones who felt it, may seem as if the ground has shifted beneath our feet. There is a choice we must make for our own mental and physical well-being and that is to love, not hate.  


RELATED: How To Be Friends With Your Ex (If That's What You Really Want)

3. Admit love into your life

Perhaps loving and then losing a partner has catapulted you into grief and anger as it reactivates an old cycle of PTSD’s fight/flight/freeze which is a recipe for disaster. Living a joyous life requires that you feel the love that is possible only when you master self-soothing and return to your true Self.

If we succumb to raging and running away, we lose ourselves in the emotional tornado that sends us flying away from what is real until we are stuck in the prison of blaming our lover and ourselves.

4. Weigh the emotional cost 

Or perhaps we were the ones to disconnect. Were we so upset that we wanted to burn the bridge to prevent access in the future? If so, this also robs us of inner peace, so before you “punish” a partner, contemplate the cost to yourself.


Instead of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” when we investigate what brought us together and what has caused us to part, we realize in minutes the best options for ourselves.

RELATED: How To Survive A Breakup When You Have Mutual Friends

How to make the friend zone fabulous

In this process, you will need to learn to elevate your own consciousness and to self-soothe, which allows you to avoid anger and extreme grief no matter what your Ex may decide about shifting from lover to loving friend.

The future is unwritten, so any decision today may change tomorrow and if you desire friendship, you must master your inner state and project peace. This can allow an entirely different decision in the future if your ex can meet enough of your needs.


RELATED: What Friending Your Ex Says About Your Marriage

Here are five skills that will help you shift from angry ex-lovers to life-long friends

1. Stop projecting

The six-month rule tells us that six months to one year before the actual break-up you felt angry/scared/sad yourself and contemplated divorce or a breakup. Then, without conferring with your partner, your actions or lack of actions triggered the next step until one of you ended it.

When clients tell me that a spouse “suddenly left without warning” there is always a time six months to one year earlier when the partner who didn’t leave was having these negative, disconnecting thoughts without discussing possible solutions that would work for both of you. We must ask ourselves, “Who actually left?    

Solution  When you learn self-soothing, either with brain-breathing, self-empathy, or other tools you have the power to create your best life. However, if you stuff your negative emotions down without examining them they will creep up and color your words and actions until love disintegrates.


To create a lifelong friendship all you need to do is speak your truth in a peaceful, responsible manner, empathize with your former partner’s feelings and unmet needs, and look for ways to make amends for anything that you now realize was painful to them. In this way, one of my clients saved $11 million in his divorce! Many others have fabulous friendships that bring joy and support from former lovers, partners, and spouses.

2. Perform triage

Separate the partners worth saving from the ones who were your mistake. Were you conscious or unconscious as you entered a relationship? If he or she saw you as an opportunity was it mutual?  Certain behaviors may be deal-breakers for marriage or dating but as a friend, do you care how messy his home is or how often he helps with chores? No!

All the lifestyle choices that broke you up don’t matter anymore, and religion and politics may have been problematic when you thought of raising a family together but perhaps his brilliant mind, humor, and lifestyle have value to you. If “knowing and being known” have high values for you, then most of your exes may become desirable friends if they possess kindness and compassion.

Solution — Clarify your needs that were met and those that were not in each important relationship. If you find that about half of your needs were met by the relationship while the others weren’t that’s called “torn” and depending on your former lover’s behaviors you may keep or discard the relationship. However, what about the person who is almost exactly what you enjoy?


If someone is that close to your “Perfect Life Partner Checklist” then will shifting into the friend zone be valuable? Only you can decide this.  

The lovers you remember, the ones whose memories make you smile or laugh, or those who have taught you the most, usually make the cut. I learned about karma and reincarnation during my 57 trips to India, and it is said that the intensity of your feelings is not an accident but results from many lifetimes.

The idea that “families” of souls incarnate again and again as parents, lovers, children, and in other close-knit relationships may offer some understanding of the enormous magnetic pull you feel with only a few people.  

RELATED: 7 Types Of Friendship Every Woman Needs In Her Life


3. Practice forgiveness

Once a relationship ends, we forgive our partner for our own health benefit, avoiding misery and potential illness that often accompanies long-term vengeful thoughts. It is only by mastering our minds that we are powerful with the ability to focus, magnetize, and reach our goals.

Solution  When we observe and transform these stories with the four questions of inquiry, peace, and power, we begin to display the vibe that attracts our next partner and one who we desire — instead of more drama and disappointment.

Notice the story you tell such as “He doesn’t deserve me” or “She should have loved me.” Here are the questions that you ask so that you transform inner suffering into peace.  

  • Is that true; yes, no, or maybe?
  • What evidence do I have that this is true? Imagine that you are in court testifying before a judge providing only facts/figures/dollars or numbers rather than feelings or ideas.
  • How do you feel when you have that thought? Provide three words that describe your emotions such as scared, angry, sad, heartbroken, hopeless, etc.
  • How will you feel without that thought? Give three examples such as peaceful, hopeful, and calm.

The turnaround is the secret to managing your mind and there is always a more peaceful, powerful true story. Create a habit of thinking this way. There are countless turnarounds. Here are a few:


“He doesn’t deserve me” can become “He does deserve me” once you examine his behaviors or “I don’t deserve him” if we are honest with ourselves. For a lifelong learner, “When I learn to become calm before speaking, I create loving relationships with everyone”.

“She should have loved me more!” may turn around to “I should have loved her more!”

RELATED: 9 Crushing Signs You're On The Sad Side Of A One-Sided Friendship

4. Learn to motivate

Motivate your lover or former partner to become your friend. List the benefits to your partner by considering what brought you together in the first place. If there is more than sexual attraction, what are they and if “friend with benefits” is a goal for you, then include the great sex you enjoyed. Examining the benefits of reconnection will be the “way in” to friendship.


Solution — Various needs that keep exes together as friends may include mutual interests and activities such as:

  • Sports
  • Intellectual pursuits
  • Creative hobbies
  • Spiritual practices
  • Travel
  • Volunteering
  • Politics

Clarify this list because it is the first step to what may become a series of tests, emails, or conversations as you create a new foundation for friendship.

RELATED: The Best Friendships Always Have These 3 Characteristics


5. Make a peace offering

When you began a relationship, it was easy to bring your partner closer and closer because you each felt hopeful that there would be benefits to the connection. What are you offering now? What will be interesting enough for your ex to motivate a true friendship?

I have had many long-term relationships with exes and at my 50th birthday party, five of my former boyfriends attended. Here are a few benefits that various exes appreciate and you may find this is true for you as well.

  • One enjoyed relationship coaching from me after our time together.
  • Another participated in years of transformational workshops that provided a shared worldview.
  • A third appreciated my ability to love, encourage and support him no matter what he did or didn’t do.
  • A fourth appreciated that he could tell me anything without being judged.
  • A fifth enjoys staying connected while other dear friends have passed away.  

Solution  You must create inner peace before creating each message using the three-paragraph system:

  • In the first sentence, make it all about your ex. 
  • The second sentence is all about your own feelings and needs.
  • This is a call to action suggesting a phone call or meeting with a fun purpose for each of you.

If your ex jumps at the offer, you need to stay present with any mixed messages and clarify your offer, phrasing it as a three-paragraph message so that you understand one another. Since you are exes and no longer partners, you both realize that enough needs weren’t met by one another for a lifelong partnership. Yet, there is something real and valuable here.


Using these steps, you will do your best to protect the connection and build a friendship to enjoy the deep level of connection and understanding that is possible. Imagine your life, decades from now, enhanced by the richness of many diverse friendships with former lovers and partners, each one like a flower in a garden — different and beautiful in its own way.

RELATED: How To Avoid Forced Friendships And Let Things Develop Naturally

Susan Allan is a certified mediator and coach and the founder of the Marriage Forum Inc and creator of The 6 Part Conversation and The 7 Stages of Marriage and Divorce training to help people understand their own needs and their partners.