Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Can former flames become fast friends?

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I had an intimate relationship with a wonderful man for more than three years.

We met when I hired his company to do a project for me. We developed not only a great personal relationship, but a wonderful working relationship, as well. We have worked successfully together on multiple projects.

He was formally separated from his wife when we met. They recently decided to reconcile for the sake of their (teenage) children. He told me he still wants to be platonic friends and that he "will always be there" for me. I know he is sincere, and he continues to text me occasionally.

Naturally, I was heartbroken. I am working hard to get over my feelings for him by staying busy. However, when he texts me, it reopens the wound. In addition, we have a new project starting and working together will be challenging. I am trying to work solely with his partner, but will eventually need to work directly with him, something I always looked forward to until now.

I would like to be able to work with him, and don't want to lose the great friendship we had, but I really don't know how to be platonic friends after an intimate relationship. Is it even possible to maintain a friendship and working relationship after being intimately involved with someone? If so, how?

-- Past Flame/Working Friend

Dear Past Flame: It is possible to have a working relationship after an intimate relationship, but only if you maintain strict boundaries and adhere to some commonsense guidelines. This will be very challenging at first, because you two are essentially reframing and narrowing the scope of a relationship.

You need to keep a disciplined attitude toward this person. Ask him not to text you. Communicate primarily with his partner. Don't spend time alone with him. Basically, you are going to have to turn the page.

Be aware that you have more of an incentive to change than he does, because this likely hurts you more than it hurts him.

You should continue to keep yourself busy socially and professionally.

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