Expert Exes (and some Dumb Dummies who Really Wiffed it)
So, look. I've been out with a lot of dudes in this life. Most of them are decent humans who it just didn't work out with; and, after a respectable waiting period, I quite like being friends with my exes. Just because I cannot bear to suffer your prodigious snoring RIGHT IN MY EAR GODDAMMIT, JUST ROLL OVER, WHY doesn't mean I never want to enjoy your dorky sense of humor again, or loose your encyclopedic history/sports/star wars brain from my trivia team.
To really make the friends with your ex thing work though, you have to respect some unwritten rules that most people intuitively understand. But also some people are dummies, so let's get into writing out the unwritten.
While rebuilding your platonic relationship, simply adopt the Ken Doll rule: utterly ignore the fact that you are anatomically correct and act as if your entire genital region were a joint of smooth plastic. Put another way: do not say dick about the goings on in and around your bathing suit area. I don't even want to hear that you've been out on dates with other people. I know you're doing that. So am I, homey! And after a minimum trial period of several to 6 months, we can totally try to start talking about our dating adventures, especially if they are epically awful or otherwise amusing. I mean, what're friends for!
Until then, however, when I ask you what's new in your life, please just tell me some shit about where you are traveling or how weird your coworkers are being, or even how you just got a new cream for this gnarly growth that showed up on your toe, and then stop talking all together. In exchange, I promise not to mention the incredible yum yum sounds this new dude makes when he's eating pussy. Fair trade!
Once you've seen each other's O faces, there are some things you probably shouldn't do any more: invite them to your wedding, actually attend said wedding, other stuff, probably, but the only other example I could come up with is this one:
Say for example you have a 4-6 month dalliance with a person who remains emotionally aloof from you because he's been divorced and recently broke off a 7 year relationship, or maybe he just didn't like you that much, idk. Say said person then moves to San Francisco. Later, because you are Facebook friends, he sees photos of you and your BFF visiting as part of a trip to Napa. Say he then texts you, invites you out, and then you bone like one more time. Something like a year later he'll get remarried, then a year after that finally run for office like you always knew he would.
You won't really bat an eye when you start to receive campaign emails from him, as you think he'll probably make a great representative, and suspect he'll eventually run for Senate or some shit and make his way back out to DC, which could be fun.
But you will be FULLY squicked out when SF Eggplant calls you, actually calls you, with his own actual human voice, and does not sic a robot on you like you were expecting, because he is doing a Fundraiser. And you will hear a voice that, when last you heard it was requesting you perform the most deliciously filthy tasks, now breezily record on your voicemail "Hi Peach, long time! Hope you're doing well, [lots of campaign bs] [and also can I have some of your moneys please]"
I mean, look, I get you're trying to make it happen any means necessary, and if I actually lived in your district, I'd definitely vote for you and all, but I don't even live in California man, what the hell? You leveraging our sexual connection to get money out of me is just....yick. Good luck at the polls still though!
You made me meet all of your friends and I am still curious what is going on in their lives. You came with me to that housewarming that one time and now you know what all my friends are like. I know the way your brother annoys you. You know the way my mom stresses me out. It is not weird to have all this extra intimacy hard wired into a friendship; it is wonderful.
How nice not to have to explain so much backstory before launching into a story of familial woes! How rare to have someone who truly cares for you, also be able to tell you straight that you are being a lunatic (when applicable), free from fear she will loose access to the D if she upsets you! How delicious to be able to allude to the fact that you know exactly how easy it is to trip over that rug in his apartment, in the dark; or to offhandedly remark "I think we had sex in here once, didn't we?" when you enter a particular building for, you know. Non-sex reasons.
These smirking secrets and relational shorthand are your reward for making your way through all the emotional work it takes to re-calibrate your relationship and settle into friendship. Don't try to ignore them for fear you'll make it weird. That weirdness is a fucking gift. Lean into it!
Speaking of re-calibration: there are possibly some people who can immediately downshift from "fuck me" to "just friends", but I sure as shit can't and I'm willing to wager most people also cannot. Without a period of time to reboot your brain and your physical reactions to a person, you are totally fucked, and not in the nice way.
For example, say drunk you is a champion fool, and decides she is ready to be friends again with an ex she was deeply besotted with, even though it's only been like six weeks, and it's 1 am, (the perfect time to text an ex, according to drunk you) and so sends a most witty "Hey." to said ex. This obviously will result in him ending up in your bed again, goddammit. When you talk about this in the morning he will have the balls to request a friends with benefits arrangement from you, and you will not be stoked to hear this, because you don't just want to meet his sexual needs, you want to meet his mom. This virtuosic fuck up will set you back weeks in your healing process and your liver will be none too pleased about it either.
Your friends will force you to delete his number and you will forfeit any ability to actually build an actual friendship a year from now or some other time in the appropriate future, and that will make future you sad.