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Is there such a thing as co-friending?

The holidays can be tough on divorced or separated parents and their children. There are so many choices to make, and there is so much explaining to do. For many, the best part of the holidays is when they are over.

The parents may face another dilemma, though, a dilemma that divorced couples without children know well. How do you get through the holidays when you and your ex are part of the same social circle? The court does not sign off on a friending plan, and adapting the best interest factors to adult friendships seems impractical at best, a Seinfeld episode at worst.

If you find yourself invited to the same holiday gathering as your ex, you may find yourself wondering if you should bother to attend. The good news is that many, many people have gone through the same thing, and they have some advice for you.

Group activities are easier. Caroling and sledding are just two examples of activities that keep everyone occupied. They also leave little time for socializing and can be fun.

Step away from the past. You can try something new, finding something new to take the place of a tradition you and your ex shared. If you do continue with the old traditions, try to lower your expectations. It will be a different experience because you are on your own now.

Find someone to go with you. It may be unwise to skip an office party, or you may really want to go to a cherished holiday event. Take a friend or a sibling who can distract you (or your ex) if things get uncomfortable.

Finally, have an exit strategy. We all have our limits. If you know that you can only take an hour of being in the same room with your ex, make sure your friend or your phone reminds you.

Remember, too, that holiday events have a lot in common with home renovations: They will take twice as long as you think they will, and they may cost twice as much. The cost to your wallet is one thing; the cost to your mental health is another. Think ahead and review your plan with a counselor or a trusted friend.

Source: The Stir, "6 Tips on Surviving Holidays With Your Ex," Stephanie Bloom, Dec. 7, 2015

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