stay friends with ex

How familiar are you with the following scenario: You’re in a semi long-term committed relationship with someone… and then you break up. If you’re the one ending the relationship, you might feel guilty. On the other hand, if you’re the one being broken-up with, you feel caught off guard, maybe slighted, and possibly hurt and betrayed. And to lighten the blow, you or you’re newfound ex states that they want to be friends. END SCENE.

So you’re down one romantic, sexual relationship. But hey! You gained a friend! A friend that you’ve shared a certain kind of intimacy with, who you’ve seen naked, who told you things they never told anyone else before, who you took on romantic dates, for whom you bought gifts and presents that represented a bond more special than your other relationships… starting to sound messy, right?

Accomplishing the mental and emotional switch from romantic partner to platonic friend can be complicated at best, and problematic at worst. Humans are creatures of habit. And breaking a habit, whether it be mental, physical, or emotional (in this case all three) requires a lot of energy, focus, and dedication. So at the end of the day, will all this effort even be worth it if your ex wants to be friends?

Why does my ex want to be friends?

We must first examine intentions behind exs wanting to be friends post-break up, and these can run the gamut. Maybe the person being broken up with isn’t ready to completely let go and thinks the only way a rekindling is possible is if they stay in the picture, even if it’s in the peripheries. Maybe the heartbreaker in this scenario has no intention of following through with their offer of friendship and is only trying to prevent being witness to tears of heartache. Maybe one or the other isn’t ready to fully commit to a monogamous, two-person relationship and just wants the ex to be readily available when he or she is ready to settle down.

Who knows? It all comes down to how honest and open a person wants to be with their needs and wants.

Whatever the reason, the intention – whether it be morally honest, or morally dubious – will be the most important factor in determining whether being friends with your ex is a good or a bad idea. Other factors come into play as well. For example, a study once found that women take it hardest at the beginning but have an easier time getting over guys in the long term, while the reverse is true for men as they experience less hurt at the onset of a break up, but never fully recover from it.

So, men! Don’t be surprised if you find yourself having stronger feelings for her than she does for you after you’re well down the path of friendship. If you happen to find yourself in a situation like this, it may make you think twice about continuing a friendship with your ex. But, again, this is only one example.

My ex wants to be friends: Pros & Cons

So let’s do the math. What’s are the up and down-sides to be friends with your ex? I like to cover the cons first to get the negative out of the way.

Cons when my ex wants to stay friends

  • Without a certain required level of maturity, continuous contact and interaction with your ex may not allow you to move on healthily from them and the relationship
  • Future significant others may not be comfortable with this friendship and doubt whether either of you is truly over the other – especially if the friendship is successful
  • The adjustment period may be difficult and painful as both parties come to terms with the new realities of this arrangement
  • You may not know if you are truly over your ex until they start dating someone else – which would be totally in their right since you are “just friends”. This might blindside you with feelings

Pros when your ex wants to be friends

  • Emotional growth and resiliency. If you can healthily and successfully accomplish this, it will validate your maturity and ability to have perspective on a complicated matter
  • You’ll have a friend with whom you are exceptionally close with and can vouch for you with other potential mates.
  • If you see yourself being romantically involved again with your “friend” in the future, keeping them close will help you insure this happens, and probably bring you closer on a deeper level
  • Side-stepping negative sentiments and feelings from an ended relationship. You can’t be friends with someone you dislike or feel unkindly towards. A decision to move forward as friends shows that there are genuinely no hard-feelings or animus between the two of you

The above are just some quick, general, off-the-cuff points to consider when making your list of pros and cons. Some of the above may apply to you. Some may not. And there also might be some points that are more specific to your unique situation.

The above are just some quick, general, off-the-cuff points to consider when making your list of pros and cons. Some of the above may apply to you. Some may not. And there also might be some points that are more specific to your unique situation.

My Ex Wants to Stay Friends: How can we do this healthily?

All this is easier said than done, of course. It might not be as easy as one would think for you to look this person with whom you shared all this intimacy in the eyes and pull the “Let’s-be-friends” trigger. For some, this could work in theory, but not in practice. However, it is not impossible! So here are a few do’s and don’ts.

  • Do not get involved in each other’s new romantic relationships. If you do talk about it, say only positive things and do not ask each other for or give each other advice if either one of you is experiencing a problem in your relationship because it would be based off your mutual romantic history
  • Keep your jealousy in check… if it does surface.
  • Make sure you two are perfectly clear and on the same page about how you feel towards one another. Honesty doesn’t change because you’re now friends instead of lovers
  • Do not compare yourself to your ex’s new significant other
  • Do not bring up your past romantic relationship unless used as an example to illustrate an unrelated point
  • Do not assume you are more important than anyone else in your ex’s life simply because you two shared a romantic history
  • Do not treat your ex any more special than you treat your best friends

My Ex Wants to Be Friends, But I Want More!

Being friends with your ex is not for everyone. You need a certain amount of audacity and bravery to consider and attempt such an arrangement. One may not be able to achieve this type of relationship with an ex-lover because it is too painful, or may not have the necessary temperament, et cetera. Whatever it may be, the truth is that if you want your ex back, fulfilling that positive role in her life – for which there is no better term than “friend” – is your best option towards reuniting as lovers.

Be honest with your ex. Let them know how you truly feel. I’m not saying to lay it on thick. Just make him or her aware. No one likes to be blindsided or caught by surprise. However, you have to respect their feelings and wishes too, and vice versa, if there is no reciprocation. You also have to respect yourself and your dignity. Don’t grovel. Don’t act on impulse. Don’t be immature. Don’t be petty. Be better. Be your best self. Be a good friend. Be fun. Be entertaining. Be trustworthy. Be dependable. And be an even better and brighter possibility for him or her.

There’s a reason why all  the best romantic relationships started off as friends. Keep that in mind.

Your Coach


Alexandre Cormont

The author Alexandre Cormont

Leave a Response