Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?

You parted ways amicably. Your partner broke it off, but claims he still loves you and wants to stay friends.

You don’t see why that couldn’t work – after all, this is the person who knows you best.

You were always there for each other, you were already friends while you were a couple. Such a deep bond can’t just disappear – so why wouldn’t it work now?

It is possible, but not very likely, that you’ll be able to be friends straight after the breakup. It’s actually very rare, and not just because most people don’t split up on good terms.

You don’t really want him as a friend.

If he is the one who broke up, you are probably still in love with him. You won’t be happy if you’re getting “just” friendship.

It sounds like a great idea at first: at least he’ll still be a part of your life. But you soon realize it is like being starved, then brought to a feast at which you can only eat crumbs that fall from other people’s plates.

You will constantly feel the desire to hold or kiss him, while he keeps a distance and treats you like – well, just a friend.

You are hoping he will change his mind.

You think if you stick around your ex will somehow see what he is missing and change his mind. Wrong. He might be thankful for your support and affection, but that won’t make him fall for you again.

Instead, he’ll start taking you and your love for granted. You will find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster, weighing every word he says, hoping to read between the lines that “I still have feelings for you” means he wants to get back together.

While you linger he will be dating other people.

He knows you want him back, and if he felt the same he would have come back to you. When he says things like “I need time” or “I am not ready” that is just a polite excuse. Don’t hold onto it.

While you’re trying to keep your real feelings at bay, he is signing up on dating sites. Sooner or later you will see a post or a message that will break your heart again. And again.

Sticking around actually lowers your chances of getting him back.

When you’re around and available, you’re giving him zero incentive to look back and wonder if he did actually make a mistake by leaving you.

But if you break off all contact – that’s when he’ll begin to wonder whether you might be moving on too. He will be able to see what he’s missing and start feeling the loss. He can’t do that if you’re still around trying hard to remind him of all the good times you had together.

Can you become friends, eventually?

Absolutely, but only once the romantic feelings are gone. Chances are - when that happens - you probably won’t desire each other’s friendship any more. But it is definitely possible and works well for some people.

However, do not live your life with that goal in mind – that means you are still holding onto hope and not moving on. Maybe you’ll be friends someday, but who knows? Today is what counts, and today you are exes.

If you’re the one who broke up and want to stay friends.

Again, be careful if your ex is still in love with you. You might crave his support and attention, but – you are the one who broke up, so stick to your decision and don’t keep him around just because you are suddenly lonely. Even if you don’t want to, you will hurt him - simply because you don’t love him the same way anymore.

Unless you can truly be friends, nothing more, nothing less – a clean break is the best for both of you. Maybe it will hurt more at the start, but it will give you both best chances to rebound quicker, so you can be happy again - with someone new.

6/11/2024 4:00:00 AM
Petra Kreatschman
Petra Kreatschman is a love and relationship coach, guide and mentor. She connects with men and women from all over the world sharing her love tips through her popular blog, online courses and individual coaching. She is happily married today, but has been on that bumpy road to love and knows very well...
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Posted by Ben Adams
No freakin' way. She messed around enough on me and said she didn't and I would believe her. Then all of a sudden, she decides that she wants her freedom to do what she wants and gets well more than half and I get to pay the rest of my life for 15 years of pure hell. Sorry, no way would I consider being friends with the beoch.
Posted by Tom
My marriage was a total nightmare...Once we split I was DONE. He never changed for the better...I was so glad to be free of him and all traces of him in my life....He abandoned his son.
Posted by Gladys
Could you please go more into depth if you are the one who broke up with him but still want a friendship please?
Posted by Brittany
Wow, Thank you for this article Petra. The flow of this article explains everything and leaves us with no doubts. Such phase and feelings make us grow in life and help us become a better role-models for ourselves.
Posted by Kevin
I'm still friends with my ex. There is no wanting to go back. I care about the well being and care about my ex just not in that way. Im happy where I'm at. Some people are in the friendship for different reasons. I know I'm in it simply for friendship.
Posted by wish
I'm still friends with my ex after being married for 15 years and friends for 22 years. It's not for everyone. We were better friends then husband and wife. Took a long time to figure that out. Not going to go back and relive the past again
Posted by John
I'm sure, especially after reading the other comments that I and my ex must be exceptions to the rule. There was infidelity on her part. I wanted to work it out, we stayed living in the same house but in separate rooms for at least 9 months before I finally convinced her to make up her mind so that I could go on with my life one way or another. We divorced but have remained excellent friends. It probably helps that we live on separate coasts and that there are no children involved but friends - and good ones at that - we remain.
Posted by Tony Enriquez
When my ex filed for divorce, I was over her in three days. Turns out, she was sleeping with some scumbag about six years her junior who eventually got her hooked on heroin. After a year and a half in the womens' correctional facility, she was never able to reclaim a responsible lifestyle, and sadly, passed away at the age of 50.
Posted by Mike
Absolutely not; I did not divorce him before putting years into trying to make it work, do everything as he wished it to be done, and divorce was not what I believed was the answer. Until he could no longer hide the 'real person' under the veneer, kidnapped the children and hid them from me, tried (unsuccessfully BTW) to destroy my reputation as both wife and mother. Two decades of living with a destructive narcissist was far longer than I should have invested; I did not do myself or my children any favors by refusing to give up, living in hope for the future. I have no valid reason for continuing to have any sort of relationship with him, and the 'lucky' woman who got him (during and) after me could tell you very much the same story. Nowdays I select my friends far more carefully than that, thanks.
Posted by OldeGreyWulf

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