Should You Stay Friends With An Ex? How Do You Make It Work?

Traverse through the nuances of emotions and expectations to be on the same page.

Reviewed by Amanda Bennallack, Relationship Coach Amanda Bennallack Amanda BennallackRelationship Coach facebook_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature), Certified Relationship Coach Shivani Chandel MA (English Literature), Certified Relationship Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 4 years
Edited by , BSc Shatabdi Bhattacharya BSc linkedin_icon Experience: 2.5 years
Fact-checked by , Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Sneha Tete Integrated MA, Certified Relationship Coach Experience: 4 years

Being friends with your ex is controversial when talking about dating dos and don’ts. Let’s face facts: can you stay friends with your ex? Some say that your bond arose from a pure, innocent place and that you still share a platonic love. Many claim it is a myth and argue that such a relationship could be a barrier to finding another person.

When you have shared everything with your ex, it can be difficult to grow apart as they meet someone else or get used to a new space between you. It is not easy to take a stand on such an opinionated issue. Exes cannot always be friends. We examine when and how exes can become friends in this article. We will also tell you when they shouldn’t!

Tesia Blake, a blogger, penned down her heartfelt emotions on retaining her friendship with her ex. She admits to missing the conversations and texting and needed him to discuss her life. She wrote, “In any case, I stand by everything I said: remaining friends with an ex isn’t necessarily a sign of maturity, but more likely a sign that you lack the ability to set healthy boundaries (i).”

Can You Be Friends With An Ex?

Staying friends with an ex is a bit more complicated than it seems. Ask yourself the following questions when deciding if you should stay friends with your ex.

1. Why Did You Break Up?

Being friends with your ex may sound like the mature thing to do, but it really depends on the circumstances of your breakup. If you and your ex had an ugly breakup, being friends with them may not really be an option.

An amicable breakup may allow you and your ex to remain friends. If you both broke up simply because your lives were going in different directions and if you have mutual respect for each other, it can blossom into a supportive friendship. But, beware – it’s a thin line between being friends and falling back into a relationship that you know won’t work out.

If your partner hurt you in some way or was unfaithful to you, it’s best not to pursue a friendship with them.

2. Why Do You Want To Be Their Friend?

Why do you want to be friends with your ex? Is it because you’re afraid of losing them in your life? Or is it because you’re hoping to reignite the relationship? It’s important to know exactly why you want your ex to remain in your life as a friend.

If it’s a ploy to keep them around so you get another chance with them, it most probably will not work – unless you’ve both worked on the issues that led to your breakup. Also, both you and your ex will have to be on the same page about getting back together.

If you’re afraid of losing your ex from your life, you need to ask yourself why. The relationship has already ended. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work out. You need to allow yourself and your ex to move on.

3. Will It Affect Other People?

Sometimes, people stay friends with their ex because they are both part of the same friend circle. You don’t want your friends to have to pick sides, so you and your ex remain friends. This can be difficult because you will know when your ex starts dating again. And sometimes, there will be arguments between the two of you, and your friends may get caught in the crossfire. If you choose to remain friends, then the maturity and acceptance that your ex will have other partners is the journey of this relationship.

4. Do You Have Kids?

If you have kids with your ex, you absolutely need to be cordial with each other. You don’t have to be friends, but you will have to be on talking terms with each other. Co-parenting can be difficult and requires tons of communication between you two to make it work. You will need to discuss parental responsibilities and your child’s issues with your ex without bringing up past arguments.

5. Does Your Ex Want To Stay Friends With You?

So your ex pulled the “let’s remain friends” card and now you are stuck seeing them at outings with your mutual friends. Remember that just because your ex wants to stay friends with you does not mean you are obligated to indulge their request. If you don’t feel the need to stay friends with your ex, just be honest. It will serve you both well!

6. Were You Both Friends Before Dating?

Maybe you and your ex started out as friends. It was so good that you just slipped into a relationship. Sure, the friendship you and your ex had may have been amazing, but consider the baggage that comes with a breakup. In this case, trying to remain friends with your ex may just be an attempt to turn back time and go back to a past that does not exist anymore.

If you have decided to stay friends with your ex after considering all these factors, keep scrolling to find out the best way to go about it.

How To Be Friends With An Ex

Staying friends is not as easy as it seems. It’s best to set some ground rules to ensure you don’t slip back into old patterns of behavior and to protect yourself from getting hurt again.

In a survey of 1,000 adults in the United States about how they handle friendships with ex-romantic partners, the findings revealed that 17% of those are friends with all their exes, 37% are friends with some, and 44% are not friends with any. The survey also showed that 49% of women and 38% of men do not maintain friendships with their ex-partners.

Some of these are listed below, but you can add more depending on your situation.

  1. Hang Out In A Group: One of the best ways to remain friends with your ex is to hang out with them along with your mutual friends. The more, the merrier! This will help you avoid any difficult one-on-one moments with your ex.
  2. Don’t Bring Up The Past: If you want to stay friends with your ex, you will have to let go of the past. You can’t expect to remain, friends, when you cannot let go of all the mistakes made in the relationship. If you both ever get in a disagreement or argument, don’t dredge up things from when you both were in a relationship.
  3. Don’t Be Overly Friendly: It’s one thing to be friendly, and it’s another to force yourself into your ex’s life. As much as you are their friend, you are also their ex. So, there may be things your ex won’t be comfortable talking about with you. So, know when to take a step back and give them some privacy.
  4. Keep Your Emotions Under Control: When you’re friends with an ex, it can be difficult to watch them move on and date other people. This can lead to jealousy and arguments. If you really want to remain friends with your ex, you need to keep your emotions in check. You need to let go of your ex completely and let them find their own happiness.
protip_icon Pro Tip
Being friends with your ex does not mean that it will be smooth sailing from then on. If you get along with them, practice a certain level of detachment so as not to feel hurt again.
  1. Respect Their Privacy: It’s alright to keep some things about your life private from your ex, even if you both are still friends. You may have shared everything with each other when you both were in a relationship. But, now it’s wiser to keep some things to yourself. Extend the same courtesy to your ex as well.

Now that you know how to stay friends with your ex, let’s check out some things that you need to avoid doing.

What To Avoid When You’re Friends With An Ex

  1. Watching your ex move on can be difficult. You may be their friend, but it’s not your job to pass judgment on who they date. To an extent, you may never like anyone your ex dates, so you may not be the best judge in this situation.
  2. Don’t try to become their best friend. Being best friends involves telling each other your deepest, darkest secrets, calling each other at 4 a.m., and knowing basically everything about each other. It sounds an awful lot like a relationship (minus the benefits). So, trying to be best friends with your ex is just asking for trouble.
  3. Don’t try to play matchmaker with an ex. In a bid to show that you’ve moved on or that you are comfortable being friends with your ex, don’t try to set them up with someone. If it goes well, you may end up feeling jealous and insecure. If it ends badly, your ex may blame you for setting them up for awkwardness or heartache. Therefore, it’s better to avoid playing matchmaker altogether.

Despite your best intentions, there may come a point when you realize it’s better to cut the cord with an ex. Learn all about when you should stop being friends with an ex in the next section.

When Should You Cut Ties With An Ex?

  1. If You Were In An Abusive Relationship: If you were verbally, emotionally, mentally, or physically abused by an ex, it’s best not to pursue friendship after the breakup. Cut the cord and walk away. If your ex belittled your opinions, did not take you seriously, or played mind games with you, don’t stay friends with them.
  2. If You Still Have Feelings For Them But They Don’t: If you still have feelings for your ex, it can be difficult to watch them move on from you. It’s best not to get on that boat. It is much healthier for you to walk away than to put yourself through that pain.
  3. If Sex Is Your Thing, But Compatibility Isn’t: Some people have great sex but are extremely incompatible with each other. If this is one of the reasons you and your ex broke up, being friends with them may blur some boundaries. Some people continue being friends with benefits with their ex, but this may not be a great idea in the long run.
protip_icon Pro Tip
Do not hang on to the need for closure when trying to move on. A toxic ex may avoid closure, or purposefully withhold hard conversations just to string you along.

The only situation where being friends with an ex is comfortable and trouble-free is if you have had an amicable breakup. After reconsidering your love, you can enjoy a regular friendship if you both agree that yours is a platonic one and not romantic. In this scenario, you and your ex are emotionally mature individuals who know how to respect your boundaries and personal space and handle the breakup well. In other cases, staying in touch with your ex may not be a good call. There is a possibility that either you or they might have unresolved issues and emotions about how things panned out and may not be able to form a pure friendship. Letting go and knowing that certain things are not meant to last forever will help you work through this past relationship better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can being friends with an ex lead to a relationship?

Not necessarily. While it is possible that being friends with an ex may lead to a relationship, there is also a possibility that ex-partners may become platonic friends. It is important for both ex partners to talk about their expectations before they decide to go into the next phase of their relationship.

When should you become friends with your ex?

While the amount of time may vary from person to person, you should ideally wait six months before you think about becoming friends with your ex.

Key Takeaways

  • It is important to understand the reason for wanting to be friends with an ex and whether both of you are on the same page regarding this.
  • If you had an amicable breakup and have mutual respect for each other, you and your ex may be able to remain friends.
  • It is best to have a thorough conversation and set some ground rules to ensure you don’t slip back into old patterns of behavior or overstep the boundaries of friendship.

The decision to stay friends with your ex depends on various factors. The following video explores the possible ways to make it work with your ex if you do not want to cut off all the ties. Check it out.

Personal Experience: Source

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Amanda Bennallack

Amanda BennallackRelationship Coach

Amanda is a relationship coach with more than a decade of experience and a deep understanding of interpersonal dynamics and communication. After studying life coaching at The International Coaching Institute, she expanded her education by studying Emotional Intimacy and Emotionally Focused Therapy. Amanda is also a skilled Extended DISC Behavioural Profiler dedicated to enriching connections between people. She guides full bio

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