Staying Friends With An Ex – Everything You Should Know

Written by Harini Natarajan

It’s time to answer the age-old question – can you stay friends with your ex? You may say Ross and Rachel did it, so how hard can it be? But, even they had issues. They were constantly jealous when the other dated anyone else. Ross kissed Rachel when he was with Julie. Rachel was willing to ruin Ross’ wedding. And, they were always in love with each other. Let’s not forget that one night that led to the birth of Emma!

So, it’s not as easy as it seems. There are some instances where exes can’t be friends. In this article, we break down when and how exes can be friends. Keep scrolling to also learn when they shouldn’t be!

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.

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. Coparenting can be difficult and require 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. 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 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.
  5. 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 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.

The only scenario in which you can reasonably stay friends with your ex is if you had an amicable breakup and you both are emotionally mature enough to handle the friendship. Otherwise, it is not always the best idea. And, it’s alright to acknowledge that. You need to come to terms with the idea that you and your ex have to move on and not be a part of each other’s lives. It can be difficult because you’ve spent time and shared memories with them. But, sometimes, letting go is the best thing you can do.

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As Chief Editor, Harini sets the tone and editorial direction for StyleCraze to deliver engaging, interesting, and authentic content revolving around women's health, wellness, and beauty. She has over 14 years of experience in content writing and editing for online media. She specializes in the areas of Beauty, Lifestyle, and Health & Wellness and is proficient in Medical Sciences (Biology, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Biochemistry). Her background in Biomedical Engineering helps her decode and interpret the finer nuances of scientific research for her team. Harini is a certified bibliophile and a closet poet. She also loves dancing and traveling to offbeat destinations.