Can You Be Friends With An Ex?

Can you be friends with an ex? The first answer that comes to mind for most of us is ‘NO.’ But then of course come the ‘unless this…’ and the ‘unless that’s…’ and slowly, the answer becomes unknown.

We asked our readers this question on Twitter and got the following responses:

@IAmKatieHoffman: Yes, I think you can with time and depending on the reason of the break up and the maturity of the relationship.

@GabieKur: Yes, but it is very difficult. A lot of times you need to take a communication hiatus first to let the wounds heal.

@rachelmaleady: if you said the 3 magic words, then no

@enthusiasticrun: depends how long you dated and if you were friends before…. But generally, no.

@rosiemesa: Absolutely. Depending on how the relationship ended.

@canadianpreppy: Simon Cowell seems to think so!

Basically, the majority of our readers think you can be friends with an ex… depending on certain factors. But… is that just what we want to think?

To me, a breakup is barely ever mutual. At one point both of you had feelings for one another. And at another point one of you felt more feelings than the other… and BOOM – relationship over. If you are the person who didn’t feel the same romantic feelings anymore for your (now) ex, then you probably either don’t see the problem of staying friends with this person because you don’t see them in a romantic way anymore… OR you have no interest in talking to this person ever again because 1. they cheated, 2. you cheated… or met someone else, or 3. you have absolutely no interest in their life anymore. But if you were the one who got broken up with, staying friends is not that easy.

After you are broken up with, you most likely will still have feelings for the dump-ee. You didn’t want the breakup to happen. You didn’t ask for it. And since staying friends is the closest thing you have to being together, of course you want to THINK you can remain friends with your ex… but guess what? You’re never going to get over this person unless you cut them out of your life (especially if you continuously annoy them to death when they actually had no interest in remaining friends with you in the first place…).

Even if you break off all means of communication with your ex to give yourself time to get over it, this doesn’t mean you’ll be friends in the future. Sure, you can keep telling yourself ‘maybe we’ll be friends later in life‘ but chances are you won’t … Once you’re over your ex (bad breakup or not) you just won’t care enough to keep them in your life anymore. It’s like losing touch with a friend. After months or years of no communication, even though you sometimes wonder what they’re up to and you sometimes think about asking them to go out for a drink, you forget about it because you’re busy. You have other people to see and other things to take care of.

And if you’re in a relationship right now, of course you want to think ‘If I ever broke up with ___ we would totally still be friends! I just couldn’t imagine not having ___ in my life!‘ Uhh, yeah. We all want to think that. I mean, how can we picture the person we currently love not being in our lives at a certain point? We can’t.

Now, some exes do end up being friends. And as Rachel tweeted, this is most likely because the pair was never in love in the first place. Sure, maybe the couple loved one another. But if they are able to talk to each other on a regular basis, meet up for lunch, and talk to their new gfs/bfs/fiances/spouses without feeling any ounce of jealousy… the pair was most likely never in love. And believe me – there is a big difference than loving someone and being in love with someone.

You can say the whole ‘if you were friends before, maybe you can be friends again‘ but this often just makes it worse. You can never go back to the way things were because you added intimate sex, the meeting of parents, and cuddling. And if you had mutual friends, good luck – they will all feel and mourn your breakup too.

So maybe one day… one glorious day far, far away from now… you will become friends with your ex. But chances are one of you will eventually end up wanting more (whether it’s a serious relationship or a one night stand)… or one of your significant others will start to get jealous. Real effing jealous. Basically, even if you two never really ‘loved’ each other – or even if those feelings are gone for good – you don’t just stop finding someone attractive… and I’m sure at some point you found your ex attractive. So even if you would never want to date that person again, you occasionally might feel the urge to touch their rock hard abs or kiss them just because. And what’s the point of being friends with someone when you secretly want to hop in bed with them every couple times you see them (especially when drunk)?

Lesson learned: You can’t really be friends with an ex. You can maybe be friendly with an ex. Acquaintances with an ex. Cordial with an ex (especially if you have kids together – #olderpeopleproblems). But you’re most likely never going to be pouring your deepest darkest secrets to this guy or girl you used to cry in front of and have crazy, passionate sex with. It’s just not going to happen. And if it does, the chance of having a successful friendship is slim, unless you two never really got that intimate or you have no jealousy and/or romantic bone(s) in your body. So good luck my friends… and if you have ever been able to be friends with an ex (like real friends – not just acquaintances) – bravo to you (but I doubt you were really ever in love).

So what do YOU think after reading this. Can you really be friends with an ex?

Samantha Matt

Hi I’m Sam. I made this website in 2011 and it’s still going. My first book, AVERAGE IS THE NEW AWESOME, is coming out in January (you can buy it right now on Amazon or from your fave bookstore!). I like pizza, French fries, barre, spin, more pizza, more French fries, and buying clothes. Writing is fun. Follow me on twitter & Instagram at @samanthamatt1... and on this site's meme account on IG at @20somethingproblems. OKAY GREAT THANKS BYE.

6 Comments
  1. Yes you can, I bumped into a ex over 10 years ago, my feelings came back stronger, and he felt the same way but sadly 6 months later he commited suicide due to other reasons in his life. 10 years later I still love and miss him terribly

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