“I’d really like it if we could stay friends” — how many people out there have heard these words when breaking up with someone? It’s not exactly what most people want to hear when going through a difficult breakup, but beyond that, is it even possible? Can two people who have ended their relationship, however amicably (or not) really go on being friends?
Can You Be Friends With Your Ex? The Short Version
The good news for most people out there is that it’s absolutely possible to be friends, even great friends, with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. The key to developing a post-relationship friendship is being mature enough to accept that your own breakup is the right thing, and to genuinely wish your ex happiness and contentment in their own love life.
That, of course, is easier said than done for a lot of people. It’s one of those things that can seem possible, and even easy, in the beginning when you’re just being friendly and civil with an ex, but then becomes an entirely different ball game when you see them being romantically involved with someone else. Regardless, it is certainly a possibility.
Is Being Friends with an Ex a Good or Bad Idea? Some Questions to Ask Yourself
Is being friends with your ex necessary?
The first thing to ask yourself is whether or not it’s even necessary to put yourself through this experience. If there is some specific reason that you and an ex would benefit from being friends, then it becomes a good idea, such as if you have children together, or if you work together, or if you are in a situation where you will be constantly crossing paths with them anyway. In these circumstances, it’s a good idea to try and be friends, since it makes life a lot easier.
But if you don’t have any of these things to worry about, you should ask yourself if it’s even necessary. We’re not saying you should hate your ex if you think you’ll never see them again anyway. It’s okay to push yourself to be civil or friendly if you see them in public, but that’s not the same thing as making a conscious effort to be friends.
Are you really ready to move on?
It’s quite common for people to feel that they are ready to move on, only then to discover that they have made a serious mistake. Seeing your ex again can draw up all kinds of unresolved feelings, both good and bad, but all of which ultimately lead you back to a feeling of sadness or depression because you are more acutely aware than ever that your relationship is now over. Have you had the time to properly process these raw emotions? Have you reached a stage where you feel you can put your romantic connection in your past? If so, then you can likely be friends with your ex.
Is there any anger, resentment or other negative feelings?
Following on from the previous point, it’s probably a bad idea to pursue friendship with an ex if you have all kinds of unresolved negative feelings that you are working through. It takes time to process the raw emotion of a breakup. The sudden nature of a relationship ending can leave one with all manner of feelings left bubbling over to the extreme. If you suspect even a little that you might have such lingering feelings, then you’re probably not in a good place to start pursuing a friendship with an ex.
How will you feel when he/she moves on?
One more important question to ask yourself is whether or not you are ready to see this ex moving on with their life and getting romantically involved with other people. Will you boil into a rage when you see another person kissing your ex? Will your heart fall into your feet when you learn that they’ve gotten engaged, or married? If you can’t be happy for your ex moving on, then you’re not ready to be their friend.
Why Do Exes Even Want to Be Friends?
The Bonds that Tie
The fact is that some connections between people actually transcend the romantic bonds that they believed once defined them. When you’re with another person as their boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s easy to think that this is how things are supposed to be. However, for many people there are connections there that can (and should) endure beyond the life of that romantic partnership.
For example, if the ex is someone you’ve known your whole life and were friends with before you became lovers, there’s no reason you can’t return to platonic friendship and honor those lifelong bonds. If you didn’t remain friends with that ex, then the real tragedy wouldn’t be the end of your relationship, but rather the end of that friendship.
Doing It For the Kids
Another key reason is to benefit any children that might have resulted from your union. It’s not just married couples that have kids together, and remaining on friendly terms — civil terms at the very least — has huge benefits for those children. Being surrounded by negativity is never good for young people, and hearing one’s parents tear emotional chunks out of each other is particularly damaging.
Because Grudging is Harder
Finally, another key reason exes may want to stay friends is that it takes far more energy to hold a grudge and dislike someone than it does just to get along with them. If you’ve experienced what it’s like to hold grudges or genuinely dislike another person, you’ll know that it’s practically a full-time occupation. These feelings consume you, and quickly start to spill into other areas of your personality and life, polluting your entire being over time.
Therefore, exes want to be friends because even though on the surface it can seem like the harder option, the reality is quite different. Once you get started being friendly with an ex, you start to see that it’s generally much easier. It’s also easier on your mutual friends who no longer have to worry about accidentally getting the two of you in the same room!
Could My Ex Fall Back in Love With Me?
It would be foolish to say that this outcome is an impossibility. Yes, if you are friends with an ex, there is a remote chance that the two of you might fall back in love. The real question, however, is should you even be worried about this? Let’s say that the two of you do fall back in love. If you’re both still single, and your breakup has forced you to rediscover each other and appreciate one another all over again, then can we really say that’s a bad thing? It could be the best thing that ever happens to either of you.
You or an ex falling back in love after breaking up and being friends is only really a problem in two situations. The first is if one or both of you have — or thought you had — moved on with someone else. In that situation, you’re bringing an innocent party into the mix and they are inevitably going to get hurt by the resurgent romantic feelings between the two of you. The second is if one falls back in love but not the other.
On reflection, falling back in love with an ex who is now a friend is what one might call an “occupational hazard” in that it just inherently comes with the territory. It’s one of the risks you’ll have to take if you want any chance at good, healthy, and friendly relationships with exes. The potential reward is arguably worth the risk. The fact is that even if you still love an ex, or they you, friendships and platonic relationships are still perfectly possible if you are both truly willing to respect one another’s space, and be happy for one another’s happiness.