Is It Ever Possible to Stay Friends With an Ex?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to staying friends with an ex, and whilst some people maintain that staying friends with an ex is always a bad idea I think that, not only is it not always a bad idea, but that often ex-partners make excellent friends.

If you are in a quandary about whether of not to cut contact forever, here a few pointers to help you determines whether you should cut your loses and delete your ex from your life forever or call time on the relationship but keep them around as a friend.

You aren’t going to be friends with your ex three days after breaking up with them.

And if the sentence ‘can we just be friends’ appears before six months of breaking up, your answer should always be no. Because regardless of whether your relationship last two months or two years, there will be mixed feelings floating around which will inevitably interfere with your new found ‘friendship’.

It is also useful to remember that when a person has the ‘can we be friends’ conversation what they actually mean is I never want to see you again but I haven’t got the balls to tell you straight.

Either that or they are just not into you but wouldn’t mind a shag now and again and don’t want to burn their bridges. Being friends with an ex straight after a break up will only ever come to no good. With this in mind, time is the important thing to consider when you are toying with the idea of staying friends with an ex.

According to some, a person needs twice the amount of time they have been in the relationships to recover and therefore be in a place where they can have a friendship with an ex-partner. I’m not sure that one can implement such a hard and fast rule on matters of the heart however I do agree that time is a great healer.

And there is no doubt that as time passes, regardless of whether you were the dumper or the dumped, wounds do heal. If they don’t, the only way to move on with your life is to cut all contact and leave your ex in the past. If those wounds do heal however, then friendship is possible.

So to imagine we are in a situation where a significant amount of time has passed, ask yourself the following.

Are you really over your ex?

Or to put another way, are you staying friends with your ex because you genuinely value them as a person and they enrich your life in ways non-ex friends can or do you think that, by keeping the channels of contact open, they may have a sudden moment of realisation and come running back into your arms, full or remorse and regret?

Because If this is your cunning plan, let me save you the trouble of executing it. Your ex isn’t going to change their mind and you are putting yourself in the firing line for delayed heartache and potential humiliation. Breaking up is never easy for either parities. However, unless the intentions of friendship are truly genuine, delaying the inevitable hurt, under the guise of friendship is always going to end in tears. With this in mind …

A good test to see if you can stay friends with your ex is imagining them with somebody else without wanting to neck a bottle of vodka and spend 8 hours crying into your pillow.

Ouch, it hurts doesn’t it. And if you are the one to have been dumped I would say that nine times out of ten the answer is no. No, you would rather swim the english channel naked in December than even consider them in the arms of another. Sadly, unless you met your ex-partner in a nursing home, the likelihood of them meeting someone else after you is pretty high. Meaning that, if you are determined you stay friends you must be fully prepared for them to introduce you to their new partner and to be fully gracious about the fact they are in the throws of love and can talk of nothing else, to boot.

Real friends talk about new relationships, real friends expect you to be happy for them, real friends do not edit out parts of their lives for fear of upsetting each other. In other words, if you are not prepared for your ex to be totally open with you about all aspects of their life then you are never going to be friends, it really is that simple.

Still think you can be friends with your ex? (and yes I am making this hard for a reason) …

Consider whether you really need them in your life, or if you’re just filling a space until something else comes along.

Yes, of course it’s hard to let go of a person you have shared a huge amount of time with, but consider whether you really need them around. If they’ve dumped you, the chances are they’re saying yes to your offer of friendship because they either pity you or they don’t want to hurt you all over again. Do you need that in your life? Is that really somebody you’d consider a friend?

And if you dumped them think about the boot being on the other foot. Is it fair to delay their grieving process by staying in contact? Are you staying friends with them for the same reasons, because you quite like the idea of having a fallback, or it strokes your ego to know you’ve still got an ex hanging around?

Be wary about either offering or accepting friendship from an ex – and don’t let yourself be the bridge he hasn’t burnt because he’s never had to. You’re not that desperate for friends.

No contact means NO contact.

The advantage of modern technology is that there are increasing amount of ways to stay in touch with people. However, when it comes to break-ups, this can be a disadvantage too and cutting someone out of your life doesn’t just mean cutting out of the evening conversation you are used to having with them on the phone.

As hard as it is, if you really want to move on then it’s important to cut all ties with them. Delete them from Facebook, from Twitter, Instagram and any other social media channels you may share. Not only will this remove all temptation to self harm by spending your evenings checking up on their exciting new life without you, but it will also mean that they aren’t able to ‘virtually’ keep you in their life either.

You are either totally fine and having a ball or crying non-stop and drinking 3 bottles of Sauvignon Blanc before midday – whichever it is to be it is no longer their business. The removal of all contact is harsh but it is also the quickest and most effective way to get over a relationship.

You haven’t spoken for a year and are both in new relationships – hello friendship!

So here’s the good news. After a significant amount of time, when you both really have moved on (be it in new relationships or not) it is possible to re-kindle a friendship with an ex. People break-up for different reasons, and it isn’t always because they can’t stand the sight of each other.

If outside factors contributed to your break-up but essentially you were friends and enjoyed each others company during the relationship then there is no reason why you can’t be friends. Some of my closest friends are ex-boyfriends – why does it work? Because we gave each other time to heal and returned, after time, to a friendship that is now solid and genuine.

Staying friends with an ex is a tough call – but with the right amount of time, the right intentions and a healthy respect for each others ‘new’ life it can work.

And there’s nothing like an ex in your life to be brutally honest about your faults – but that’s for another blog post.

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