Can You Be Friends With an Ex

Time and time again, whether you’ve said it or heard it, you’re probably familiar with the phrase, “let’s be friends.” Usually, it’s ending a romantic relationship or ending things before they could turn into a romantic relationship. Either way, if you were the one on the receiving end, it probably hurt hearing those words a bit, and if you were on the sending end, it might have hurt a bit to say it. So here’s the big question, can you be friends with an ex?

In my opinion this is one of those questions that the answer lives in the gray area. For many, asking can you be friends with an ex depends on several factors, including the other person. I know that in my past, I’ve had a couple of exes, and depending on the ex, we can stay friends, and others, not so much. Not to mention, there’s friends and then friendly.

So my first ex after college, we were together for a couple of months, and he actually broke it off with me, but it was a bit of a mutual thing. We were able to work through that, and remain on mostly friendly terms, after a couple weeks. It helped that we saw each other at least once a week, so we didn’t really have a choice but to be polite, but I think that actually helped to thaw things. I don’t really have anything bad to say about him, and I hope the feeling is mutual. We were good while it lasted, we just weren’t meant to be. We weren’t friends in that we hung out after ending things, but we never really hung out as friends before dating either, so that’s not surprising. But I also never felt I had to duck behind a bush or leave a place just because he was there too. So, friendly, but not friends.

Another ex, well he and I didn’t remain friends because it was slightly awkward for me. He wanted more than I did. I’m pretty set in my gut feelings, so when I feel like something isn’t working, I go with that. Because of the total opposite feelings, it was a little awkward, and because of that, we didn’t really stay in touch after that. Again, I have nothing bad to say about him, he’s a nice guy, just not right for me, and quite frankly, we didn’t have a good friendship to begin with.

In other cases, the friendship can continue even after the breakup, because there was a solid friendship before dating even happened. In my opinion, that’s the sign of two mature people who may not have been a good match at the moment, but they can value the friendship they had with one another more than they value their pride after a breakup. Plus, who cares if you broke up? If you two were good friends, you gave it a shot, it didn’t work, go back to friends. That dynamic is still there. Sure, there’s going to be some awkwardness, but that too will pass.

Now, in some cases, the split is so messy, and so much is said, that it’s understandable you couldn’t even stand to be near that person, let alone stay friends with them. If there’s a toxic relationship or just a horribly messy breakup, then I think trying to maintain a friendship is just too much stress, and not worth it for either end. At that point, it’s probably best to cut losses and move on, and just accept, that we can’t all be friends with our exes.

Every case is different and every person is different, which is why I don’t think the question, can you be friends with an ex, has a simple answer. It depends on the two people involved, and it depends on a lot of other factors, including friendship before and after, if you two are in the same area, maturity levels, etc. I guess the important thing is, don’t lose a good friendship, one that you really benefited from just because of temporary hurt feelings, and don’t try to remain friends if it’s really making you uncomfortable or unhappy. But most importantly, be honest about things.


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