Can You be Friends with Your Ex?


If your relationship ends on good terms, having your ex as a friend can be beneficial. After all, this person is most likely someone you genuinely enjoy spending time with and with whom you have shared many ideas, values, interests, and experiences. Just because you two didn’t work out romantically doesn’t mean you can’t be close friends. Besides, you still get along, so losing that confidant would be a shame.

So, is it safe to be friends with your ex or not? Let’s discuss the times it may or may not work to your benefit.

Should I Remain Friends with My Ex?

While it’s possible to be cool with your ex, whether or not it’s a good idea is totally up to you. It depends on the situation and the parties involved. Some people can have positive, healthy relationships with their ex-lovers without complications or issues. Others find it challenging to remain on friendly terms and end up causing unnecessary pain.

Sometimes people realize that their romantic relationships aren’t working. However, they still have certain aspects of the connection they value and can happily maintain through friendship.

Remaining friends with your ex is a great idea when other parts of the relationship are valuable to your personal expansion and growth. For example, your ex may have encouraged your development and helped you reach your goals and grow. It’s as if your ex was a better business partner than a romantic one.

In addition, you may have enjoyed activities like hiking and working out together. After your breakup, you still want to do those things with each other. If this is the case, you may be better off as friends than as romantic partners.

If you have children with your ex, remaining friends is especially beneficial as you co-parent. It can create a more accessible environment for the children and both parents. It also provides ease when disciplining the children and managing schedules.

However, if you’re attempting to successfully move on from the relationship, being friends with your ex can create difficulties, especially if there are lingering romantic feelings. Additionally, issues can arise when one or both people begin dating other individuals.

Is it Possible Being Friends with an Ex You Still Love?

It’s harder to be friends with your ex if you still have romantic feelings, but it’s not impossible. Many people don’t “take back” their love after a recent breakup. Typically, it takes time for the dust to settle before moving into friendship mode.

You may continue to care deeply about your former partner, even though those feelings don’t include the desire to continue dating. As long as you fully accept that the relationship is over and you are moving on with your life, a friendship with your ex is definitely doable.

Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to move on if the love you continue to have for your ex still feels exciting, hot, and intense.

When it’s OK to Remain Friends With Your Ex

  • You have both accepted the romantic relationship is over. You understand why the breakup happened and are OK with the end result.
  • You’ve taken the proper amount of time to process the end of your relationship. In other words, you haven’t rushed into another relationship.
  • You don’t have any lingering romantic feelings or want to be in a relationship with your ex. For instance, there’s a sense of satisfaction that it’s over.
  • You both feel you’ve emotionally moved on from the relationship. You’re in ‘what-they-do-now-is-none-of-my-business’ mode.
  • You are not emotionally charged by what your ex says or does because it feels like your other platonic friendships. Your go-to emotion is no longer jealousy when you see your ex with someone else.
  • The friendship you have adds value to your lives. You feel good being around them.
  • You can spend time together without it being distracting, tense, or painful. There are no more inappropriate intimate moments.
  • You have kids with your ex or are connected in some other way (professionally or socially) but can still maintain a casual interaction with each other.
  • You no longer feel attached to each other. You both have independent, private, separate lives.
  • You easily maintain appropriate boundaries with each other. For example, you can discuss memories and feelings without becoming emotional.

When You and Your Ex Should Cut Ties

  • One or both of you secretly hope to get back together even though you were not good for each other.
  • You feel as though your ex is not completely over you.
  • You don’t feel OK with being friends with them.
  • You feel guilty for breaking up and feel like you “owe” them your attention.
  • Your friendship feels draining and one-sided, like you’re the only one making an effort.
  • You have difficulty moving on because you still have romantic feelings for your ex.
  • You have issues maintaining boundaries because you continuously slip back into old dating habits. For example, you maintain a sexual relationship, or your ex is still your go-to for every situation.
  • You’re afraid to start living independently from your ex, so you refuse to untangle your life with theirs.
  • The thought of your ex moving on with someone else affects your mental well-being.
  • You hold on to your past because you don’t want to imagine dating someone new or having a strong bond with another person.
  • Your ex constantly occupies your energy, time, and thoughts, affecting your ability to date another person.

You don’t have to be in each other’s space immediately. You can still care about each other and eventually get to a place where you can be on friendly terms. But, sometimes, you need time to step back and evaluate the situation before moving forward.

Set Boundaries with Your Ex

Whether or not you remain friends, setting boundaries with your ex is essential. These limitations include emotional, physical, and time.

It’s up to both of you to determine which limits you need to put in place to remain friends without repeating a possible messy situation.

Consider things like:

  • How much you rely on each other emotionally.
  • How often you communicate.
  • Do you feel comfortable spending time alone or preferably in groups?
  • What do you expect from each other?
  • How much personal information you share.
  • Are you going to share information about significant others?

Regarding physical boundaries, some people feel OK with sharing sexual encounters with their ex, but that depends on the type of friendship you decide to have with them.

As for continuing a casual physical relationship with your ex, again, that needs to be discussed. Unfortunately, having sex with an ex often blurs the lines. However, it is possible if you both are on the same page and agree to be friends with benefits and have no expectations.

Benefits of FWB

You broke up because you didn’t get along, but the sex was amazing. Should you maintain a sexual relationship with your ex even though you’re no longer dating? What are the benefits of being a sex buddy instead of in a relationship? Here are some perks to being FWB with your ex.  

There’s no pressure
When being in an FWB situation, you’re not expecting anything but a good time. You don’t care if they texthe next day, so you have no threat of losing your sense of self. They never cross the line because there are no expectations.

Protection is a must
When you’ve been dating someone for a while, you may get lazy when it comes to protecting yourself against STIs or pregnancy. However, in a casual relationship, you’ll both put in a bigger effort to be safe because you understand that you most likely aren’t their only sexual partner.

It’s much easier to be impersonal.
You never have to deal with investing in their personal life, and you don’t need to divulge any of your histories. Instead, you can have conversations and hear ideas and opinions from someone who isn’t tainted by feeling they always need to say the right things to impress you

Time to yourself
Remember the days of feeling horny and having to go out, hoping to meet someone to take home? In an FWB relationship, you don’t need to spend time cramped up in a crowded, steamy bar while making inane conversation because you already have a sure thing at home.

And Bonus; you’re also not spending time, energy and effort nurturing a committed relationship.

It’s great practice for sexual exploration.
Often, when in a relationship, people are hesitant to try new things for fear of being judged. However, when it comes to friends with benefits, you may feel more comfortable exploring your sexual independence.

You can move on easily.
You have no emotional attachment, so you can easily move on when necessary. In addition, you never spent time making promises to each other, so when you do move on, you won’t have hurt feelings like you would if you were in a long-term commitment.

Even if you decide to take sex out of the equation, it’s easier to transition to a platonic friendship.

It’s your rules
When you are in a committed relationship with someone you love, you should consider your partner’s needs because you want them to enjoy themselves. The emotional connection typically comes before anything else.

However, in an FWB situation, you don’t always need to ensure they’re having fun and being satisfied. Sometimes, it’s alright to do things just for you and to make sure you benefit from them. In other words, focus on your orgasm, and hopefully, they can get theirs, too, BUT it’s not your responsibility.

You’re not dealing with this person in a long-term relationship, so if it doesn’t work out, move on whenever you feel it’s time.

After the Breakup, How Long Should You Wait?

Everybody is different. There’s no set limit for the time it takes to get over a breakup. Some people take a few weeks or months. Others can take years to move on.

To begin a friendship with your ex, both people must move on. If not entirely, you should, at the very least, be in the process of moving on.

Friendship with the ex shouldn’t interfere with your ability to find another relationship. However, if it does, it’s too early to attempt a platonic relationship.

Tips on How to Make a Friendship with your Ex Work

  1. Be sure you both are completely over each other.

    An essential component of creating a friendship with your ex is ensuring you are over each other. How do you feel when you’re around your ex? Are you jealous when they talk to someone else? Does your ex get angry when someone approaches you? Do you both still feel butterflies when you’re around each other? If so, you’re not over each other.
  2. Allow for some time.

    You recently broke up, so don’t rush into a friendship you may not be prepared for. So, if needed, take extra time and space immediately following your breakup before considering a friendship with your ex. There should be an adequate distance between your old romantic relationship and the current friendship you’re attempting to build.
  3. Only interact when it feels comfortable.

    Friendships are supposed to feel comfortable, so there’s no reason to have a friendship with your ex if it’s tense and doesn’t add anything positive to your life. So, for example, if you feel dread and confusion when interacting with your ex-partner, you aren’t ready for a friendship.

    In addition, if your ex keeps reappearing to draw you back into a relationship, you should consider cutting them out of your life until they are ready to see you as a friend only.
  4. Differentiate between your then and now relationship.

    Many exes make the mistake of creating a friendship that overlaps their previous relationship.

    In other words, they may be too close to be platonic friends. Are you still sleeping together? Do you hang out as you once did as a couple.

    Your newfound friendship should not resemble your former relationship. Instead, there should be clear differences between the new dynamic and how much intimacy you share.

    If your friendship has changed in title only, but the interaction is the same, did you ever really break up?
  5. You may need more space.

    While you can be friends with your ex, some ex-partners call for more space between each other.

    Recognize the cues that indicate a friendship isn’t possible. For example, is he jealous, or does she try to sabotage your new relationship? If this is the case, you may need more separation to move on completely.

    Emotionally charged dynamics may cause you to take a step back and reevaluate. Gently explain to your ex that you need extra time and space. You can always revisit the option in the near future.

Maintaining a friendship with an ex doesn’t need to be complicated. As long as you both agree on the dynamics of the relationship, there’s no reason you can’t continue to support each other in a healthy, productive manner.

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