Yes, I Am Friends With My Ex (es)
This is a follow on post from “Can Exes Be Friends?”. It was too long for the web so I broke it in half. For starters, yes I am friends with my ex(es). Well, most of them. A few didn’t want to be my friend, but I’d happily be friends with all of my exes. It is my intention for you to read this and think about what’s been said and whether or not you should attempt to be friends with your ex.
One, in particular, is a wonderful guy and we’ve pretty much been friends since it ended. That said, we split up due to geography (mostly) – as I was in California and he was in England. Plus neither of us was so head-over-heels that we couldn’t handle making that transition right away.
More often than not, break-ups aren’t so smooth. It’s usually one person walking away and another being left…
Instead of just hearing what I have to say let’s hear from other SYBD men and women over the years…
Smiler Says this About Friendship With Ex
“It depends on your emotional system. If you can cut out every kind of romantic emotion that you had with this ex, then great – I think it’s possible.
Personally though, I think it’s too messy to stay friends with an ex. I’d rather get rid of the history. When a new guy comes on the scene, at least I don’t have to worry about them being paranoid if I had an ex as a friend!
If you can do it, then fine. If not – clear your clutter….For me, I have never stayed friends with an ex – because it’s been too painful for me. I was either still in love with them when we broke up or they had emotional baggage.”– SMILER
Why Does your Ex Want to Be Friends?
Sometimes it’s the ex who wants to keep the friendship going and who constantly gets in touch. Is it out of convenience? Maybe they’re stuck in a comfort zone they don’t want to give up? Or maybe it’s out of some residual guilt that they remain in contact.
Often the one who chose to leave – still has feelings for the person they’ve left, but the feelings have simply changed. So in these cases it benefits the leaver, to be in touch, but not so much the one who’s been left.
To me, and from what I’ve seen for seventeen years here, it helps when there is no chance of going back. What I mean is that being only friends with an ex ever truly works when both people want the friendship, but neither wants more. Or they both want to work at being friends before moving back into a relationship. Essentially they need to be on the same page.
Does Your Ex Really Want to be Friends?
It’s not uncommon for our exes to say they “want to stay friends” – but then they go and behave in ways that is counter to that sentiment.
“After five years together, my ex said we should just be friends. It’s been months and she hasn’t contacted me once. No Christmas card, no birthday card, no phone call to find out whether I got the job I had an interview for the week after she finished it…nothing. She hasn’t been a friend to me. When the split HASN’T been an amicable one, I don’t see how a friendship can ensue. If she had been mature enough to accept her share of responsibility for the split, then it would be easier for me to try and forgive her. As it was, she couldn’t even say ‘sorry’ for what she did. And that hurts. I guess my opinion is: no friendship if one of you is still hurting.” – MACKENZIE
What Does being Friends With Your Ex Mean?
To be a proper friendship, it means both parties making the effort and showing respect for one another. If you’re the one always calling, texting, emailing or stopping by, it’ll soon start to make you feel foolish and desperate. And that my friends, is counter-productive to the healing process.
Whilst sure it’s possible to be friends, as I say, if you try to do it too soon, it can be a confusing and painful time.
Being friends can mean different things to different people as Phoebe found out:
“At first I thought, we’d been best and partners for fifteen years. We’d grown up together and I really didn’t want to lose that. We used to go out to lunch once a week, but he thought it meant we where working on things and would get back together. There was no way I was going down that path. So I stopped seeing him. He got a girlfriend. I am very sure we will never be friends and it really got confusing for us trying to be.” – PHOEBE
Exes as Friends? Never Say Never
Well I avoid using “never” in my vocabulary. Honestly, the moment you use the word “never” I reckon the universe ends up making a liar out of you! Sometimes we feel like we’d “never” be, or do, something at the time, but then things change.
A lot of people try to be friends because they share the same social circle, and if they don’t remain on good terms it’s awkward and uncomfortable for people to be around them. Or if you don’t remain friends with your ex, it ends up resulting in people having to choose sides and SANDY explains.
“A friend of mine recently was in a situation where she saw her ex constantly in social situations, she clearly felt very uncomfortable and upset, but many of the people around her (a big group of friends who’d hung out with the couple for years) acted as if it was somehow selfish of her to be upset, because it made things difficult for them socially. I think that mutual friends’ reactions can be very important as well – often people end up having to cut-off some of their mutual friends as well, and that’s really tough.”- SANDY
Well it is tough to navigate friendships after a breakup. I know the pain first hand, as I had to do that too. It was just too painful being around mutual friends, and so I naturally gravitated toward friends that were solely mine, or even toward some who’d never even met my ex. It won’t be everyone’s solution, but it worked for me.
Time May or May Not Heal
In time, you can perhaps resume the friendships that you had that were mutual, but in the early days, it could be better to keep a safer distance.
“My ex initiated our divorce. It took about four months for me to realize it was for the best. It took about another two months for me to realize, I could do better and that I could be happier. Once that happened, we became friends again. I think that if both people decide the break up was for the best, they have a much better chance of being friends. I respect her for having the courage to end the relationship when she knew it was for the best. It wasn’t just about her being happier, it was about both of us being happier. I guess it doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s why it was really easy for us to remain friends.” – JAZZBRAT
That was beautifully said and a positive way of looking at his break up. It wasn’t about one person being happier it was about both parties eventually, once healed, going on to be happier. That’s actually more apparent then most people realise at the time.
“I think that a lot of people would like to be friends with their ex, but if there is still strong feelings (either love or hate or whatever) from either party then ultimately it isn’t possible to be ‘real’ friends. Being ‘friendly’ isn’t the same as being friends. I tried (like many other dumpees) at the beginning of the break up, but it hurt so much being around him that I had to cut myself off. Now he wants to be my friend again, and seems to think that enough time has passed to allow that (six months). There is no way I’m ready for that now, I still love him and think about him all the time. I would like to be able to be friends with him again one day, but at the moment I want more.” – LIZZIE1509
Don’t Set Yourself Up for More Pain
When we try to be friends right away, if we are still interested in them as more than a friend, it is incredibly hard not to end up reading too much into each bit of contact we do have with them.
In the past, I’ve attempted to downshift from lover to friends, and when I tried it too soon, it always had disastrous results. Often I have to cut all ties with someone I’ve dated until I healed a bit, because it is just too hard to immediately downshift from lover to friend.
To be successful, it takes both sides not wanting to be in the relationship anymore. If one person wants more, it just doesn’t work. It’s rather like constantly rubbing salt on a wound – just reminding yourself over and over again what you’re missing.
I often used to marvel at the people who log on to the site – citing all sorts of perceived crimes and misdemeanours their ex made – and then they proceed to whine about how they “love” their ex still and can’t bear the thought of living with out them. Why is that?
“If somebody has broken your heart, crushed your spirit and betrayed your trust why would you want them as a friend? After a decent amount of time has lapsed and there is genuinely no feeling there any more then I guess you can have a stab at it. I never have though. If it was such an ordeal getting over them – why invite them back into your life? Besides by that stage your ex will have a new partner and he/she will not be happy about them hanging out with you. You may have a new partner who feels the same. You can never talk comfortably or honestly about your love life to an ex – so what’s the point?” – ROGER
As I always say “perspective is a mirror and not a fact” – so for those people who believe they can be friends with an can ex manage it. Those who don’t, don’t.
“I am friends with one of my exes, but it’s been years since we split up. I wouldn’t say we are the best of friends. We live miles apart and just contact each other occasionally by email, but when we do, it is quite intense contact for awhile. We can talk about anything! We have met up quite a few times since the break-up also. Whenever we are in trouble we seem to turn to each other. I think the only thing that stops the friendships working is if there is any bitterness or romantic nostalgia there – all of these feelings must be completely over with.” – BARN OWL
When the Ex is Your Best Friend
Matt says being friends worked for him, and that one of his best friends is an ex, but admittedly it was only a short-term relationship.
“The relationship was horrible because we each had very different expectations of what we wanted from each other. After breaking up and not seeing each other for six months, we ran into each other again through a mutual friend (the same one who hooked us up). We realized that we still had a lot in common and enjoyed being around each other, but that dating was out of the question. Since then, we’ve been very close friends. She’s even been a major support during my break-up with my most recent ex. So I guess the trick is a combination of common interests, time apart and a lack of expectations.”- MATT
It’s awesome when you can be friends with an ex. After all they probably knew you so well?
“The major love of my life is my best friend, but we were friends before anything happened between us, we were in a same sex relationship, I am still gay, she is now married with kids. We were together for many years and just grew out of each other. She found a guy and eventually married, I was her bridesmaid, and now god mother to her kids. I am not sure why it worked out the way it did, we really liked each other and had loved each other as friends, and it now seems to have gone full circle.” – SAM
Final Words on Can Exes Be Friends
Some people feel that choosing to not stay friends is a way of empowering themselves. Though we as a dumpee may have had little say in the relationship ending – we do have the power to choose how we split up.
Generally speaking, as John Gray once said “Good endings make good beginnings” and whenever possible it’s better to end on as good of terms as possible.
Another possible fly in the ointment of friendship is when we move on to new relationships. Generally speaking, our partners are not too fond of us remaining in contact with exes.
Doing so can make even the most secure of us feel insecure. So you may find that even if have you managed to be friends with your ex – once someone new is on the scene for either of you – it’s likely to change the dynamic in some way. It may even mean you’re not longer friends.
Share Your Experience on Being Friends with Your Ex.
Are you friends with your exes? Let me know in the comments below