Being friends with your ex can lead to getting back together but only if you do “being friends” with your ex right.
Don’t be friends with your ex, there is no such a thing as friends with an ex, you can’t move on when you are still talking to your ex, etc. That’s what almost everyone says. And you have probably told your ex “we can’t be friends” because you think that being friends with your ex will ruin your chances of getting back together.
There is truth to all the above statements.
- Some people are just too toxic together, even as friends.
- Some people struggle with transitioning from a romantic relationship to being friends.
- If you don’t know what you are doing, being friends with your ex can hurt your chances of getting your ex back.
That said, being friends with an ex is actually more common and more expected than most people realize. And if you want your ex back, sometimes being friends is your only option.
I’ll back up a little. I don’t advice telling your ex “let’s be friends” if you want your ex back. Huge mistake.
1. Your ex might agree to being friends believing that friendship is all you want. Before you’ve even had a chance to try to get them back you’re “friendzoned”.
2. “Friends” or “friendship” has certain expectations and limitations on what you can and can not do “as friends”. If you say or do anything that cross the boundaries of the friendship, it will make things feel really awkward, and your ex may feel feel deceived/manipulated.
3. The other reason I discourage using the words “friends” is because many exes rightfully) don’t feel that they can quickly transition to “being friends with an ex” and may need sometime before they’re ready to be friends. Asking them to be friends just after breaking up may feel like pressure and they’ll reject the idea of a friendship or beings friends. In my experience, “keep the lines of communication open” or “a way to stay in each other’s life” is less pressure because there’s no label to what the two of you are.
BUT… this is very important. If your ex says they want to be friends, or that friendship is all they can offer you at the moment, DO NOT turn down the offer because you are scared that being friends will hurt your chances.
How can being friends with your ex lead to getting back together?
1. Emotional safety
Emotional safety when trying to attract back an ex is in my opinion even more important than in a relationship. In a relationship there are things that two people do because it’s what you do (texting, calling, spending time together) when you are in a relationship. Just having that certainty and consistency provides a sense of safety. The lid is lifted off that sense of safety when a relationship ends. All of a sudden everything is uncertain.
Being friends helps maintain some degree of certainty, consistency and safety. When you’re friends, you can text your ex, call and hang out within a safe emotional environment. This is something you can’t do it if you take the stand that you cannot be friends and your ex takes the stand that they don’t want to get back together.
2. Opportunity to show change
Again, if you take the stand that you don’t want to be friends and your ex says they can only be friends, it’s over. You can try to make them miss you and scare them into taking you back and it may very well work. But as the quote says “Those convinced against their will, are of the same opinion still” – meaning an ex who comes back because they were talked or manipulated into coming back, didn’t come ack of their own free will. The chances that they will leave again are very high.
Being friends gives you gives you the opportunity to showcase the changes you’ve made. You made all these changes but your ex doesn’t get to see them (may be ever) if you are not in regular contact via text, phone calls or in person. But when you are “friends”, you have many opportunities to show that you have indeed changed. The more you are in your ex’s everyday life (and thoughts), the better your chances.
3. Try out a new dynamic/relationship
Being friends with your ex also gives you the opportunity to test-drive the new relationship without risking too much.
It’s hard for many exes to go from broken up to back together again because they don’t want to take the risk of finding out that things can’t work out. Being friends with your ex is like the bridge between the old relationship and the new relationship. Because there is no pressure to be anything other than two people who like and enjoy each other, the “new” relationship has time to grow and feel comfortable for both of you.
Follow these 4 steps on how to do “being friends” with an ex right
If you have read up to this point, I have to assume that you are open to being friends with your ex and see the benefits of starting as friends with an ex. I am going to be as honest and clear as I possibly can be: Being friends with an ex you want back is not easy (see reasons why). Not everyone can be friends with an ex, let alone do it right.
No question about it, being friends with your ex if you do it right gives you a strong start and puts you steps ahead of exes who are not friends with their exes. But beings friends with an ex you want back when you’re not in an emotionally good place may set you back in your emotional healing. Even if you are in a good emotional place, if you have negative beliefs about being friends with an ex, you will struggle with making being friends work for you.
So you have to be really honest with yourself. If you’re not ready to be friends with an ex or if you can’t be friends with an ex, it is not a negative reflection of you. You’re just being emotionally honest with yourself, and shouldn’t feel pressured to be friends with an ex.
If you are ready to continue, here are steps you need to know and follow if you want to do being friends with an ex right. Many exes have found themselves back together because they followed these steps.
STEP 1: Accept your ex’s offer to be friends and make the best of it
Adults don’t go to another adult, shake their hand and say “I want you to be my friends’, “I want to be your friend” or “let’s be friends”. You do that when you’re 3 – 6 years old, and after than you outgrow the kindergarten way of making friends. So when an ex says “be friends”, they either have a specific “relationship” in mind or haven’t thoroughly thought about what they’re offering.
This is where your maturity and being a “safe person” come in. Don’t knee-jerk react with “I don’t want to be friends” when you don’t even know what your ex is saying or offering.
You may have been offered a window of opportunity to do all the things you could have done right to make your relationship safe, healthy and fulfilling, but didn’t. Take it. If your relationship is like most, by the time of the break-up, the relationship wasn’t working for your ex (or for you). If there were many arguments and conflict that made your ex lose feelings, think you were not right for each other or were incompatible your ex most likely still feels the same and holds those views about you and the relationship. If you give them the option to choose between getting back together and moving on, they’ll likely choose moving on, and rightly so. The lost feelings or relationship isn’t working for them, why would they want to get back together?
Use the window of opportunity you’ve been offered to show change their perception and experience of you. If the word “friends” bothers you so much, change the way you think about it. Think of it as the “probation period” before you are hired for the job. Your ex thinks you qualify for the job but they want to try you out first. You know you qualify for the job, but okay…
STEP 2: Make clear to your ex you want more than friendship
This next step is probably going to be harder for some people than others, and trigger anxiety in those with an anxious attachment, fear in those with a fearful avoidant attachment and concern about getting into something you may not be able to control in dismissive avoidants.
But if you’re working towards becoming securely attached and being a safe partner and stabilizer in your relationship, learning to communicate your needs in an open and honest non- violent manner and be non-threatening and safe for the person you’re asking to meet your need, is how you get your needs met. Securely attached people do this naturally and are rewarded with not just getting their needs met but also with satisfying healthy relationships.
So, open, honest, non- violent, non-threatening and safe. Make it clear from the start that ‘being friends” with your ex is not the end goal. You understand that right now getting back together is not something they want or are ready to do, but you’re not going to pretend that you don’t hope that you will get back together at some point. They don’t have to agree or commit to getting back together at some point, all you’re doing is being honest with yourself and with them. You want to be in their life and if their feelings about you or the relationship change in the process, you welcome the idea of getting back together.
This is really important because 1) you don’t want to be friendzoned and 2) many exes who still have feelings for an ex resist being friends because they think they will be pressured to get back together when they’re not ready or sure it’s what they want.
STEP 3: Agree on what “being friends” with your ex means
Over the years, I’ve seen exes who still have feelings for an ex or still have some hope (however small) that things had turned out differently and the break-up didn’t happen resist keeping the lines of communication open or being friends because they have no idea what is expected of them, or even how beings friends after you’ve been romantic really means.
It’s your job to find out 1) what it is exactly that being friends means and what the boundaries are, 2) if being friends will meet your current needs for connection, communication and closeness and 3) if being friends will lead to a possible romantic relationship.
My opinion is being friends with an ex means what the two of you decide it means. Whatever works for the two of you is what is right for the two of you. Make sure that you define in very clear terms what to expect and not expect from each other and ask your ex to communicate their boundaries and what they’re comfortable with in terms of contact, space, time spent together, seeing other people, intimacy etc.
The “what being friends” conversation doesn’t have to happen at once. Some exes may not even know exactly what they are offering by being friends. They said “let’s be friends” because it sounded emotionally mature. You may find that the boundaries of “being friends” form as you interact, and they tell you what is okay to say or do, and what is not.
STEP 4: Create new positive feelings and memories
This is the part about attracting back an ex that many people completely ignore or don’t focus enough on. I’ve worked with so many people who think that all they have to do is show and ex that they still love/care about them or correct their ex’s misconceptions and about them and what happened in the relationship and… their ex will come back. The ignore all advice that isn’t about “showing” their and ex that they love them or care about them, or trying to explain, correct or fix the past. Then they wonder why their ex isn’t responding or pulling further away even with all the effort they’re putting in to get them back.
The other mistake I see so often is relying on old memories or “nostalgia” to create attraction. One, this is a risk when dealing with an avoidant who is deactivated. Reminding them of things about the relationship may actually backfire because they also remember why they broke up with you in the first place. Secondly, recollections differ after a break-up. See How Does Reminding Your Ex Of Good Times Get Them Back?
Instead of coming across as unimaginative, “stuck in the past” or “not changed”, show creativity, create new feelings and new emotions and show your ex that things can and will be better. You will find that it was in being present in the moment and enjoying each other for who they are and who you have become that creates feelings of attraction.
Use being friends to create new positive memories and attraction. If you’re not creating new feelings – laughing, enjoying some really good moments with your ex even just via text – you are not creating attraction however well you word your texts or time your contacts.
If you do “being friends” with your ex right, it can lead to getting your ex back. As the saying goes: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. It’s better to work with the opportunity you have than to risk losing everything trying to get something more, or because you are too scared of being friends with an ex.