Is It A Mistake To Be Friends With My Ex?

Question: I was with my ex for 4 years and broke up 8 months ago. He’s my best friend and knows me better than anybody else. I don’t feel like I have to impress him. We broke up because we had different thoughts and opinions on life, religion, politics, etc. Sometimes we would argue and neither of us would give in. Everything else about our relationship was working really well. The breakup hurt both of us deeply but our differences were too much.  We both felt it was the right thing to do because we didn’t want to end up hating each other. We made a pact that we would remain friends no matter what. I’m dating someone else, and so is he. We talk to each other everyday and we both enjoy each other’s company. The thing is… I still get butterflies when I see him. He just has that effect on me. Other than the occasional hi and bye hug, we’ve not been physically intimate since the break up. He is and has been a great big part of my life, I do not want to lose the friendship we have. Am I making a mistake keeping close contact with him?

Yangki’s Answer: First of all, congratulations for the level of maturity the two of you have shown. It’s not always that two people recognize that the end of a romantic relationship doesn’t have to be the beginning of nastiness or disrespect and hate for the person one once claimed to love.

That said, friendship with an ex can be difficult to maintain when one still feels butterflies in the stomach at the sight of an ex. Whether or not it’s a mistake keeping in close contact with your ex depends on what you do with those feelings.

Scenario 1:

With time, and as you come to accept that what you had as a couple is over but you still value the friendship you had and want your ex in your life, the butterfly feelings change to a lasting friendship based on deep respect and appreciation. You may even find that your lives move in different directions but the good memories remain.

Scenario 2:

The feelings get brought to the surface more and more and it ruins the “friends” part of the arrangement. I’ve seen some people try to do the friends with benefits thing as away to deal with the left over strong feelings of sexual attraction, but almost always someone ends up getting hurt when the other person moves on.

Scenario 3:

You both realize that what you have is so much stronger than what drew you apart in the first place. But this is where you have to be really honest with yourself. Do you want him back? What has changed in regard to your differences? What makes you think that it’ll work this time?  But more importantly, does he want you back?

Talk to your ex about what’s really going on. Given what you say about your friendship, only good can come out of an open discussion on your true feelings for each other.  A good talk will help both of you decide on the right and necessarily thing to do in the best interest of the other.

If you decide that some distance between the two of you is the best thing to do, then make sure you agree on exactly how much contact is healthy at this time or in the future. You have experience working together and it shouldn’t be too hard given the strength of your friendship.

In other words, no one size fits all situations, you have to do what is right for the two of you.

This might also help: 3 Reasons Why Being Friends Can Get Back Your Ex

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  • Thank you Yangki. I’m cancer free, and have been for over a year. I’m dating someone new and so is my ex, and the four of us are good friends. I was lucky to meet someone who also is friends with his ex, so he understands our (my ex and I) friendship and I understand his too. We have our ups and down just like all new relationships and that’s why I’m on your blog, but we love each other and trying to build the most loving relationship we can possible have. I believe when we allow love to be at the centre of our life, that love comes back to us manyfold.

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  • I’m friends with all my exes except those that don’t want to be friends. The western consumer mentality has made it easy for people to also be disposable. I personally believe this has it’s tragedies and like many things will come back to haunt our society. It’s already happening with hit and run marriages. No desire to work on relationships, just dispose of it and get another one. We are creating a society of emotionally shallow men and women, no depth at all.

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  • It’d be nice to remain friends with my ex and I’m happy for those people who can do it. But for me, but I have to break the ties with him or I will never be able to move on. I know this is what is best because I can’t move on with my life until I am free of the connection to that old part of my life.

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  • Thanks Yangki. I’ll be signing up for coaching with you soon. There are private things I need to talk to you about because I believe you are the best person who can help me. You have helped me a lot already, more than you even know.

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