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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44 Comments

  • I think the key to staying friends with an ex is to just be as honest and up front. Do not pretend that you don’t have a history and if she has a boyfriend or you have a girlfriend make sure that everyone involved is comfortable with the situation.

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  • She has a boyfriend but says we can still be friends, he is okay with it. What are the chances that she’ll be interested in a relationship with me?

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  • My soon to be ex wants to just be friends. She says she’s not romantically interested in me and there’s no attraction left. She sees me as a brother. It would be nice to be friends, but it’s hard when you’ve been together for 2 1/2 years to go back to being just friends. Do you think I should just try and may be she’ll be attracted to me again? We don’t speak to each other that much and when we do, we do not speak about the relationship. She says it makes her feel bad for me. Your thoughts?

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  • Yangki, have you heard of the book called ####?
    I’d love to know your thoughts on it. I bought your “dating your ex ebook” and I’m trying to ignite a spark but according to this other “expert” advice it purports the idea that “women don’t lie and men don’t listen”, and that once a women says the “friend” word, it will always be just that.

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    • What does real life experience tell you about “women don’t lie and men don’t listen”? If you have met women who’ve lied/lie and know men who listen, then there you have your answer.

      If you noticed, I didn’t answer your questions. Reason being you were not asking for my advice (which is what this site is for), but asking me about someone else’s advice, something you should be asking them to explain because they are the ones who made those statements.

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  • It’s safe to say that this whole about can’t be friends with your exes is pretty much American. Here in my country it’s common to find exes that are friends even after a divorce. Of course if your ex is abusive or completely psycho that’s another thing.

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    • I think it’s a sign of emotional maturity to be able to maintain a friendship with an ex, unless of course as you say, your ex is abusive or completely psycho. I personally wouldn’t get involved with someone who “hates” all his exes or calls them names. I know they’ll do it to me too.

      However, using “lets be friends” to get your ex back can easily backfire. Your ex may actually believe that all you want is to just be friends, and later when you tell him/her that you still have romantic feelings for him/her and want him/her back, he/she may feel lied to and even manipulated.

      It’s best not to offer “let’s be friends” if you want your ex back. But if they do offer, take the opportunity not the label. It means that you can text, call, hang out and showcase the changes you’ve made within a safe emotional environment.

      It’s worked out well for many of my clients, as long as they do not allow themselves to get trapped in the friend-zone.

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