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Can You Truly Be Friends With An Ex?

Updated on October 22, 2015
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My passion is writing about love, sex, dating, and relationships. I write based on my own personal experiences and those that I relate to.

In order to be friends—just friends with an ex—there needs to be sufficient time apart—months, possibly years—depending on how long you were together.

Time can bring clarity—a better understanding of what you really want. When you don't take proper time to evaluate why the relationship didn't work and continue to communicate with an ex, many times you can start to believe that you want that person back also it won't help you to emotionally move on from the experience. Wanting an ex back tends to happen due to loneliness, however if you both have emotionally moved on with your lives then having an ex as a friends can be a great thing.

Obviously, if there are children involved not talking to an ex is unrealistic. In this scenario, often in order to have a friendship as well as a mutual respect, you would both need to have attended enough therapy sessions to help solidify that neither one of you has any desire to get back together or have a relationship beyond friendship and raising your children.

Understand that emotionally moving on from your ex doesn't mean that you both have to be in relationships or that even one of you needs to be in a relationship in order to be friends. What this means is that you have taken enough time to evaluate and reevaluate why your relationship didn't work and have had adequate time apart so that any "left over" feelings have gone away—never to return. Sounds easy right? Well...

Depending on the chemistry that you had with your ex, any sexual or emotional connection, as well as how things ended, can be the deterring factor if you and your ex can truly be "just friends." If the break-up was mutual then Absolutely you can be friends with your ex, however, if there are still harboring feelings from either person—then no—and do yourself a favor and be honest about this or unnecessary drama can occur.

How do you know if there are unresolved feelings? Unless you are a complete idiot or clueless you will know. There will be flirtatious text messages or phone calls, or maybe when you see your ex there is casual flirting from your ex or possibly with each other. Also if your ex always needs to be there for you—disregarding the relationship you might currently be in—that is usually a big sign. Pay attention.

Here's the thing, if you are both single and you are both wanting to get back together then great, but if you are in a relationship and "act" like you don't notice that your ex is flirting with you or possibly wanting you back—when it's clear to everyone else—(including your significant other) by your exes obvious (disrespectful) flirtatious actions, then having a so called friendship should be avoided. Duh!

Not all exes want to get back together, most have no desire so why not just be friends?

Having an ex as a friend can be beneficial, especially if this person really knows you. If you dated for a while and years have gone by and he/she has resurfaced in your life why not be friends? So often we think that if we are friends with an ex it is perceived as a bad thing, but why? I find it strange that if you dated someone for years and there was no physical or emotional abuse, why aren't you friends? And if you are in another relationship the person you are with should have enough confidence in what you have built together to not be threatened by a friendship you have with an ex.

Respect, respect, respect. You need to respect your current relationship first before the relationship you have with any ex. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that you should stop being friends with an ex just because your current significant other "doesn't like it"—that my friends is controlling. If there is no justifiable reason besides the willingness to control you or their own insecurities or jealousies, then your ex should remain a friend in your life.

So often it can be easy to get rid of someone from your life when a relationship has ended or hasn't worked out. Although I agree that this can be important to do, I also think that you should evaluate who and why—depending on the circumstances and just because someone is labeled an ex, that doesn't mean that should be the only reason. An ex—depending on how long you have dated—can potentially be the one to give you great dating advice if you are single. This person, like your other friends, knows you but in a different way.

I dated a guy for three and a half years. When we first broke up we tried to jump into a friendship only weeks later since we had mutual friends that we had developed through the years of being together. Well, that did not work. There was still unresolved feelings that started to surface from both of us as our "friendship" continued—causing jealousy, fights and anger to flourish. Yikes! I decided that regardless of our mutual friends, I didn't want to be a part of this unhealthy and unrealistic friendship we were hanging onto so I ended the friendship.

Eight years later our paths ended up crossing and there was a different vibe between my ex and I. All old wounds and unresolved emotions had healed and a friendship between us was able to naturally bloom. I have now been friends with my ex for several years and he has been an important person in my life—like all of my close girlfriends are. I completely trust him and his opinion when I have needed advice. There is no sexual tension between us or a wanting get back together. There is a mutual understanding and a new found respect for one another. Whether we are dating, in relationships, have job issues or overall life stuff going on—we encourage each other and speak our truth—like any real friend does. Having him in my life has been a breath of fresh air.

When you are dating someone and they aren't friends with any of their exes this can potentially be a red flag, however if they have only negative things to say about their exes—this is a Huge Red Flag. On the opposite end, if someone is Always hanging out with their ex—this person is around a lot and plans are being broken with you so that they can spend time with an ex—this is not a relationship you want to be in.

Remember, friendships between exes can happen as long as there are boundaries that are set—as with any friendship—and all unresolved romantic or sexual feelings are no longer there. Be open to the possibilities of being friends with an ex one day, you never know, an unexpected meaningful bond could be formed that helps you both throughout life.

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    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 19 months ago

      "In order to be friends—just friends with an ex—there needs to be sufficient time apart—months, possibly years—depending on how long you were together." - Amen!

      Ideally it would be even better if both people have fallen in love with other people as well. The idea of "instant platonic friendships" after being "red hot lovers" is quite unrealistic.

      Generally speaking the person doing the "dumping" or ending the relationship offers "friendship" as a consolation prize with the hope of not being looked at as being the "bad guy".

      The person who got dumped accepts their olive branch while (secretly) hoping for a reconciliation. I often tell those who end relationships:

      "You are the last person who can help someone get over you!"

      You can't get to second base if you insist on keeping one foot on first. Oftentimes these "instant friendships" can lead to misunderstandings and have also been known to slip into "booty call" or "friends with benefits" scenarios. One person believes they're getting back together and the other sees it as a way to fill the gap until the "right" person comes along. Ultimately the one wanting to get back together feels used!

      I'd have to disagree with the notion that if someone is not friends with their exes it's a "red flag". Most people I believe would rather date people who aren't constantly in contact with their exes or doing them favors, meeting for drinks, crying on each other shoulders and the like as "platonic friends" are known to do. Very few guys would be upset if their girlfriend was not friends with her exes.

      In fact it's very common for exes who have a platonic friendship to drift apart once one or both of them fall "in love" with someone who disapproves of them spending so much time together. For a lot of people facing that circumstance it's a no brainer to choose between their "ex" and "the one". They're going to vote for love and the future. Sometimes this hurts exes a second time when such friendships dissolve. However it's understandable.

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