Seven Things To Consider Before Becoming Friends With Your Ex

March 15, 2019 7 min read

After writing about my previous toxic relationship, I wanted to address another issue which is the dreaded “friends with the Ex” monster.

Some people manage to be able to do it wonderfully and end up being better friends than partners, and some are catastrophes of epic proportions. If you’ve found yourself fresh out of something, my first tip is to first give it time with zero contact.


It’s hard to tell what you’re really feeling about someone when all kinds of emotions are clouding your judgement and hindsight might shine a different light on your past experiences. 

You might realise you can’t or won’t tolerate certain behaviours or that you’re actually not that into them, or that it’s been a terrible mistake and you want them back no matter what. Clearing your mind and letting the dust settle before attempting to rekindle any spark of a relationship with your Ex, be it platonic or otherwise is a good strategy.


Afterwards, I recommend asking yourself a few questions first:


1. Was your relationship healthy? Did it end on good terms?


If things ended on bad terms and you caused each other harm, my personal advice is to let go. The baggage of the past can be too heavy to move on from. 

Even though once you’ve broken up you’re no longer responsible for each other’s feelings and friends have different dynamics, you might end up returning to the same roles you had in the past and rewriting history. People don’t change overnight and the personality traits that bothered you when you were together didn’t go anywhere. Be sure to take that into consideration.


If you caused each other harm as partners you might still have a chance at being friends. Some unhealthy relationships end up being toxic for both parties only due to a misfortunate pairing of clashing character traits and not because both parties have bad intentions. 

Two control freaks will drive each other crazy, just as much as two submissive will be unsatisfied because neither of them can take the dominant role properly.

If you genuinely want to be friends with your Ex, I recommend being cautious about it and protecting yourself, but it could also be that what didn’t work in a romantic partnership can elevate you both in a platonic one.                       

2. Do you think there’s a chance you’ll get back together?


If you’re only trying to be in their life to make them see what they're missing and telling them marvellous stories about yourself in the hopes of making them jealous, don’t. This isn’t adult behaviour. It can also get rather obvious and make you seem desperate. If you give it serious thought and think you want them back, ask yourself why.


3. Do you still love them?


Are you really still in love with them? Keep in mind the circumstances that led to the breakup and ask yourself if you’re only missing being with ‘someone’ or is it that you’re suddenly able to see things from their perspective and want to try and resolve the issues that led to the breakup in the first place. The best course of action is to be honest and let them know how you feel.


4. Why do you want to be friends with them?


How one sided is the situation? If you initiated the breakup and they didn’t want it, it might not be the best for them to be friends with you. It might hurt them to see you because they’re not over you yet. 

Do you want them around just because you’re used to them or do you feel you’re actually able to connect on a deeper level now as friends? Will you be able to talk to them about all the subjects you talk about with your friends? Will you need to be careful with what you say because it might upset them?


5. Do you try to one-up them?


If you think you’re both over each other and you’ve been texting and taking and you find that you keep trying to ‘one-up’ each other by telling each other how great you’re doing, how much better your life is now, and top every one of their stories with an even harder-better-faster-stronger story of your own. 

This might mean you’re still harbouring some unsolved issues and it might be a good idea to either take some time apart before you’ll get into a fight or talk openly as friends about what didn’t work before from your new perspective.


6. Do you genuinely wish them happiness?


If you’re able to put aside any hurt feelings from the past and are honestly excited about the prospect of them doing well and being happy and satisfied without you, that’s the best premise in my opinion for a solid base for a friendship.


7. Does the idea of them seeing someone else bother you?


This is the nature progression of things. You’re both free to see other people. You should think about this situation. If it hurts you and you don’t feel ready for it, let them know. Ask them to not bring up the subject until some more time passes and you’re both more convenient in your new roles. 

Ask them if this is something you shouldn’t mention. A new crush can be all you want to talk about, but it might not be in the best interest of your new friendship if it’s still fresh.


Be kind to each other. Consider that they’re not your responsibility anymore, and that even if they really insist on being friends and you don’t want to, you should put your foot down and ask them to step aside, just like you should do the same if they ask for it. 

It’s a lot easier to be friends with people who are romantically incompatible with you than it is to date them, so you might end up being besties. Give it a try if you think you’re ready.



Laura Patrick
« Laura is a freelance writer visual artist and science nerd. She is passionate about self development and personal growth and spends most of her free time reading scientific papers about the human experience and summarising them so that you won't have to. » All posts →