Should you remain friends with your ex after a breakup?

Do you think you should remain friends after a break up?

You’ll get my answer at the end don’t worry. I wonder, do you think it’s wise to remain friends with ex? Or to try to go back to the way things were in a relationship? Is there anything to be gained by maintaining a friendship with a former partner?

As with many questions when it comes to dating, I don’t think there is one right answer. What’s true for you may not be true for me. I don’t believe there is one simple answer that could cover the breadth and width of human relationships. Maybe John and Jane can’t be friends after their breakup because of the infidelity and the lies, but maybe Jack and James can be friends because they parted amicably. Maybe Mary and Susan shouldn’t remain friends because of their contentious battle over who gets to keep the dog, but Linda and Robert can because the split felt like the right thing to do at the time.

So, instead of giving you a direct answer, I’ll give you some tips on how to decide if remaining friends after a break up is a good idea. In the interest of time, let’s break it down to three questions to ask yourself:

How would remaining friends impact moving on?

Consider how trying to remain friends would impact moving on, for you and your former partner. Really think about it. Sometimes people say that they want to maintain a friendship with their ex, and that doing so wont impact their ability to move on, but they’re not being honest with themselves. Don’t let that be you.

One thing to consider is how remaining friends in the short-term will impact moving on. If you decide that being friends wont impact moving on in a negative way, I would still recommend taking some time apart. When you break up with someone, you might feel like nothing has changed if you never have a break from each other.

What’s the impact to your potential dating future?

What would it look like, in a practical sense, for you to maintain a friendship with an ex while you’re dating? Would being friends with your ex make you less likely to date? Would you be able to meet someone new, and tell them about maintaining a friendship with your ex, and think they’d stick around?

It’s not impossible to be friends with an ex and have a viable dating future, but you’d be wrong in thinking that it would be all sunshine and roses. People get generally suspicious when you maintain a relationship with someone you’ve previously had a romantic connection with. Just something to keep in mind

Is friendship what you really want?

Do you want to remain friends, or do you want to avoid losing them? Really ask yourself, is your motivation to keep a friend or to NOT lose them? Are you motivated by platonic affection, or fear of loss?

What you decide is up to you, but consider your answers carefully before you decide what to do.

If you do remain friends, just know that your friendship can never be what it was before you became whatever you were. It might not be a significant change, but it will never be the same. You can build a better friendship after a break up, but it will be different.

All that said, it would probably be safer, from a moving on standpoint at the very least, to not try to maintain a friendship. Think about how hard it can be to build a new friendship, or to maintain an existing friendship without a past romantic entanglement. Now add a romantic past to it. The safe move would be to just make a clean break, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the smart move. Purely depends on your disposition.

One last piece of advice, and my answer to the question of whether you should try to stay friends after a break up:  it might be better to remain friendly rather than pushing to maintain a friendship. Maybe you don’t need time to heal, but they might, and maybe they just don’t realize it. There is a middle ground between cutting someone off completely and being best of friends, and maintaining a friendly connection, with distance, is it.

Good Luck Out There.

Also published on Medium.

One Reply to “Should you remain friends with your ex after a breakup?”

  1. I think it’s situational for sure — for example the one ex I’m friends with is a guy I dated when I was 19 years old and we have a ton of mutual friends/interests, so we still chat. HOWEVER, he’s married and I’m now dating someone and I think you always need to be respectful of those things. As for my ex I lived with & dated for 5 years? We longer communicate. There’s no bad blood, no ill will; I just think it’s best to part ways and move on – although I wish him the best!