Good Idea, Bad Idea: Being Friends With Your Ex

Most people reckon that becoming friends with your ex is an impossible task. There's no upside. You broke up for a reason and you don't want them in your life anymore, right? I'm not saying that every breakup could end in friendship, but some can if that's really what both parties want. Only if both of you are on the same page, though. Letting go of the past can and will help you move on to a new and better romantic relationship. However, there are some factors that will influence whether or not being friends with your ex would be a good idea or a bad idea....

Why Did You Break Up?


This is crucial and it needs to be assessed if you have any hopes of ever building a solid friendship with your ex. If you had a messy or toxic relationship, it's very unlikely that you could be friends as the toxicity would feed into your friendship. If one or the both of you cheated, it's unlikely you'll ever be able to trust each other again, even if you do forgive each other and the likelihood of forging a legitimate friendship amidst the wreckage is very slim. Don’t get me wrong, the power of time and its ability to heal all wounds should never be underestimated, but ending things as friends instead of mortal enemies makes the transition a whole lot easier. If you broke up because you fell out of love with them, or for some other mutual reason, then this increases your chances of becoming best buds or at least friends.

Are You Over Them/Are They Over You?



There's no point even attempting to become friends with your ex if one or the both of you still has lingering feelings for the other. It's just a recipe for devastation because eventually one of you will get a new partner and if so, the other will just be mad with envy. It will just end in arguments and a break up of your friendship. Your lingering feelings will prevent you from moving on with your life. In order to become friends with an ex you need to give yourself enough time to move on. You can't expect to be bosom buds straight away. After you break up, you both need to take a break from each other. You need to not talk to them every day, and not check their social media accounts and definitely not meet up for coffee. Not until you've moved on. Otherwise, you're just inviting drama and frustration into your lives, and you don't need that and shouldn't want it.

Do Not Have Sex With Them


Sex makes everything more complicated. It might be possible for friends to sleep with each other and for it to be no big deal, but when you used to be in a relationship, it makes everything more difficult. It might become impossible for you to understand how you are feeling. Sex will release a happy hormone in your brain that will trick you into thinking that you want to get back with your ex, regardless of whether or not your relationship worked. If you’re still sexually attracted to each other, fuggedaboutit. A friendship won’t work.

Maintain Boundaries



I'm not saying that you need to sit down and write out specific rules for you to follow because that would be ridiculous. Life can't accommodate a rule-book. However, for your own sake, if something comes up that you don't feel comfortable discussing, like your ex's love life, say so and change the topic. You should avoid giving and receiving relationship advice until both of you are comfortable with the other dating people other than them. Once you're okay with the idea of seeing each other with other people, everything else will fall into place. That is by far, the greatest emotional hurdle to get over in your quest for friendship. Don't bring up old arguments that you never fully resolved, because you'll just end up in a massive argument that neither of you will win. If it caused you to break up before, it might cause you to lose a friend now.

It's Not Easy


I can't say that I'm best friends with any of my exes because I know we just don't work as friends so it's not going to happen. It's unfortunate, but if you want to be friends - with no hidden romantic notions - then it could be one of the best friendships you ever have. If you care about someone enough, just because you didn’t work out as a couple, it doesn’t mean you won’t work out as friends. It’s up to you to identify the reasons you were with this person in the first place and determine whether or not they will transition into a new relationship, one that has the potential to be more fulfilling than your romantic relationship ever was.

Orlaith Costello
Article written by
Orlaith is a Creative Writing graduate from NUI Galway. Hailing from the low lying fields of Athenry, or at least what’s left of the low lying fields. She enjoys the internet as a means of living vicariously through others from the safe confines of her own bed. She will initiate a dance off after at least two drinks on any given night out.
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