I Don’t Like Being Friends with an Ex, so Why Should I?


It seems like it's either a big deal or not one at all

by Stephanie Kaloi, Content Manager

man and woman sitting on couch together

I am one of those people who has always thought that being friends with an ex made sense—after all, you spent a lot of time getting to know that person and caring about them, and in my experience, those feelings don’t simply vanish at the end of the relationship. I’ve also been relatively lucky: I only have two exes that were on the awful side of things, and neither of those relationships lasted very long. I also got married pretty young (twenty-two), so the exes I do have weren’t incredibly serious relationships to begin with, which might make those guys much easier to be friends with. I’m genuinely happy to see their photos on Facebook, follow their travel adventures on Instagram, and offer sincere congrats when they get new jobs, have a kid, or adopt an animal. My husband knows I’m friends with these guys and isn’t bothered by it—because there’s nothing to be bothered about. I mean, I’m even friends with two of my husband’s exes whom I genuinely consider to be really cool people—we trade non-flippant parenting advice and we’ve had meaningful conversations over the years. I could easily hang out with all of my exes at once and have a great time, and I’m equally certain I could sit down with my husband’s exes and have a blast.

However, I get that my way isn’t the best way—and I know that in the general scheme of things, I’m lucky to have exes that are healthy humans to be around. In fact, we recently received this reader email from someone coming from exactly the opposite point of view on the subject:

There is a pervasive idea floating out there that one must stay friends with one’s exes… but I don’t get why this is such a thing these days. I get that there are some very lucky people who manage to separate amicably, who truly harbor no ill will, and who wish the best for one another—and I even have a few exes I classify as such. However, in my experience, they are the exception and not the rule.

My most recent relationship didn’t end well. I don’t blame him entirely, but by the time I pulled it together and broke off our relationship, I was a shell of my former self. Now that I’ve found that person who appreciates me and all I have to offer, I’ve spent ample time trying not to be triggered by the baggage left from the (what I’ve recently found the courage to identify as) emotional abuse my ex heaped on me for the majority of our relationship. Most of my friends chose my ex when we split, and I don’t blame them—he’s easier to like, until you really need him for something—and I keep myself from going to group events when I know he’ll be there. Sure, I could be polite, but I don’t want him to cast his shadow on me. I don’t want to do small talk.

I don’t want to be his friend.

People don’t usually end relationships because they got along so well during them—so why is there this idea that two people should magically get along well afterward? Yes, it would be nice if everyone everywhere could get along all the time, but then we’d have to agree on what “getting along” entails, and we seem to have a hard enough time just learning to respect one another’s differences.

Why does anyone want to still be friends with someone they’re no longer involved with?

What about you: are you into being friends with an ex? What works for those friendships, and what doesn’t? Do you and your current partner have rules about interactions with exes?

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! 😊 🎉 🎉).

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  • CMT

    I’m still friends with men I dated for short periods of time and not seriously. I am not friends with either of the guys I had longer, serious relationships with. In my case, the long-term, serious relationships ended because of serious problems, which preclude friendship. The relationships were serious enough that if the problems hadn’t been that bad, the relationship wouldn’t have ended. The other, shorter relationships ended because of opposite schedules or lack of romantic chemistry, or other things like that. I didn’t leave those relationships because of strongly negative reasons. I have plenty of friends; I do not miss having my two ex-boyfriends in my life at all.

    • Roselyne

      This. Exactly this.

      I find that once serious emotions got involved, the reasons for the breakup/the breakup itself precluded friendship. I’m not friends with Abusive Ex-Douchebag (for obvious reasons), nor am I friends with the guy whose heart I completely broke by breaking up with him (I tried to be as ethical and fair and whatnot as I could, but he just… didn’t wanna break up, and I didn’t wanna be with him, and there’s no good way to end that, really). I AM friends with people who were friends first, who I dated for a while, and who broke things off casually while remaining friends.

      Meanwhile, my husband’s first girlfriend (my best friend at the time – 15 years ago, and my husband and I have been together for 8 years, for the record) still walks across the street to avoid talking to him when they cross on the sidewalk. She absolutely has the right to handle herself however she wants, but… 15 years after a 9-month teenage relationship, it just seems more drama-full than necessary.

      • Yeah…that’s a bit unusual with the 15 years post teenage break up crossing the street thing. Maybe something else went down (either externally, or internally for her) that causes this response.

        • Eh

          Ya, you never know. I actively avoid a guy a broke up with 15 years ago in high school but he was abusive.

          • Lisa

            Same here. I still have my abusive high school boyfriend blocked on all social media because I do not want have to deal with him randomly popping up in my life. (Not an unreasonable expectation when I originally got FB either. He had a tendency to create new AIM accounts to get around my blocked settings back in the day.)

            ETA: This is not to say that Roselyne’s partner is anything like this. I agree with byov that the ex-girlfriend has something else going on here.

          • Eh

            “I agree with byov that the ex-girlfriend has something else going on here.” – Yep! I meant to add to my comment above that many people who are friends with both of us don’t know about the abuse and think he’s a great guy so they would find it extreme that I avoid him 15 years out (e.g., “It was high school” or “that was a long time ago”). Again, not saying that Roselyne’s partner was abusive or anything like that.

            As for my abusive ex – he finds his way around things when I block him on FB. Every year or so I get an FB message or friend request from him and I have to block him all over again. Sometimes it’s because FB changes it’s settings and other times he opens another account. He still asks mutual friends about me so I have had to cut them off. I wouldn’t have expected that he’d find me on FB since when I joined you could only join if you went to university/college and he didn’t.

        • Jess

          I had a pretty intense emotional breakdown toward the end of a relationship. I am *still* ashamed of how I acted and am definitely not going to talk to him again unless fate brings me in contact.

          He’s a really great guy, and I wish him the best, but I do not want to have to face that.

  • Carolyn S

    I mostly just don’t understand people who have so much friend-time that they want to share some of that precious time with an ex. I’d rather see my girlfriends who I never get to see because we are in our 30’s and have busy jobs, spouses and kids, or just hang out with the person I married instead of the ones I didn’t. I get it when you are young and have big friend groups that hang out all of the time, or have kids. Maybe people just use the word “friend” more loosely than I do. I don’t think you need to exile someone, but I don’t understand allocating them much emotional and physical energy.

    • Amy March

      Yeah I think we probably are using “friend” differently! Meeting up with someone every six months for drinks and interacting at events we are both invited to is two things for me: 1) that counts as a friend! absolutely! not my closest friend or someone I allocate much emotional or physical energy to, but a friend for sure; and 2) I have quite a bit of friend time available! I’m not married and don’t have kids, even though I’m in my 30s, so I find I have plenty of time to maintain friendships with lots of people, including exes, at a low key level.

      • Lisa

        I think this is an important distinction. I feel like defining the layers of friendship becomes increasingly difficult over the years. There are people who I would call a friend who know my whole past and have been around for years, and there are also people with whom I’m “friends” on social media. I’m going to lean more on the first group, and those friends are closer to my inner circle. However, if I’m in the city of one of the friends from the latter group or have an issue that might benefit from their knowledge, I wouldn’t hesitate to call on them. My exes with whom I still have contact fall into that latter category.

  • honeycomehome

    IS there a “persuasive idea floating out there that one must stay friends with one exes”? This is probably the first time I’ve heard that suggestion.

    Also, if someone has been abusive to you, YOU ARE DEFINITELY NOT REQUIRED OR EXPECTED TO BE HIS FRIEND. And if you have people who think you should, I warmly encourage you to tell those people to back the F off.

    • Yeah, I don’t know very many people who consider *any* ex to still be a friend. But then, we’re a fairly mobile circle of people, and the moving really helps cut these ties.

    • Kelly

      Haven’t given it too much thought before this thread but I could see it playing into the Cool Girl trope. Like Cool Girls aren’t emotionally vulnerable enough to get hurt by the ending of a relationship, and should have no problem emotionally with interacting with an ex.

    • Annie

      Kind of like the writer noted, I think it also really, really has to do with mutual friends’ expectations that break-ups shouldn’t mess with the harmony of the group.

      I haven’t lived near my core friends in years and they don’t live near each other, so I’ve have felt no pressure to remain friends with my college boyfriend, since we all went our separate ways.

      But my husband and I have to socialize with his high school girlfriend fairly regularly because we recently moved back to his hometown and his closest friends from that period are still friendly with her. She was terrible to him (not abusive) so it makes him a bit uncomfortable, but his friends basically take the perspective of, “You were literally *children* when you dated, get over it/she’s fine now” which is honestly hard to argue.

    • spinning2heads

      This!!!!

  • Eenie

    This is such a good question! I stayed friends with one ex for almost six years, and we really only drifted apart due to the distance. We had a lot in common (one of the reasons we dated in the first place), the relationship was shorter (6 months), and there wasn’t a huge emotional blowout that ended the relationship (wanted different things at the time). I was friends with his sister and we already all knew each others histories so talking about stuff is easier sometimes without giving all the background. This is the only ex I’ve remained friends with. Most of the others either ended up being ass holes or were emotionally abusive. I’m not into being friends with those kinds of people. If I’d had another “friendly” breakup I may have more exes as friends! But that isn’t to say you have to be. I would have preferred exes that were decent enough human beings that I wanted to remain friends with them afterwards.

  • savannnah

    Exes are not all created equal. There is the guy who you dated for 2 years in college who you knew in high school and remains a near and dear good old friend who still visits your parents when they are back in town- and then there is the guy you dated after college for a year who was terrible for you and all your friends hated and would be bad to have back in your adult life due to that unsustainable unexplainable magnetic attraction that makes you question if your marriage has the flames to last. Only one of these exes gets to be friends.

    • Sara

      Does the ex who visits your parents still get to be your friend and visit your parents when you get a new partner? I am in the opposite situation where my fiance has a bunch of exes, and have gone through hell internally when they were still trying to be close to his family. It’s fine now and they have backed off – but it was insulting, and to me, inappropriate. It was even more hurtful because he seemed to think it was normal his ex(es) wanted to stay in contact with his family. Ugh. This whole thing almost sent me into therapy.

      • savannnah

        I think context is key. For me, that relationship was over 10 years ago and we went to elementary school together. For my parents, it would have been more bizarre to cut him out of their lives than not, even after the breakup. I think the idea that is it hurtful also depends on context and who the exes are, if they are doing it in a malicious way or not.

    • Alyson

      It’s eerie how well this describes my situation, minus the part about the inexplicable magnetic attraction.

  • Amy March

    I’ve gone both ways. Serious relationship, ended because we just weren’t working romantically and didn’t share the same life goals, still friendly (talk from time to time, text, see each other at events, get together every 6 months or so for a drink). And the total opposite, serious relationship, ended traumatically, have never ever ever spoken again and would turn and walk away if I saw him.

    For me, the friends relationship works because its more friendly than friends. He isn’t a source of emotional support or anything, and occupies the same position in my life as anyone I went to school with, remember fondly, and see occasionally. As a boyfriend, he was kinda the worst. But as someone I don’t need to be important, he’s kinda fun.

    With the other relationship I would never ever ever because I think he treated me poorly and we have a fundamental difference in values. I have no interest in maintaining any sort of relationship with him.

  • I tried to be friends with an ex who I dated for ~1.5 years in college. 7 months after attempting to be friends, he exploded in a drunken, jealous rage about my 5 month long-distance relationship at the time. Fool me once…I’m done with that nonsense.

    • JenC

      I only have one ex but he tried pulling this shit too! After we broke up, we decided to stay friends and I started dating my now-husband shortly after. At the beginning he was rather supportive of me going on a date and fooled me into thinking the friendship thing might work. When it started getting serious with my now-husband (or at least appeared serious to the outside world, it was already pretty serious for us), he started acting jealous. We happened to be in the same bar and I kissed my now-husband goodbye and the ex flipped out and texted me the next day saying I was gloating and he didn’t know how he thought I could treat a friend like that. We still stayed friends but after about 6/7 months, my ex is in a mood about something and tells me the problem is me and that he’s still in love with me. At which point I told him to get out of my life and stay out (he couldn’t say he loved me when we were together but nearly a year after we broke up he still loves me, because clearly he’s an ass-hat). He managed to stay out of my life for a little while but a couple of years ago he started messaging me through Facebook, hoping to stay in touch. By then enough time had passed that I was able to exchange messages every few months but we were never friends again, the messages were always initiated by him. Funnily enough, as soon as he got engaged all contact pretty much stopped, so obviously I’m no longer needed as a “reserve”.

      • Ugh. Ass hats.

      • toomanybooks

        Don’t you just love when a guy friend basically stops hanging out with you when he gets a girlfriend and then you’re like, “oh, so that was why he was so nice to me”

        • JenC

          But do they honestly think we don’t see through it? Although to be fair, girls do it too. My husband’s “friend” who he had a crushing-on-each-other-timing-wrong-too-good-friends thing with started dating one of his friends when we started dating. She then broke up with the friend and proceeded to text Mr JenC saying “I wish we could hang out together more”, “I miss you, you were such an important part of my life”. And Mr JenC told her they were either friends full time regardless of her love life or none of the time regardless of her love life. Also he wasn’t breaking up with me so it would just be friends. She chose none of the time but then forgets that when she thinks he can now do tax stuff for her (he’s a tax accountant).

    • AP

      Ugh, I hate this. A few years ago when my husband and I met, we knew it was for real pretty quickly (like within the first few dates.) As soon as we decided to be exclusive, I broke things off with a guy I’d been texting with for a few weeks (he was a fix-up who was about to move to my area and was trying to make some new friends.) I only felt meh about him and we had tentative plans to go on a date once he moved to town. But before that could happen, I met my husband. So I had the uncomfortable talk with the other dude and told him I wasn’t interested in him romantically, but we had a ton of mutual friends and would see each other around, so it seemed like we could be friends. He was hurt at first, but then everything seemed fine. Fast forward to a few months ago (3 years later!) my husband and I are married. My husband was out of town, and I went alone to a party where out of nowhere, this dude gets drunk and corners me, telling me how mad he was when I told him I didn’t want to go out with him and how I shouldn’t have flirted with him if I never intended to date him. He made me listen about how I led him on and how disappointed he was, but now that he had a girlfriend he could finally be happy for me. Talk about entitled!! I left the party and have avoided him ever since. I don’t have a great track record for friendship with exes, and I’m not too worried about changing that.

  • Eh

    I have a policy that I do not remain friends with my exes. Most of my relationships have ended because things weren’t working out between us (e.g., not clicking). Only one relationship ended because of serious issues (and I actively avoid him). There is a reason you broke up so there should be no pressure to remain friends, especially if you don’t want to, and you don’t need to justify it. I am FB friends with two exes. One I was friends with before we ever dated and we only dated for a short period of time. We don’t hang out or talk or anything but it’s nice to see each other’s posts (similar to my FB relationship with many people I was friends with in high school). The other I dated for over 5 years and we have a lot of mutual friends and run into each other a few times a year. We don’t hang out but we are friendly when we see each other. If I saw most of my other exes in public I would be friendly but I have no interest in being friends.

  • Her Lindsayship

    It definitely sounds like the email author is feeling some social pressure and extrapolating to a general trend, but for real – you seriously don’t have to be friends with ANYONE you don’t want to be friends with. There are some people you usually should try to make time for and try to get along with, like your family or your partner’s people, but even with them you don’t have to be their friend. And you definitely don’t have to be friends with your ex. If your other friends are still friends with your emotionally abusive ex, they don’t sound like great friends. Congrats to you, email author, for getting out of an awful situation, and for staying out of it by avoiding that whole crowd.

    For the record, I’m not friends with any exes myself. Have one that’s still on social network radar, but we don’t actually communicate at all. The others are out of my life, they were unhealthy relationships for different reasons, and I hope they’re doing well but I really don’t care to know.

  • laddibugg

    I can go both ways—I’m not pressed to keep someone my friend, nor am I wholesale against being friends after a break-up.

    I just checked my Facebook and there are 5 guys up there who I dated for a decent (more than a month) amount of time. At this point, I could probably be friends with the ex that broke my heart (it’s been 10 years), but at the time, had Facebook been around, I probably would have defriended and blocked him.

    Before we had our kid, I wondered if I could be friends with my fiancee since we were friends first and still share tons of mutual friends. Now that we’re parents, I think we owe it to our son to give friendship a shot if our relationship goes south. (barring any sort of violent or harmful behavior on either of our parts).

    • Lisa

      One of my friends growing up had parents who were divorced, and they had a very happy friendship. I remember they even went to concerts together with their new spouses sometimes, and whenever my friend was celebrating something, all four parents/stepparents would hang out in the kitchen and talk. I don’t know if they’re all as close now that the kids are pretty much out of the picture, but it was nice to see that, even though their romantic relationship didn’t work, they were able to be friendly and a parenting team.

  • Kay

    “Ex” is one word that describes many situations. In my experience I’ve found that the exes with whom the relationship ended due to logistics (different life goals, bad timing, long-distance that didn’t work out) are easier and even enjoyable to be friends with – after all, there was a reason we dated in the first place, and we still liked each other as people even when we weren’t romantically involved. When the relationship ended because of personal conflict, poor treatment, or anything even approaching abuse, I avoided those exes and would not want to be friends with them. They share the same title but that does not mean they are the same, or have the same relationship with me post-break up.

    • G.

      This plus Amy March’s comment above about definitions, of exes and of friends, are really important — staying/transforming into friends depends both on the person and the context. I have exes I’m absolutely uninterested in encountering, either because of who they turned out to be or how things ended, exes I’m friendly but ambivalent toward, and exes with whom I’m friends — b/c they’re great people and things ended amicably and I genuinely enjoy time with them, wish them well, and want to know how things are going. I don’t think there’s a blanket way to approach exes, its so tied to circumstance and details. The only hard and fast rule in my book is consider the circumstances, decide thoughtfully, and recalibrate as necessary.

      • gonzalesbeach

        my exes are friendlies. not friends. I might wave to them on the street, say happy new year, see them at a party and small talk a couple minutes. I would not call them up to help me plan my cat’s birthday party or get together on a rare free Saturday to eat rainbow pride doughnuts and dish about period panties, birth control options, renovations, and work challenges (true story, best day ever). I only do that with real friends. real friends get doughnuts.

        • CommaChick

          I want a mug that says “real friends get doughnuts.”

  • Antonia
    • That article was interesting. I think for some people it also has to do with impression management (and/or personal affirmation): it supports the idea that they can’t have been too bad of a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse because they’re still friends with their ex…which may or may not be accurate…

  • Jessica

    I’ve always been firmly in the “nuh-uh, not friends” camp. I think it stems from protecting myself and wanting a clean break. I recently re-became friends with my first boyfriend, and I’m genuinely happy that we see each other at stuff. His wife is really rad.
    BUT.
    We dated for a short time when we were teenagers. We had a rocky friend group in high school. We were all terrible to one another, and are only now coming together to talk about the damage we did to one another. It’s kind of a healing process. It’s not one I want (or am just not ready for) with my college boyfriend, or my other high school boyfriend who was emotionally abusive. It is all dependent on the people, the circumstances, and the ability to move on after confronting the past.

  • cpostrophe

    I have some ex’s that were friends before we were in a relationship and had stayed friends after we broke up. Four of them are attending the wedding. However, three super important points about those friendships:

    a) we were legit friends who were a part of each other’s social sphere.

    b) we always went through a period of no-contact breakup recovery before deciding to resume the friendship and in many ways treated the friendship as a new thing in its own right

    c) we treated each other decently before, during, and after the breakup. Even if we got upset with each other during the relationship, it was never anything abusive, and we always found a way to forgive each other.

    People that I dated who I met online or through some other form happenstance usually don’t wind up being friends because those relationships usually didn’t last long enough for us to be integrated with the other’s community. Also ditto for younger relationships where I or my partner did something truly hurtful before either of us knew how to be responsible for our own actions. I don’t mourn those lost friendships. I’m glad for the ones that I have, and I encourage people to be open to the idea of staying friends with your ex, but I don’t insist on it, and I always recommend giving yourself space and time to treat the friendship as a separate thing on the continuum of our relationship with that person.

    • toomanybooks

      B) is important. There’s a period of time after a breakup where if you do want to see the other person it’s probably for the wrong reasons.

  • Elizabeth

    Not being able to maintain a friendship after breaking up is a large part of the reason I only dated a friend once. It cost me the friendship, and I had valued the friendship of seven years more than the dating of six months, but it still made things unbearably difficult and awkward.

    • Lisa

      Yeah, I had a similar issue with the first friend that I dated. We had an awful falling out, and we’re not even friends on Facebook anymore. However, my husband and I were friends for a year before we started dating. I was hesitant to try it again but eventually agreed to go out with him. It seems to have worked out so far!

  • Anon

    I’ve decided for myself that it’s okay if the sadness and awkwardness of the end of a serious relationship overshadows the any wish we might have had to stay friendly. It’s sad, but my experience is that dating often fundamentally changes the relationship so much that it just can’t go back.

  • PW

    Feel like I’m in a minority here, but I did it. My ex and I agreed to take as much time as we needed, but three years on, I’ve been a guest at his wedding, and he will be a guest at mine later this year.

    We were together for half a decade, and it just ran its course – we each changed in different ways over that time. I’d have grieved for a lot longer at the end of our relationship if I knew I was losing our friendship too.

  • Sara

    Oooh, LW. I feel you. I have a few exes and they are across the spectrum – a couple ended horribly, a couple ended amicably. Regardless, I do not stay in touch with any of them and this has been the best for me. Deleting numbers, defriending, separating our lives is, to me, the best way for both parties to fully move on in the healthiest way. I have never understood people being friends with exes, but my fiance is friends with all of his (and I am friends with some of them now), so it is something I have had to accept. It was not easy, and I still wish it wasn’t this way – I wish all these women my fiance has slept with were not constantly around. I’ve come to the conclusion that I love him more than I hate them being in his life, but sometimes I wish they would all just move away… and I think about how “unfair” it is that I have to deal with ALL of his exes and he doesn’t have to deal with ANY of mine. I wish he had been like me and cut off contact. But here we are.

  • toomanybooks

    Noooooope. Scorched earth policy. Maybe if I run into someone like minimum 5 years later and they weren’t horrible. But I like to have very clear cut boundaries of who is a friend and who is romantic, any boundary blurring has only led to trouble for me. That includes exes, I don’t have any that I feel the need to hang out with. Maybe because we’re “exes” due to things not being good between us.

    Also, note for people who are friends with exes: maybe don’t bring your current partner to a gathering full of your exes who think it’s really cool to talk about how they used to sleep with you.

  • Wanda

    I’m pondering this issue, but it’s with regards to my SO’s sister… she continues to be friends with an ex-girlfriend of his. Granted, she’s who introduced them, so it’s a complicated situation. I’ve never met the ex, but I’m feeling her presence in a hurtful way at some gatherings. The sister’s friends seem to resent me, and she’s holding me at arm’s length, probably to save ex’s feelings. It really just makes me feel like I’ve been dropped in the middle of a situation that I have no context for and being punished for something I didn’t do. :( How do I try to forge a relationship with his sister? The ex seems to be trying extra hard to insert herself into the sister’s life lately, especially via social media, where she knows I’ll see it (I’m not friends with her via any media, but we have friends in common). How do I rise above and focus on my relationship with my SO and his family???

    With regards to the article above, I feel like sister should value her family’s feelings more than her friend’s and drop the friend! Is that crazy and unreasonable?

  • Alyson

    I definitely think that it shouldn’t be about whether you “should” or “should not” be friends with exes as a group. You take it on a case by case basis, and definitely don’t force the friend thing because you feel like you “should.” And remaining friends with an ex doesn’t make you more mature than people who aren’t.

    I do have a friend who falls very distinctly into the group of people who want to stay friends with her exes, which is fine. The problem comes when her ex does not want to be friends with her. It’s not that she gets upset, but she has a hard time understanding why a guy can’t “handle” it. I don’t recommend that view point.

  • ladyjanegreysanatomy

    No one has really mentioned this, but it’s been my experience that many queers maintain closer relationships with exes than straight analogues would. We often end up friends with exes and dating our friends exes because frankly the dating pool is smaller. This is not to say that queers don’t experience jealousy and ex drama, but often you just have to get over it or you will end up never having any friends or never being able to date anyone because everyone has dated at least one of your friends. Eventually you learn how to deal with that stuff. Similarly, I know at least a few who actually became/stayed close friends after their break-ups (including two of my close friends). This doesn’t happen overnight and requires a willingness to talk about feelings that is stereotypically only found in lesbians, but it is possible.

    That said, I’ve never stayed more than distant friends with exes, and my last relationship prior to my current partner ended in fiery flames of awful. Trying to stay friends with that one was a very unhealthy endeavour which I finally abandoned. It still took a really long time to stop having them show up unannounced in my world though, even in a large city, because queer communities are like that.

  • Meg

    I think the editor is right that people you date when you were younger are easier to be friends with after than people you dated when you were older. Stakes were lower and obviously more water has gone under the bridge.

  • Stephanie Strobel

    I agree you can be friends with some exes but not others. Two prior boyfriends had very different values and life goals than I did.As a result, I did not want to be friends with either of them. Also, both former partners had trouble respecting boundaries. One wanted to re-start a relationship after his current one was failing. He spent the entire time dumping on me about his girlfriend issues when I was for many reasons, not doing well in my life. Anyway, I did not want this ex in my life because he had no idea how to be the kind of friend I needed and clearly, was only concerned about his needs. The other ex I treated me as an option because he was focused only on his mother’s needs. Furthermore, this individual had character flaws- he violated laws and had no desire to be or do anything in life other than a rich person. Again, this person had values which were very different from mine and after the relationship ended and I sent a few texts explaining why I needed to end the relationship, I never contacted him again.

    One ex I was very good friends with after the relationship ended. He and I were life long friends but then he died of heart failure. What separated this break up from the others had everything to do with shared interests, goals, values and genuine respect for each other’s boundaries, needs and feelings. If you actually like the person you dated and they bring joy into your life by being themselves, that is a good sign. If you can be yourself around them and don’t have to put on a show, it is likely you can be friends with this person post break up. It also matters how the break up occurred. If the break up was not mutual, some distance a part is needed to help with healing. You can always try and have a friendship later. Mutual break ups lead to friendships a lot quicker assuming you have common interests, needs and values.

    I have noticed with the two exes I did not want to be friends with, both were very traditional oriented men and very intellectually oriented. Basically, I dated them because I was broken inside myself. I wanted to be accepted by these people but not authentically. I wanted validation that I was a smart person and could fit in with the club. I also did not want to let others know I am very dominant and non-traditional, again, because I so badly wanted to be accepted. I played a role in these failed relationships because I had to grow and realize, I am not an intellectual, a traditional family oriented person, or someone who has main stream values regarding work. I had to work on myself for a while and realize, it is OK to say, you are not for traditional gender roles, you do not value traditional family arrangements, you do not want an ambitious career, and you do not value higher education. Once I started to accept myself for who I really am and what I really value, it became easier to be attracted to the right kinds of guys. Some of these relationships have also failed, but a larger proportion of them at least turn into friendships because they are all non traditional, non conformist types like myself.

    Exes that make you feel like crap about yourself or those where you are too uncomfortable to share your real self with, are exes you can not and should not be friends with.

    Best,

    S.

  • mssolo

    I’m broadly on side of being friends with exes as long as the relationship wasn’t abusive and didn’t end with a massive betrayal of trust, but sometimes the reason a relationship didn’t work out is the same reasons a friendship wouldn’t either.

    My first serious boyfriend and I had already agreed to be roommates for our second year of uni before we started dating, and we split up while we were still living together. We remained friendly for a long time, even once it wasn’t required to maintain a healthy household, because almost all of our friends were mutual. But actually, as time passed, it grew increasingly apparent we just had nothing in common apart from physical attraction. He wanted a Cool Girl, and I was trying to be a that for him – listening to his Indie music, watching his indie documentaries, learning about cars and bikes and trying to take camping seriously (I love camping, but for fun, not for serious business!) – I have never been and never will be Cool, let alone the Cool Girl. When I stopped trying to be a Cool Girl, for him and everyone else, I drifted away from that group of people in general. I’m still in touch with a few of them, but in the sort of way where you say hi in the street, or when an out of town friend visits and you all meet up in a bar to say hi.

    My other ex I’m still friends with because we do have a lot in common, but the attraction was onesided. We broke up because we got on just fine, but nothing more than that. Once he settled into a serious relationship with someone else, it became easier to geek out together again.