You’re officially broken up, and your ex wants to be friends. Or maybe you’re the one requesting friendship. Either way, the idea of not having your significant other in your life feels impossible. You can hardly remember life before them. And, why shouldn’t you be able to be friends with your ex? You’ve loved each other, or you used to anyway. You have loads of memories only they share. They were the most important person in your life. Why shouldn’t you be able to keep each other around?
There’s a chance, somewhere down the road, you and your ex may be able to have a normal functioning friendship. But for now, in this fresh, post-breakup state you’re in, trying to be friends will likely demolish any chance you have down the road.
Here are 10 Reasons Why You SHOULD NOT be
Friends with Your Ex:
1. One or both of you is unwilling to let go.
You’re hoping friendship might keep you from having to experience the void of not having them in your life. In other words, it’s a play to keep you from feeling the loss and healing the pain of losing them. Trying to avoid your grieving process isn’t going to help anyone. Especially not if you’d like to break the cycle of shitty relationships. You need space and time to heal properly.
2. You Need Time to Redefine Who You are Without Your Ex.
Give yourself a chance to break the old habits of being a couple. You were the biggest part of each other's lives. You likely were the main source of entertainment for the other. You were used to coming home to them after long days at work. You went and did things together that you’re now faced with doing alone. I know how scary this can be, but if you want to become a stronger version of yourself through this process, you’ve got to go through this.
3. There are Reasons you Broke up
If your ex wasn’t healthy for you as a significant other, ask yourself why they’re healthy for you as a friend. If they hurt you or treated you poorly, does it make them friend material?
4. “friends with benefits” is a Myth and Recipe for Disaster.
If you think you can go out and hang with your ex, have a good time like normal friends, share a few drinks, and not eventually end up back in bed, you’re fooling yourself. That is an emotional minefield. Don’t put yourself in a position to end up back in bed with your ex.
5. One of You is Hoping You’ll Eventually Get Back Together.
It is highly likely that one of you will continue secretly hoping to get back together. That isn’t friendship. It’s unhealthy and will prolong your suffering.
6. You’ll Hold Each Other to Different Standards.
Inevitably, someone’s feelings are bound to get hurt. If you’re hanging out with a friend, and they get a text or call while you’re together, you’re likely not feeling anything about the fact that they answer it. But if it were your ex, you immediately start wondering who is contacting them and why. It snowballs into you making up scenarios in your mind about what’s going on, and suddenly you’re pissed off and sad. That's not friendship.
7. It will Make it Difficult to Move on.
When you’re still holding space for your ex, you’re keeping yourself unavailable to meet someone new. Give yourself a chance to find the relationship you deserve, and let your ex go.
8. It will Make the Void You're Feeling Worse.
The way the friendship makes you feel, won’t fill the void of the loss of your romantic relationship. Say you’re hanging out, and something funny happens that brings up a memory, and you start laughing like, “omg, remember that time we were on vacation and…” queue the sadness at the fact that reminiscing about funny times while you were a couple feels awkward and now you feel like shit. There are too many inside jokes, nicknames, pillow talk moments, and memories only the two of you share. This may seem like a good reason to be friends, but in fact, it’s the total opposite. It’s going to make having a true friendship, nearly impossible.
9. Your Feelings don’t Function like a Light Switch.
You can’t just decide to switch them off and pretend you weren’t/aren’t in love anymore. If your ex is putting pressure on you to get over it and be friends with them, don’t. Your inability to be friends is not a reflection of anything other than your emotional intelligence. Just because your friend wants to be friends, doesn’t mean you have to want the same thing. It’s acceptable to tell them no, or not now, and leave it at that.
10. Being Friends won't Provide any “Closure.”
The only person who can give you closure is you. If you’re holding onto the idea of friendship because you’re hoping it will answer all the questions you have about why you broke up, you’re not going to accomplish anything but self-torture. Your questions won’t lead to satisfactory answers. The only thing they’ll lead to are more questions. Do yourself a favor and stop searching for your ex to say some magical words that will make it all okay again. The words don’t exist.
if you’re still hellbent on trying to make a friendship work, examine your motives closely. It’s imperative, to be honest with yourself about why you’re keeping the door open. If you’re going to do it, at least know why you’re doing it.
Are you trying to avoid grieving?
Are you hoping for reconciliation?
Are you searching for closure?
Are you wanting to continue benefiting from them without having any responsibility?
"Can We Be Friends" Litmus Test:
I tell my clients who insist they eventually want to be friends with their exes, to follow this rule when judging whether or not friendship is healthy…
Are you 100% okay seeing your ex in a new relationship? If you are truly happy for them, the same as you would be for any other friend who has found true love, then perhaps you are ready to be friends.
However, if you get even a tinge of hostility, jealousy, or sadness about it — YOU’RE NOT READY. Real friends want each other to be happy. If you couldn’t attend their wedding, you’re not friends.
If you’re STILL NOT CONVINCED that friendship isn’t a good idea...
Recent studies are showing that the desire to remain friends with your ex means you might be narcissist or sociopath. A study out of Oakland University showed that people who remain, friends, post-breakup showed, “Dark Triad” traits which include, narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism. Sounds awesome, right?
Trust science or not, being friends with your ex is like setting yourself on fire and expecting you won’t get burned.
The only person you need to take care of post-breakup is you. You don’t owe your ex anything, especially not your friendship. If you’re reading this, and you’re the one demanding friendship from your ex, STOP. They don’t owe you anything!
Give each other a chance to heal and completely move on. Set boundaries. Stick to your Golden Rule of NO CONTACT and give yourself the space to find yourself again. Take this time to learn who you are, do things your ex never wanted to do. lean into your newly found freedom, even if it came to you unexpectedly.
This can be one of the most transformative times of your life if you allow it to be. And one of the single best ways to ruin it is to busy yourself trying to make a friendship with your ex-work.