People Explain Exactly How They Were Able To Stay Friends With Their Exes

by Candice Jalili

My parents have been divorced for 21 years now.

Since then, I don't think they've gone more than 48 hours without speaking to each other.

Not only did they remain friends after getting divorced, but they actually would go so far as to call each other their best friends. The concept always seemed pretty natural to me since I was raised by them, but as I got older, it became more confusing.

How in the world could you stay best friends with someone who you used to be in love with? And especially if that someone subsequently broke your heart?

Beyond that, how could you ever expect anyone to want to date you if you're still chatting with your ex every day? There are lots of complexities here.

I talked to 10 different people on how they manage to stay friends with their exes, and I got some pretty detailed reasons.

They had too much in common to give up on the friendship.

We were friends for years before we were together. You have to give it about a year of distance, but after that, you can reestablish contact on the common ground of your old friendship and things you had in common. We had art in common so we got closer again by consulting each other on our projects.

— Ali, 23

They became friends after he broke the next girl's heart.

My high school sweetheart ex, Jake*,  and I broke up after our freshman year of college. It was brutal as I knew he was already seeing someone else before he officially broke it off with me. There was about a year of bitterness, anger, drunken phone calls, yelling and crying back and forth, but then it got easier, and we didn't really talk for a while. Flash forward about three years — I am about to graduate college and dating a guy who I'm about to move in with, and Jake starts to reach out to me on Facebook. I was very much over our past and pretty intrigued, so I started chatting. Turns out, Jake was now "transitioning" from the girl he dumped me for onto another girl, taking almost the EXACT same course of action he had taken with our relationship. He became "bored" but didn't want to be alone, so he found a new girl and started to date her to make sure that she was up to his standards. Once he knew this new girl was for sure into him, he finally cut the cord with his current girlfriend. Real classy, right?
Anyway, he was reaching out to me because he said he felt comfortable talking to me about this — AKA, he likely wanted insight as to how is current GF was feeling and knew I would know just how it felt. Funny enough, this made me laugh and shake my head, making me SO thankful that I was not a part of this scam any longer and was merely an observer. In a twisted way, this situation made a friendship for Jake and myself, and five years later, we are still very good friends, talking often and giving each other a listening ear. A little note — Jake actually pulled this bait-and-switch routine AGAIN and now is "happily" engaged to the woman whom he was introduced to by his (now-ex) girlfriend of four years.

— Genna,* 29

He was always honest about his friendship with his ex to future dates.

They have a dog together.

They've both gotten married and moved on, but they're still friends.

We never actually talked about defining "keeping in touch as friends." He broke up with me, and it was really hard on me. It took awhile for me to be OK with him communicating with me and not let the past get in the way. Since then, I got married, had a kid and got divorced, and he has gotten married too. We don't live in the same city, so it makes it easier.

— Sheila,* 29

This couple had five years to heal.

Long distance forced them into friendship.

My ex and I decided to remain friends. He was moving out of state, and we knew maintaining a long distance relationship wasn't possible for us. We did need a break from each other to heal, as letting go of the possibility of a future with with each other was difficult. After talking, we decided that wanted to maintain a friendship. Before he moved, we met a few times for dinner. It didn't hurt, nor did it feel strange. It was like talking to an old friend. He's dating, and I am also dating.
Perhaps it's easier because we aren't in the same city or state anymore. We share some stories about dating, but neither of us are in anything serious. I don't believe our friendship will get in the way of future relationships. I love him, but in the same way I love the rest of my friends.

— Anne, 41

They started off as friends.

He loves his ex too much to go through life without him.

My "ex" was never actually my boyfriend, but we hooked up on and off for over six months before calling it quits. We drifted in and out of the friendship zone, and I clearly had more interest than he did, so it just fizzled out.
The decision to stay friends was mutual because we valued each other and appreciated being in each other's lives. But that's not to say it was easy. I clearly had residual feelings, which took a while to go away, and left some jealously whenever we'd discuss other hook-ups or anyone we'd been dating. It's been almost 2.5 years, and we're still good friends now, but that's not to say it was easy. The only way to make it work is if there's effort from both sides. I realized I loved him as a friend, and that I'd rather have him in my life than not at all.

— Logan*, 25

It took a year of moving on for them to become friends.

My parents' situation is obviously different from all of above because they share a (really awesome, beautiful) child who has kept them connected all those years.

And I do have a lot of respect for the people who manage to stay friends with their exes. Even though they don't really have anything connecting them to the other person.

I'm just not sure that would be so strong.

What do you guys think? Could you stay friends with an ex? Have you stayed friends with an ex? Comment your stories below!