Can You Be Friends With An Ex Right After A Breakup? Experts Say It’s Rare, But Possible

One of my very best friends is an ex from high school, so I know for a fact that a friendship after a relationship is not only possible, but can be a lifelong and wonderful one. But you'll note I said one of my best friends is an ex. That's because, while becoming friends with an ex right after a breakup is possible, it doesn't happen that often. There are usually just too many confusing feelings at play to make that transition a quick and easy one. In our case, my ex and I took a short breather to let the dust settle a bit after our breakup. After a few weeks of being apart, we realized that we really liked one another and just wanted to be in each other's lives as just friends.

Ultimately, we learned that we were much better friends than romantic partners. I definitely don't regret the relationship, because the friendship that came after it has meant so much to me in the years that followed. Honestly, I wish all breakups were more like that one. Is that possible? Is there a way to turn all your former lovers into future besties? What about someone you just broke things off with. Can you make them your friend right away? To help answer these questions, I reached out to relationship experts to learn whether or not it's possible to go right from dating into a friendship, and, if so, how. Here's what they had to say.

It is possible to be friends right after a breakup — but it’s rare.

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First thing's first: The experts agree that being friends with a former flame is achievable, but only in specific cases. “Yes, it is possible to be friends with an ex right after the breakup, especially if you have had a strong foundation built on friendship before you became lovers,” Celia Schweyer, dating expert at Dating Scout, tells Elite Daily. “There are a lot of ex-couples who became friends right away even if the reason behind the breakup was a painful one. This is because they are capable of understanding each other, and they know exactly what went wrong in the relationship.”

However, Schweyer adds that this situation is not very common. ”Not all people would want to stay friends with their exes right after the breakup. This is not because they are cowards or whatnot. It’s just that they need to take a step back and take the time to recover from the breakup,” she says.

How do you know whether or not your situation is conducive to rekindling a friendship? The only way to know for sure, psychologist and relationship expert, Dr. Lindsay Jernigan, tells Elite Daily, is to trust your instincts and be open in your communication. “One of the great and challenging things about relationships is that there are no rules! What is right for one person or couple may not be what is right for the next. So the key is to tune into what is authentically right for you and your ex,” she explains. “Many couples do remain friends, although not always right away. [However], if you and your ex already mutually know that your friendship love is solid [and] you just didn't work as lovers, then feel free to enjoy your friendship right away.”

How to transition from exes to friends.

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If you feel as though you and your ex have the potential to be friends, that’s wonderful, but Schweyer warns that it may not be as easy a transition as you think. “It is difficult to adjust your boundaries from being in a relationship to just being friends," she says. "The first thing to do is to talk with your ex [about] if they are comfortable with the idea of being friends right after the breakup, or if they need time to process things first. You have to make sure that they agree with this before deciding to be friends again.” Schweyer suggests that when you both agree you're ready for that step, you create clear boundaries with one another to avoid anyone getting hurt.

Daniel Sher, a registered clinical psychologist and a consultant for the Between Us Clinic, tells Elite Daily that along with being open with your partner, you need to be totally honest with yourself before trying to move forward with a friendship. “Ensure that you fully understand why you want to make this work,” he says. “Are you feeling guilty about the breakup? Are you ambivalent about whether you want to the romance to end? If either of these are true, you risk facing complications. If you simply want to continue the relationship in the capacity of a friendship because you value your partner in this capacity (i.e., not romantically), this is when the bond is likely to continue in a healthy manner.”

If in considering everyone's feelings, including your own, you come to the conclusion that you want to be friends, Dr. Jernigan says you might be ready to take the first step. “It’s time to have a conversation with your ex," she says.

Don’t be surprised if one or both of you needs more time to heal first.

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If you feel as though you and your ex have the potential to be friends, that’s wonderful, but Schweyer warns it may not be as easy a transition as you think. “It is difficult to adjust your boundaries from being in a relationship to just being friends," she says. "The first thing to do is to talk with your ex if they are comfortable with the idea of being friends right after the breakup or if they need time to process things first. You have to make sure that they agree with this before deciding to be friends again.” Schweyer suggests that when you do both agree you're ready for that step, you create clear boundaries with one another to avoid anyone getting hurt.

Daniel Sher, a registered clinical psychologist and a consultant for the Between Us Clinic, tells Elite Daily that along with being open with your partner, you need to be totally honest with yourself before trying to move forward with a friendship. “Ensure that you fully understand why you want to make this work,” he says. “Are you feeling guilty about the breakup? Are you ambivalent about whether you want to the romance to end? If either of these are true, you risk facing complications. If you simply want to continue the relationship in the capacity of a friendship because you value your partner in this capacity (i.e., not romantically), this is when the bond is likely to continue in a healthy manner.”

If in considering everyone's feelings, including your own, you come to the conclusion a friendship is what you want then Dr. Jernigan says you are ready to take the first step: “It’s time to have a conversation with your ex.”