Should You Try To Stay Friends With An Ex? According To Experts, It Depends
When a relationship comes to an end, one of the most difficult things that you may have to readjust to is that someone who was once a huge part of your life isn't anymore. As a way of coping with this strange emptiness you may feel, you may begin to wonder if you can have your ex in your life platonically. Should you try to stay friends with an ex? The short answer is, you can. But before you decide to take that leap into friendship, two experts agree you need some time between the breakup and the friendship.
"You need buffer room between being in a relationship (or non-relationship, those count too!) and being purely friends, and that buffer time is incredibly crucial if you're having a hard time letting go of your feelings for an ex," Elle Huerta, CEO and founder of heartbreak recovery app Mend, tells Elite Daily. "Having that time apart allows you to break the chemical attraction you feel, and it also gives your heart the space to make room for other people. But I do think exes can successfully be friends if they're no longer wanting anything but friendship from each other." So, if you want to try being friends with your ex, it's important to give yourself time and make sure that you're not just in it because you're hoping or trying to rekindle your relationship.
Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the breakup BOOST podcast, agrees with Huerta. "You can’t fully move on if you are constantly connected to your ex," she tells Elite Daily. "You need a good chunk of time apart with no contact to heal and cut your attachment from one another." And it makes sense, if you think about it. How can you move on from someone and learn to live without them if you're still in contact and seeing each other as if you weren't together at one point?
In order for a friendship to work between you and your ex, you both have to be on the same page about keeping it strictly platonic, and both experts agree that neither of you should have any remaining feelings for each other. "The trouble comes when one person has more expectations — that maybe the friendship should transform back into a relationship at some point," Huerta explains. If you or your ex are expecting a relationship to blossom from your friendship, "this can leave you with a lot of false hope," Leckie says.
Before you decide to reach out to your ex about being friends, make sure you're being real with yourself about why you want to have them back in your life, says Huerta — especially if they broke your heart when they ended things. If that's the case, "you need to ask yourself why you would then even consider being friends with them," Leckie advises. "Why would you want to? It’s important to forgive in order to free yourself of carrying so much weight and toxic energy around, but that doesn’t mean you need to have them in your life going forward." If you're lonely and miss having them in your life (which is completely normal post-breakup), it doesn't mean you should make efforts to make them part of your life again just yet. "You need to build up your confidence, and start a new chapter of life for yourself," says Leckie.
If you've considered all of this and you're ready to approach your ex about being friends, trying to figure out what to say to them can be pretty nerve-wracking. "It’s best to just be honest and say you would like to remain friends," Leckie points out. "You can decide what that means for both of you. If they don’t seem keen about it and aren’t reciprocating, then you will know to back off and give space." As hard as it may be for you to accept that your ex doesn't want to be friends, or maybe can't just yet because they still have feelings for you, give them the time they need.
Ultimately, yes, you can try to be friends with your ex. But it all comes down to why you want to be friends and if you're emotionally ready to try to have a platonic relationship with them. You may never be BFFs, but you and your ex may get to the point where you can check on each other every once in a while, and maybe even grab coffee sometimes. But understand that your friendship with them may not be the same as it was when you were romantically together. "It’s just really hard to change that dynamic from romantic partners to 'buddies,'" Leckie explains. However, as long as you feel like your heart has healed and you have completely moved on from your ex, and they're ready to try it out, too, a friendship can form.