Sex and Relationships

Can You Be Friends With An Ex?

Your ex partner might have been your best friend during your relationship, but is it possible to keep any type of friendship once it’s over? 

By: Katie Kallahan

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“Life imitated art on that one” Machine Gun Kelly. Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqFQUdMIzqs

We have all seen the movies, where the guy cheats on the girl and she frantically throws all his clothes and belongings out of the window and onto the street whilst yelling, crying, and sometimes drinking a bottle of wine. 

So is it possible to stay friends with someone you were in a relationship with romantically? Or are all ended relationships going to become the thing you try to forget happened at all? 

“ I would love to say yes,” said CSI student, Sabrina Benet. “I think it depends on the person.” 

Although it does depend on the person if you can stay friends or not it also depends on how the relationship ended.

In some cases, you and your partner may have been friends long before you became a couple. You both may come to realize that you were better off as friends than having a romantic relationship. This way, if the relationship ended amicably, you can go back to being friends and still platonically enjoy each other’s company. 

If you and your partner work together, you might have to put up a friendly front for workplace professionality. In any case of becoming friends with an ex, you need to establish clear and concise boundaries. You aren’t together anymore so they shouldn’t be calling or texting you constantly anymore. If you share a child, find what boundaries work best for the both of you to work together for the child’s best interests. 

If you’ve ended a long-term relationship, and still want to be friends with the person, it may be harder to do this. You’ve dated them for so long, there’s bound to be some emotional attachment still there and by deciding to stay friends, you won’t be allowing yourself to heal from the breakup if it was painful. 

“When you look at them you just replay those old memories way too much,” said CSI student Amber Zahriyeh. “Someone always ends up having feelings again.” 

Zahriyeh goes on to explain that in some situations if your ex wants to stay friends, they may have an ulterior motive to get back into your life romantically. The ex may be having one-sided feelings or feelings of guilt from ruining the relationship, and they may be just trying to win you back. 

If either of you cheated on the other, this wouldn’t be an ideal situation to stay friends. The person who cheated had to be unhappy in the relationship, to begin with, to drive them to do something like that. The person who was cheated on, most likely just got heartbroken. 

Getting over a breakup doesn’t happen quickly either. You both might need some time to come to terms that the relationship is over and cope with any hurt feelings. 

Depending on how the relationship ended, you need to make sure you aren’t still holding on to any feelings of hurt, anger, jealousy, or anything else before you decide to attempt a friendship. Another important thing you need to consider is if you would be okay seeing your ex-lover with someone else. 

“Fuck no,” said Aj Suarez, Outback Steakhouse employee. “I’ll say it again. Fuck. No.” 

When you are with someone for so long, you believe this is the person you will spend the rest of your life with, and then after all those long years you break up, it is a lot to recover from. It’s human nature to grow and change as you go through life and over time you may realize the person you are with isn’t compatible with you anymore. But in some cases, it might just be one person who is changing and the other may not be able to keep up with these changes due to whatever variables are going on in their lives. 

You could be completely deeply in love, and your partner could be losing the love, in these endings, it could be rough. It may hurt one or the other, or even both of you if you were to stay just friends. One of you may be holding out hope that you might eventually get back together, while the other is moving on with their lives. Healing after any type of breakup doesn’t occur overnight, and you shouldn’t have to go through it alone either. 

“It’s difficult when you’re friends then they go to your boyfriend and back to friends,” said CSI student Gabrielle Pelucco. “It’s not easy to go back to normal.” 

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Hanging on by a thread, or eternally linked? Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/E8H76nY1v6Q

Pelucco shared that when you’re in a relationship for a while, you start to think about the future. You start to think if you see yourself marrying this person, and not only them but what kind of family you’re marrying into. After thinking that way for someone and then breaking up, it makes it difficult to ever see yourself being just friends. 

The way the relationship ends affects this decision too. In another of Pelucco’s past relationships, staying friends with her ex were near impossible. In their relationship, her ex was struggling with mental health and she couldn’t help him in the way he needed. 

He wasn’t taking the professional help he was receiving seriously. It became too overwhelming for her to try to help this person and not be constantly worried for him. 

“Try seeking the support of a therapist or trusted impartial friend,” said psychotherapist Kathleen Dahlen DeVos. “Or turn to personal practices, like journaling, to help release and clarify your thoughts and feelings.” 

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