Staying Friends With An Ex: Can It Be Done?

Staying Friends With Ex

When I told friends of mine that I was writing this article about whether it’s possible to stay friends with an ex, they burst out laughing. Safe to say, my stance on the topic is common knowledge.  

My upfront, honest, and well-documented opinion is: no, you cannot stay friends with an ex. Once you’ve broken up, the door on any kind of relationship needs to be shut and dead-bolted.

Now, before you think I’m a bitter bitch, I promise you – I’m not. I look back on all my past relationships fondly, even the ones under the “What the fuck?” category. Out of all my ex-boyfriends, only a few seem to find a way to occasionally circumnavigate their blocked status. I know being unfriendly is for the best. For both of us.

You can claim you want to stay friends with an ex because “you still really care about them” or “I just can’t imagine my life without them.” But let’s cut the bullshit – these are just elaborate excuses you’re (sub)consciously disguising as justifiable reasons. You’re lying to yourself as much as you’re lying to whatever friend is sympathetically nodding but internally eye-rolling. It’s time for you to snap out of it.

Once it’s clear that the relationship is cooked, start the journey back to being your happy, fulfilled, and confident self. Bottom line: you don’t need your ex as a friend to achieve that.

It impedes your newfound independence

One of the best things about becoming single is your newfound freedom. Rediscovering time for yourself and reconnecting with friends that you have inevitably drifted away from can be the greatest breakup perk. If you’re still a +1, it means the status quo hasn’t changed. Enjoy not having to constantly check what time you’ll need to be home for dinner. Order a burger, some fries, and a thick shake on UberEats and enjoy a judgement-free binge in peace. 

You won’t be able to heal

Even if you had a “good” break-up, there’s always going to be some associated shittiness. Without sounding morbidly dramatic, a relationship coming to an end is sort of like a death. You probably need some time to lick your wounds and do some self-introspection. This pretty much becomes impossible if the person you’re moving on from keeps re-entering your life. You don’t need to have another “talk” that ends in tears. Shut the door. Let your ex and the relationship rest in peace so you can find yours. 

Too much temptation

If you’re still spending time with your ex, especially on the piss, the boundaries will become as blurry as your vision. They feel comfortable, they know what you like, and maybe you just want the satisfaction of knowing you can still get them when you want. I know, I know… break up sex is hot, but just remember that in this case, short term gain equals long term pain. Don’t risk the relapse and find yourself stuck in another unhealthy cycle. 

Your new Mrs or Mr won’t like it

No matter how “cool” your new squeeze is, I promise they will not like witnessing how great you get along with their predecessor. Jealousy is ugly, but so is disrespecting your current relationship. So to ensure your new love will be your future love, let your past relationships stay in the past. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I’m sorry to tell you that it’ll probably just end up with you being alone, as hard as that pill is to swallow.

There’s a reason it ended

If there is ever a moment of weakness or inclination to reach out to an ex, remind yourself of why the relationship is over. A decision was made for it to come to an end. You tried to make it work and whilst it may have for a while (and been wonderful), it doesn’t any longer. If you were meant to be together, you still would be. And if you were meant to only be friends, you would never have crossed the line in the first place. They’re not your person anymore. 

How do you stop?

This all sounds good in theory. But there’s no doubt that putting it into practice is the tricky part. It requires strength, stubbornness, and some will inevitably falter. Love is a drug and habits are hard to give up. However, my advice comes with a money-back guarantee – it will get easier. Time really is the greatest healer. 

Minimise contact with none at all where possible (as soon as possible). Save yourself the heartache of waiting for that notification on your phone or reading into things like how many kisses they signed off their text with. One simple trade secret to remember is that they’ll never say or do what you want them to say or do. 

You won’t find any of my ex’s in my Instagram followers. I am a serial blocker. It’s not about being petty or theatrical. It signals you don’t care what they are doing and more importantly, they don’t have a right to see what you are doing any longer. Yes, you may get a bit of sick satisfaction knowing they have watched your thirst trap story, but once that momentary dopamine release passes, does it change anything? No. Cut them off and live your best life for you. 

You will bump into your ex eventually, especially as wedding season approaches. You want it to be amicable, but this does not include deciding to get into it (either arguing or eating each other’s faces) after prosecco number seven.

Some of you are reading this and thinking, “No, my ex and I are the exception.” I absolutely commend your efforts. But if you find yourself waking up one morning laying next to them after what was supposed to be just a quick coffee catch up, give me a call. I will have a spoonful of tough love waiting with your name on it.  

Now, have you ever really thought about the politics of an office romance? Here are my do’s and don’ts of getting frisky with a colleague.