Can You Be Friends With Your Ex: Is it Honestly Possible?

friends with your ex

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

From a reader: Jackie, neither one of us wants to get back together, but do people ever talk to their ex’s as friends? In other words, is it possible to be friends with your ex?

 

When I was in my thirties, living in Boston, I dated a guy for a few months and it didn’t work out. When we decided not to see each other anymore, he said, “I hope we can still be friends.”

I offered a sad sort of chuckle, rolled my eyes and replied, “Yeah, OK.”

Then he said something to me that I will never forget to this day. He said, “I really mean it and here’s why. If two people like each other enough to get into a relationship and then they break up, it makes sense that they would want to be friends. If they don’t, then they never really had anything substantial to begin with. I think we did.”

I have always thought that was a really, really smart way to look at a breakup. Why? Because, if you think about it, you got together with the person because you liked each other. If “like” is present and REAL, it will be there whether you are married, deeply in love, just dating, or broken up.

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So, is it possible to be friends with your ex? I’d say it’s Impossible if you don’t like each other. If it was more infatuation based, lust based, or you loved him or her but didn’t particularly care for them (and that is a very possible scenario), or one of the people did something unforgivably horrendous, I’d say you probably won’t become friends after.

I have no idea how your divorce turned out—if it was ugly, devastating, sad, angry, etc. but the fact that you are talking as friends is a great sign!

So, let’s say “like” is there. Additionally, there are some other factors that could determine whether or not you can be friends with your ex:

 

1. Again, if anything really, really bad was done in the marriage or divorce, there’s less of a chance.
2. If one person really wanted the divorce and the other didn’t, it might be too difficult at first.

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3. If one or both become involved in relationships where the friendship is an issue with the new spouse.

4. If there are children involved (that could bring a couple closer to being friends because they are forced to see each other more)
5. If one or both are still in love and so there is an ulterior motive of getting back together, then the friendship isn’t authentic.
6. If the person has a history of divorce (say his or her parents) and doesn’t know how to be friends because they never saw it any other way.
7. The legal process of the divorce was bad or one person walked away with a settlement they didn’t think was fair.

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One really big factor in being friends with your ex is TIME. I think it is difficult to be friends initially, because no divorce or break up ends without a lot of hurt. Undoubtedly, one or both are devastated But as time goes by and the hurt fades, people move on and then I think a genuine friendship can develop.

I will say that if you become friends with your ex, there has to be communication about what the friendship will be, and boundaries established. For example, maybe talk about how comfortable you are going into each other’s houses. Or, what happens when one of you starts dating someone.

Being friends with your ex is a beautiful thing, in my opinion, and a tribute to the relationship you once had. Some people think being friends with an ex is just too weird. Or, they carry bitterness and resentment way too much to go down that road.

But if you can find it in your heart to become friends with your ex, I believe it can be a gift. If you think about it, wasn’t your ex your family? Why would you ever want to turn your back on your family?

Then again, you might be rolling your eyes and saying, “No, thanks, Jackie. I don’t need a ‘friend’ like her (or him.)” Just keep in mind that you might not always feel this way. Time has a way of changing one’s perspective.

By the way, I am still friends with my Boston guy. It is a gift.

 

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

4 Responses to “Can You Be Friends With Your Ex: Is it Honestly Possible?”

  1. Tiffany

    Great post! My ex and I got divorced last October. I was really hurt, he said he wasn’t happy and that he was done. I had no idea he wasn’t happy, I was hurt for a long time. We last talked before NYE and the. Out of no where j got a text on Valentine’s Day that said Happy Valentine’s Day. I didn’t know what to think of it we talked a few days master because I was so confused, I shed some tears but since then we have talked about once a week or so like best friends. My friends and family think I’m crazy for talking to him but I’m kinda glad we can be friends.

    Reply
  2. Lori

    Hi I would love to stay friends even though he cheated and hurt be bad.I will try I still care. I’m I wrong should I just forget about it.

    Reply
  3. Veronica

    I was really good friends with my ex-husband up until the first after our divorce – he was seeing other people during this time but somehow for the sake of our kids we maintained a very strong friendship. Recently though he started dating someone who I think does not approve of this and probably made it her day-job to cause a bit of a break in our friendship. Now my ex and I communicate via text and its also always just related to the kids. Its sad but its his choice and I do not want extra drama. I guess you can be friends with ex but then there needs to be a certain maturity around it (from all parties concerned – even new partners).

    Reply
  4. Jennifer

    It took a few years for the relationship between my ex-husband & I to get to where it is today but we’re here and I am grateful. I was the one that wanted out over 11 years ago and needless to say the first year or two wasn’t pretty. However, I truly believe that having a good head on my shoulders along with an incredible support system & my precious children contributed to my mantra of moving on & letting go and making amends. We are blessed with two wonderful children and have learned and decided that a friendly & caring relationship is crucial. While we don’t agree all the time (who does?), we certainly respect each other & know to step aside and do what’s best of our children. Wonderful post Jackie!

    Reply

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