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If Your Ex Wants To Be Friends, What Does It Mean? (7 Reasons)

by Sonya Schwartz

How do you feel when you split up with a partner? I guess it all depends on whether you dumped him or he dumped you. Usually the person who did the dumping has moved on, leaving the dumped reeling from the hurt. But what if your ex wants to be friends? 

I’ve had situations where I’ve never wanted to see my ex ever again. I’ve literally danced into the sunlight singing ‘I’m free!’ But then there have been other times I’ve been desperate to see my ex. However, every time I’ve wanted to see my ex I’ve wanted to get back together.

So, does this suggest that if your ex wants to be friends they want the same thing? To rekindle the relationship? Perhaps they want another chance with you and they’re taking it slowly. Or maybe they’re just being polite.

It’s infuriating not knowing what’s going on in another person’s mind. But don’t despair. There are signs that can give you clues as to what your ex is thinking.

Why Your Ex Wants To Be Friends

As with all aspects of life, you have to put these signs into context.

For example, did you have a messy breakup with your ex? Was there a lot of hostility on both parts? If this is the case, your ex might just be trying to keep the peace.

Do you share friends? Do you go out in the same circles? If so, your ex might be trying to make life easier when you two do eventually bump into one another.

Or was the breakup amicable? Perhaps your ex will want to be friends with you now that you’re not having sex any more. Maybe he values your friendship?

You should also consider how his advances at friendship are making you feel. Do you want to see him just as a friend or are you hoping for something more?

Have you moved on with your life and really don’t need this interruption in your plans? Do you feel a little cringy that he’s still contacting you? After all, this isn’t just about him. Your feelings count too.

1.   Your Ex Regrets The Decision To Break-Up

We all say things in the heat of the moment. And it’s true to say that our loved ones bear the brunt of our hurt and upset. We take it out on the ones we love the most.

Perhaps your ex said some things he didn’t want to and he wishes he could take them back. Instead, what he’s now trying to do is remain friends so that at a later date he can fully apologise.

Or maybe time has passed and your ex has realised he’s given up a great relationship and he wants to get back with you. Maybe he wasn’t ready to commit when the pair of you first met. It could be that he’s grown up a lot since the breakup and feels like this is the right time for both of you.

You should think about what went wrong in the first place. Has he really changed that much? Will you still have the same problems going forward?

2.   You Are A Stopgap Until He Finds The Real thing

Some people can’t bear being on their own. So instead of making a clean break and having some quality alone time they remain in touch with their ex. It’s their way of being attached to someone until something better comes along. They are using you for emotional support but not giving much back.

This is because as soon as they find someone better they’re off. And you can bet if you need their support they’ll be busy with their new partner.

What you are doing is being a stopgap for them. You are not even second best because this is not a real relationship. This is your ex having you in his life but under his conditions.

Don’t let yourself be used like this. If you think your ex is not serious about starting over again then dump him.  

3.   Your Ex Wants Sex With No Strings

It’s one thing to be used for emotional support, however, it’s something quite different to be used for physical reasons. We’ve all heard of ‘friends with benefits’ and if you’re okay with that then fair enough.

But if you are hoping that one day these sexual conquests will turn back into love you are going to be sorely disappointed. One of the main reasons some ex-partners remain friends is purely because they have sex on tap whenever they want it.

More to the point, they have this available source of sex with none of those pesky committment rules or niceties that usually apply. You might be thinking to yourself that you are both using each other. But how will you feel when he starts dating again and the sex sessions with you stop?

4.   They Want The Best Of Both Worlds

Some people need an emotional attachment but can’t be bothered with an actual grown-up relationship. Others want to keep an eye on their ex partners, like having one toe in the water so to speak but not diving straight in.

Does your ex use this continuing friendship to keep tabs on your whereabouts? Are they always asking questions about where you’re going or have been?

It’s possible that although they don’t want to get hot and heavy with you again they still want a modicum of control over your life. If your ex is now a friend it means they’ll know all about you but with none of the commitment.

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The point here is why should you live this second-rate life just so that your ex will know what you’re up to? Sometimes it’s better to make a clean break in order to move on.

5.   They Miss Being Friends With You

If you started off as friends and then began dating one another it’s quite possible that your ex is now missing that original friendship. Perhaps you were the only one he could confide in about his problems? Or maybe he always came to you for advice?

A relationship is not just about a sexual connection, although, of course that is important. It’s about forming habits with one another. Intertwining lives with the other person. Forming close bonds with another human being.

Losing that closeness can be devastating. You’ve lost a way of living. You may have lost your lover but you can’t bear losing your friend as well.

Staying friends with your ex after a break up depends on how you feel. If it helps you then that’s great. But if it causes you pain then I suggest moving on.

6.   They Are Not Bothered Either Way

Has your ex asked to stay friends then you haven’t really heard much from them? Perhaps you’ve had an occasional text or call. Or they might have commented on your social media posts.

In this case they’re really not that bothered and are just trying to keep the peace. They don’t want confrontation or drama. They are doing the absolute minimum to stay connected without any commitment on their part.

You can easily tell if this is the case as there are several signs. If they take ages to respond to a text or call. Or if they encourage you to start dating again or if they ask for your dating advice about someone new.  

They won’t mind if they’ve upset you by telling you about their latest conquest. They’ll assume that because you are friends they can tell you anything. One thing they won’t talk about is a plan to get back together. 

7.   They Are Scared Of Change

Some people like for things to be the same. They cannot handle change. So for them, having you as a friend suggests that they don’t have to face up to the fact that the relationship is over.

This is hardly surprising. Breakups are hard on the soul. They leave scars that some people never heal from. But coping through a breakup is also a necessary part of life.

After all, how can we grow as people if we can’t move forward and use our experiences as character-building tools? If we never learn from our actions we will forever keep committing the same mistakes. Moreover, we’ll never learn that we can survive and move on.  

Remember, it’s not healthy for anyone to let an ex hang onto your friendship because they are afraid of moving on. So those are just a few reasons why your ex wants to be friends. But should you stay friends with your ex? Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t:

Should You Stay Friends With Your Ex After A Relationship?

It Doesn’t Help Your Self-Confidence

There are reasons why we breakup with people and that is because we are not compatible with them. So if we don’t get on with them at a relationship level, why would we want to continue seeing them as friends?

We tend to gravitate to those we like and love and vice versa. We don’t usually surround ourselves with people that don’t boost our self-esteem or confidence. We don’t need a constant reminder that a relationship failed or that we were devastated and hurt.

It Makes It Harder To Move Forward

How can you possibly move forward with an ex hanging around in the background? It doesn’t make sense. People naturally fall into and out of our lives. That’s human nature. We don’t have to keep in touch with every single person we’ve ever met.

In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that we can only maintain a certain small number of relationships in our lives.

So open up your circles to allow someone else to step into your life. Do you really want to keep remnants of the past to remind you of a failure?  

How Can You Ever Get Over Them?

It’s an extremely seductive notion to keep in touch with an ex if you were the one who was dumped. We don’t want to lose the love of our lives. But if they are friends you haven’t lost them forever. You can still chat to them and perhaps hang out with them occasionally.

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This intermittent contact helps soothe our broken hearts. We still have a tenuous connection to our ex. But it is this very connection that prevents us from getting over them in the first place. We can never achieve closure if our ex is always there.

FAQS

What Does It Mean When An Ex Wants To Be Friends?

There are several different reasons why an ex wants to be friends. You need to consider who broke up the relationship and who does it benefit the most if you stay friends? Is it possible that you can remain friends? Think about how you’d feel if your ex starts dating again. There’s your answer.

How Do You Know If Your Ex Just Wants To Be Friends?

There will be several signs that your ex just wants to be friends. He may talk about the new dates he’s looking forward to. Or he might even ask your advice about them. He certainly won’t get jealous if you tell him about your new dates.

Is It OK To Be Friends With Ex?

In some circumstances it is perfectly fine to be friends with an ex. For instance, I am friends with many of my exes. However, these are exes from decades ago that I have no loving feelings for. I stay in touch via Facebook or text. I don’t meet up with them.

What Does It Mean When A Guy Breaks Up With You But Still Wants To Be Friends?

As I discussed earlier, there are lots of reasons for this. Some guys are just afraid of change, others want sex with no strings, and some just want the best of both worlds. However, there are some mature guys out there that value your friendship and will want to retain it.

Why Would An Ex Want To Be Friends?

We live in a civilised society and the best outcome for all of us is to remain friends with our ex-partners. The thing is, who wants the drama and conflict of a messy breakup? So it could just be that your ex is a fully matured member of society.

On A Final Note

Think carefully about staying friends with your ex. It might seem a good idea at the time, when your heart is broken, but how would you feel if he started dating again?

That’s my take on staying friends with an ex. What do you think? If you have any thoughts or tips please let me know. 

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Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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