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Why Does My Ex Want to Be Friends? Find Out If You Should

Has your ex mentioned that he wants to be friends with you? Is it something you’d like to consider? 

While it might all seem overwhelming, remaining friends with an ex can work in certain scenarios. However, there are other times when rekindling your friendship with an ex can be an absolute disaster! 

Knowing when and how to rekindle a healthy platonic relationship is essential if things are to move forward happily.

Key Takeaways

  • There are many different reasons why your ex might want to rekindle the friendship
  • There are some factors and challenges you might want to consider before rekindling the friendship
  • Having a healthy friendship with an ex is absolutely possible 

Reasons Why Your Ex Wants to Be Friends After the Breakup

Sometimes, an ex wants to remain friends for genuine reasons. Other times, an ex’s attempt at rekindling a friendship with you is due to ulterior motives. Identifying why your ex really wants to remain friends will aid you in deciding how to move forward. 

Below we look at some of the reasons why your ex may have suggested the two of you remain friends.

1. He still loves you

he still loves you

If, after a breakup, he realizes he still loves you, he might ask you to remain friends in hopes of getting back together romantically. He might be too scared to admit he still has feelings for you outright. Instead, remaining friends gives him an opportunity to show you and, hopefully, help him find a way back into your life as a lover.

If, in this case, the feelings are mutual, there’s nothing wrong with rekindling the friendship and seeing where things progress from there. 

On the other hand, if you have no romantic feelings for him anymore and you’re sure he still does have feelings, attempting to remain friends is probably not in your or his best interests. Remaining friends after a break up when one party has feelings and the other doesn’t is bound to become toxic and uncomfortable in one way or another. It’ll also prevent both parties from moving on in a healthy way.

2. You had a messy breakup

If things between the two of you ended badly, he might attempt rekindling the friendship out of guilt or in an attempt to salvage his reputation and correct his wrongdoings. 

In this scenario, his attempt at remaining friends isn’t necessarily to get back together with you, instead, it’s an attempt to right his wrongs. 

Rekindling a friendship in this case will depend on your feelings towards him and the way the relationship ended. If you’re still harboring anger or resentment towards him or the breakup in general, I would advise steering clear of any friendship for the time being.

3. Remaining friends means he won't have to lose you

A relationship ending also means the loss of someone significant in your life. While you may decide to break up for a number of reasons, sometimes losing the company of a constant companion is extremely difficult to deal with. 

He may no longer have feelings for you but miss the companionship you provided him with and as a result, ask to remain friends. 

Keep in mind, however, that this sort of reliance on someone may complicate your relationship and delay the moving-on process.

4. You are in the same friendship group

you are in the same friendship group

If the two of you are friends with the same group of people, having an amicable breakup and remaining friends would be the sensible thing to do, if at all possible. 

On the contrary, if the two of you had a really bad split and are unable to remain friends, your friend group may feel forced to take sides in which case you may lose some friends. 

Having mutual friends often complicates a breakup even further. If you can find a way to remain decent, respectful, and kind, it’ll be easier for everyone involved. 

5. He’s interested in a friends-with-benefits situation

Friends-with-benefits can work as long as you’re both on the same page and are completely transparent about your intentions. If he wants to have a friends-with-benefits set up it means he wants to have casual sex with you, without any strings attached (i.e. without getting any romantic emotions involved). 

Before agreeing to a friends-with-benefits situation, make sure you can handle this on an emotional level. 

If you still have romantic feelings for your ex or are hoping a friends-with-benefits situation will turn into a romantic relationship again, then I don’t suggest agreeing to the above, it’ll only lead to heartbreak and further complications down the road. 

6. Staying friends means you are always available

If your ex-boyfriend isn’t ready for a serious relationship, he might want to be friends instead as a way of keeping you at arm's length and making sure you’re always available for him

In my opinion, this is a selfish move. He wants the best of both worlds. He wants all the good sides of you (perhaps he loves your sense of humor or the amazing advice you give or the great companion you are) but at the same time doesn’t want to commit and wants to keep his options open. 

Choosing to stay friends in this case boils down to the way you feel about this scenario.

7. You are a backup plan

Again, another selfish move in my opinion. Perhaps your ex has decided to remain “just friends,” but if you have strong feelings for him it’s sure to feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. Evaluating and understanding the reasons behind his decision is an important first step.

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If your ex wants to keep you as a backup plan it’s likely that he has some feelings for you but he’s not absolutely sure about them. 

By keeping you in the friend zone he’s able to keep you around while looking for other possible suitors. If someone “better” comes along, he’s likely to move on with them. However, if in time he’s still single, he might opt to “settle with you.”

This scenario is unhealthy. It’s likely to cause you to question your self-worth and prevent you from finding someone you deserve. 

8. It’s his way of controlling you

it’s his way of controlling you

Staying friends with an ex who was controlling in your relationship isn’t a good idea. Chances are, his wanting to remain friends after a breakup is so that he can continue to control you and your decisions in one way or another. He might try and control who you speak to, see, and go on dates with. This will only make moving on more difficult. 

9. His intentions are genuine

If both of you have genuinely moved on and no longer have romantic feelings for each other, or harbor any resentment towards each other, then a friendship might work out for both of you. Making sure you set clear boundaries will ensure the friendship doesn’t become complicated or anything more than what you intend for it to be.

10. He’s lonely and wants companionship

Losing your constant companion after a breakup can sometimes be extremely difficult and lead to feelings of loneliness. This is especially true if the two of you spent a great deal of time together in your relationship or if one, or both, of you, don’t have a big friendship circle or support group. 

Once again, remaining friends under these circumstances depends on your true feelings for one another. If neither of you is in love anymore, companionship and friendship with someone you know this well might not be a bad idea. 

11. You were friends before you dated

Sometimes it just so happens that two people who are good friends start dating only to realize they’re actually better off as friends

If this is the case, and the feelings are mutual, going back to being friends is not only possible, it’s probably a great idea. Having a true friend in your life who you can rely on, confide in, and have fun with is invaluable. 

12. He misses who he was with you

If your ex realizes, in hindsight, that things were pretty great when the two of you were together and that he enjoyed who he was when he was around you, it’s likely that he’s going to try and rekindle the friendship. This motive will be driven by nostalgia. 

In this scenario, be mindful that if you want to be friends again there’s a good chance he’s going to try and turn it into something more. 

13. You have mutual responsibilities

you have mutual responsibilities

If you have shared responsibilities like kids, businesses, loans, homes, or anything else, remaining friends will make things a lot easier. When kids are involved, it’s particularly important to try and remain amicable in order to make things comfortable and as smooth as possible for the little ones. 

If he wants to remain friends in this scenario, it’s a mature decision and something I’d suggest considering, for your own sake and your family’s. 

Can You Be Friends with an Ex? 7 Challenges You May Face and Factors to Consider

1. Do you trust him?

The first thing to consider before making any concrete decision about how to move forward is whether or not you trust your ex. If you don’t trust him, being friends with him will be incredibly difficult and might make things worse than if the two of you are to cut your losses and walk away.

A healthy relationship or friendship has trust as a foundation, without trust, things are bound to falter.

2. Do you still have feelings for him? 

Once again, if you still have feelings for your ex, staying friends is unlikely to work. At some point in the friendship romantic feelings are bound to get involved and leave you feeling heartbroken all over again. 

Furthermore, if you stay friends with someone you like romantically, it’ll prevent you from moving on and meeting other people.

If you still have feelings for him, give yourself time and space to heal and move on before reconsidering a friendship.

3. It might prevent you from moving on

Ask yourself honestly whether remaining friends with your ex will prevent you from moving on, meeting new people, and dating again. Even if your ex is just a friend, it might make it awkward when you’re suddenly seeing someone new. If not, and you truly have moved on emotionally, keeping your ex in the friend zone might work for you.

4. Have you worked through any anger or resentment you might have from the relationship?

Even if you no longer have feelings for your ex, there might be buried anger or resentment that you’re holding onto from the past. I can truly say that I have no feelings for any of my exes but I do resent some of them for the way they treated me and the way the relationship ended. 

In this sort of scenario, while you may think you can be friends and be amicable with each other, that’s not always the case. Reintroducing them into your life may stir up old emotions and put you in a negative space emotionally. Sometimes it’s healthier to cut ties after a breakup and find a new partner to make memories with.

5. Have you had time apart yet?

As a general rule, it’s important for exes to have spent time apart to be able to move on from the past relationship. Whether this timeframe is a couple of months or a couple of years depends largely on your feelings. Trust your instinct. Trying to remain friends without having a clean break is unlikely to work. 

It’s important to take time out for yourself, to rediscover yourself, and remap your life without your ex’s presence in it. I would suggest only considering a friendship once you’re no longer dependent on your ex and their presence in your life, and have healed emotionally.

6. Are either of you jealous?

If either of you are jealous people, opting to stay friends is unwise. 

Just picture a scenario where one of you tells the other about a new lover… how would each of you respond in this case? If jealousy rears its head and things between the two of you become ugly, it’s a clear sign that a friendship won’t work. 

Being friends in this case means neither of you will be able to easily move on with your life and start dating again.

7. Will the friendship add to your life? 

Will being friends with your ex add to your life in a positive way? In my opinion, friends are there to add to your life - they make life a little easier and a whole lot more fun. 

True friends are people you can trust and confide in, rely on, have fun with, and make memories with. If you can truly picture your ex in this sort of light, consider keeping them around as a friend. 

On the contrary, if you’re concerned about the dynamics between you and your ex and whether or not they’ll add positively to your life, keeping them at an arm’s length might be a better idea. You can be civil and amicable with them if and when you see them but you don’t need to be friends

Tips to Stay Friends with an Ex in a Healthy Way 

If you’ve taken time out to really think and analyze whether or not being friends with an ex will work for you and you’ve decided to give it a go, here are some tips you might want to think about implementing so you can move forward in a healthy way.

1. Let go of the past

Let bygones be bygones. If you’re going to move forward in a healthy way, it’s important to let go of any negativity and ill feelings from the past. Bringing negative emotions back into the friendship will cause it to crumble before it’s even started. Start off on a clean slate and let the friendship evolve from there.

2. Set boundaries 

Setting boundaries in any friendship or relationship is very important, however, it’s especially important when it comes to starting a friendship with an ex. Consider things like: 

  • How frequently you speak 
  • How frequently you’ll see each other 
  • Where to draw boundaries in terms of meet-up spots - i.e. will you be invited into each other’s homes if you’re meeting up one on one? 
  • Where to draw boundaries in terms of physical touch 
  • Whether or not you’ll share information regarding your dating lives
  • Will you hang out alone or only in groups

3. Set realistic expectations 

Moving from a relationship to a friendship means there needs to be a shift in expectations, too. You can’t expect the same level of emotional support and time from a friend as you can from a romantic partner. 

Both parties need to set realistic expectations and be transparent about what they can give or aren’t prepared to give towards the friendship.

4. Don’t let other people’s opinions affect your decision

Too often we let other people’s opinions dictate and sway our decisions. I’ve learned the hard way that when it comes to matters of the heart, you need to trust your instinct. If something feels a certain way, regardless of what others are saying, go with your gut.

5. Make sure you’re both actually over each other 

Pay attention to the way you both feel when you spend time around each other. Perhaps you both thought that being friends would be a great idea until you started hanging out and a flood of emotions came back for one, or both, of you. 

If you feel hurt or emotional when hanging out with your ex, be honest with yourself and your ex about how you feel. If you need to cut ties again, don’t feel guilty about it. You need to do what’s best for you. 

If you realize that you still like your ex in a romantic way, being friends will be incredibly difficult. I suggest taking a step back and doing what makes sense for you.

6. Accept when either of you needs more space

If your friendship gets to the point where either of you feels you need more space, be honest about it and accept it with grace. Being friends with an ex might become complicated from time to time and either party might need to take a step back.


What do you do when your ex wants to be friends?

You need to consider, first and foremost, whether or not you’re ready to invite your ex back into your life and whether or not you can truly see them as a friend (and nothing more). If any romantic feelings still remain then rekindling a friendship is not a good idea, it’ll only complicate things further. Don’t feel obliged to rekindle a friendship if that’s not something you want or feel ready for. 

Can you be friends with an ex you still love?

You’re bound to run into issues if you attempt to remain friends with an ex who you still love. Feelings like jealousy, resentment, sadness, and even self-worth issues might creep in at some point and cause a toxic situation between the two of you. If you still love your ex, wait until you’ve fully moved on before considering a friendship. 

Signs your ex only sees you as a friend and nothing more: 

He doesn’t get jealous when you go on dates. 
He asks you for dating advice.
He doesn’t flirt with you or attempt to pull any moves.


Being friends with an ex can work if you’re both transparent about your intentions and have both moved on emotionally. On the contrary, if you’re still hung up on your ex post-breakup, a friendship might not be in either party’s best interests. Before you decide what to do, take some time to think through things clearly and trust your instincts.

Utilize this tool to verify if he's truly who he claims to be
Whether you're married or just started dating someone, infidelity rates have risen by over 40% in the past 20 years, so your concerns are justified.

Do you want to find out if he's texting other women behind your back? Or if he has an active Tinder or dating profile? Or even worse, if he has a criminal record or is cheating on you?

This tool can help by uncovering hidden social media and dating profiles, photos, criminal records, and much more, potentially putting your doubts to rest.


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