Your ex wants to be friends, but you want your ex back. You’re tempted to agree, because you don’t want to lose touch, and you’re sure that with a bit of time your ex will change their mind. Or – you want to be friends with your ex, because you want your ex back. And you think it’s an effective way to make it happen.
Both these scenarios have one thing in common; you don’t really want to “friends” with your ex at all. You want them back.
Taking the Friends Route to Get Back With Your Ex? The Result Might Not Be What You Want
Being friends with an ex is a tricky subject, and a lot of the time it really ISN’T a good idea. It depends on who did the dumping, what your feelings for each other are now and what you TRULY want to get out of your friendship.
If you’ve been dumped, why do you want to be friends with you ex? Is it something that they want too? Whose idea was it?
If it was your ex, they might have their own motives for wanting to be friends – motives that are self-interested and damaging; or even toxic for you.
Be Careful You Don’t Mistake Friendship for Love
Are your feelings for your ex really those of friendship? Do you have no feelings of anger, pain, resentment, hate or love for them now? If not, what was your relationship based on?
Do you hope that, by being friends, you will have a chance to get your ex back? If you did the dumping, do you want to use them as a fallback until you find somebody better?
The best thing you can do when you break up with someone is to cut off contact with them. This is especially true if you want to get them back. You both need time and space to recover from the trauma of the breakup, and to be able to see what went wrong between you more clearly.
But your ex wants to be friends. So let’s consider the reasons you might give yourself for wanting to be your ex’s friend, and see how well they stack up.
I don’t want to look mean/petty/cold/nasty (insert your word of choice here)
If you were dumped, then you won’t appear any of these by not being friends with your ex. You will appear mature, stable and well-adjusted. You will show yourself as a person with an admirable degree of self-respect.
I want to keep the good things we had between us
As they have been outweighed by the bad, the price for holding on to them is probably too high. You have broken up, and that is enough for you to deal with right now. If your ex wants to be friends, you can reconsider it later, when you have learned to accept the breakup.
I want to look cool and mature
You will look both if you accept the break up and start moving on with your life. Being polite and friendly towards your ex will add to that impression, as long as any encounters between you are genuinely accidental.
I still care about them and want to keep them in my life
In other words, you have not even begun to get over them yet. And that is why you should give yourself a chance to do so by NOT seeing them for a while. Even if you want to get back with them, this still applies. It will give you time to be sure about what you really want. And it will give your ex time to miss you, and perhaps to have second thoughts about their decision.
Why You Need To Stop Seeing Your Ex – For Now
The reason why you should stop seeing your ex after a breakup is to teach yourself that you don’t want, need or expect anything from them any more. You need to show this to your ex, as well as to yourself. It is vital that you don’t deceive yourself now about what you really want. As long as you can’t see your ex without hoping to get something from them, then you have ulterior motives for wanting to be friends.
And the “something” isn’t necessarily to get them back. It can be the desire to see them hurt, or jealous, or unhappy; or just to see any kind of reaction from them.
Why Being Friends Can Make Things Worse – For You
Who wants to be friends? And why?
There is a good reason why it is better not to remain in contact with your ex immediately after the breakup. If your ex wants to be friends, then for some reason they don’t want to lose touch with you completely.
While you are still there offering friendship, your ex will have your support while they recover. This will help them to heal quicker, and to move on with life – without you. Meanwhile you are showing yourself to be weak and of low value, because you are accepting whatever they are willing to give.
Remaining friends keeps all sorts of emotions alive, emotions which need to be allowed to die. If you really want your ex back, then you will be riding a rollercoaster of emotions between hope and despair while your ex flits in and out of your life.
Being there for them will help them move on, while prolonging your feelings of pain and rejection. But if you refuse to see them, they will have to cope with the breakup without your help. This will cause them more pain and allow you to heal quicker.
Spending time apart will help you to see things more clearly. As you start to heal, you will get a clearer idea of how far your ex’s contribution to your life was truly positive, and how much it added to your happiness.
You may find you start to see things differently, and realize that they were not the one for you after all. Your ex wants to be friends, but you can see that there are other more promising possibilities awaiting you.
When Your Ex Keeps Texting You
Supposing you’ve been trying to keep any contact with your ex to a minimum, but they keep contacting you – calling, texting, emailing?
Should you be responding and keeping the lines of communication open after all?
Well, there are lots of reasons why this might happen, and not all of them mean that your ex wants you back. Here are a few things for you to ponder.
- They are confused or dithering about the breakup, and they want to keep rehashing the situation in order to reach a conclusion.
- The grass on the other side wasn’t quite as green as they thought, and so they want to keep you on the back burner so that they still have you to fall back on.
- Their ego was stung by your not contacting them. As a great concession they called you – and you didn’t answer. So now they are driving themselves nuts, wondering what you are up to.
- While they didn’t want to be a committed relationship with you, they do want to be in some sort of relationship with you – just not TOO close. They are sitting on the fence.
- They may have thought things over carefully during the time you have been apart, and realized that after all you were The One. This DOES happen, but to be honest it is the least likely scenario.
What You Should Do
You will have noticed that most of the reasons your ex may have for remaining in contact with you – or why your ex wants to be friends – are selfish and negative. It is better to keep to your no contact rule (especially when you really want to get them back), until YOU have decided what YOU want, and are ready to go for it.
There is no need to be rude or hostile if you do meet or talk to them sometime. Just keep the conversation alight and brief, and make it clear that you are too busy to stop for long. This will confound all their expectations of having ruined your life, and plunged you into a slough of despond.
Your Ex Wants To Be Friends: What It Really Means
As long as you remain in some kind of relationship with your ex, even if you define it as “friends”; you are allowing them to have their cake and eat it. They get all the benefits of your companionship without having to make a commitment to you. If you believe that by remaining in their life, your ex will come to see how much you mean to them; then you are quite wrong.
The way to make them appreciate you most is to deprive them of your company. As long as you are still around when they want you, your ex will never have a chance to miss you. Or to truly appreciate what they’ve lost in losing you.
And by refusing to settle for less than you want, you are showing yourself as a person of high value who is worthy of the best anyone can give them.
Most important of all, don’t try to use sex as a means of rekindling your relationship.
Trying to win someone’s love or commitment through sex never works; and it degrades what was one of the most important parts of your old relationship. Being a “friend with benefits” isn’t a precursor to a proper relationship: it is just a way of allowing your ex another free helping of cake.
As long as you want them back; when your ex wants to be friends you would be far wiser to decline. Point out that you’ve just broken up, so it’s too early to be comfortable as platonic friends just yet. You don’t want to shut them out of your life forever, but you think you need a break from each other right now.
When It’s OK – and Even Good – to Be Friends
The time to consider being friends is when all the passion in your relationship has truly been spent. This can happen as people grow and change, and after long-term relationships have come to their natural end.
To be comfortable in a friendship, you must have lost all sexual desire for each other, and also the feelings of possessiveness that most people continue to feel for someone to whom they have once been close. But when you have shared much together, and you each have qualities you value in the other, then it can be a great thing to preserve your long attachment to each other in a friendship.
When It’s NOT a Good Idea To Be Friends
But if you are young and are still finding your way in relationships, then it is usually better to move on and make new friends.
Bear in mind that it’s just not possible to go from a romantic and sexual relationship to friends overnight. There needs to be a hiatus when you both adjust to the end of you as a couple, and the beginning of you as two separate people, who can sustain a genuine friendship.
Whatever happens, you need to be able to respect the boundaries of friendship, and not use it to exploit each other. A good friend does not make unreasonable demands.
And above all, do not expect being friends with your ex to be a stepping stone to getting back together.
If what you really want is to recreate your relationship, then you should not hide that behind the dishonesty of pretending to be friends. You must hold out for a genuine commitment, otherwise you risk being taken for granted; and being used for easy money, sex, or a shoulder to cry on – providing whatever your ex wants when no-one better is available.
And if they cannot or will not give you commitment, then you must accept that your relationship is over. Although your ex wants to be friends, your feelings make friendship impossible. It is better to move on to a new life, than waste your life trying to get something that you can never have.