Is Being Friends with an Ex Worth It?

A couple who learned how to be friends with your ex, laughing in the sun while the woman gives the man a piggyback ride.

If you’ve gone through your fair share of breakups, you’ve likely heard the old “I hope we can still be friends” cliché at some point. But how many times have you actually put in the effort to be friends with your ex? To be fair, people can and do manage to maintain great friendships with their exes. Just because you broke up, it doesn’t mean that you don’t care about each other anymore. But maintaining friendships take work. Once you’ve broken up with someone, is that effort really worth it?

It’s not the easiest decision to make, especially if the breakup itself was really tough. So to help you determine whether or not it’s worth it to stay friends with an ex, here are some questions you should be asking yourself.

How long has it been since the breakup?
“After a break-up, it’s important to have space for yourself,” Rachel Hercman, LCSW, tells The Date Mix. “Maybe you need to grieve, heal, and learn some lessons about yourself and about what you want out of a relationship. If your ex is still in the picture, you don’t get the chance to get that clarity.”

Once you’ve given yourself enough time to really heal and find your sense of self, then you can clearly assess whether or not a friendship can work.

Why do you want a friendship with them?
If you want to be friends with an ex, you need to be completely honest with yourself about why you’d want to pursue a friendship. If you two no longer have feelings for each other but you still care deeply, a friendship may work. If not, it may get complicated.

“The friendship will be constantly rubbing in your face that you don’t have more than that, and you’ll be crushed if you hear them talk about their love life,” Suzannah Weiss, writer and sex educator, tells The Date Mix.

If you’re already in a relationship, it’s even more important to ask yourself why you need this friendship.

“You want to make sure you’re not emotionally cheating, which means you should really only be in the friendship for a friendship—not because you like knowing your ex is attracted to you,” Weiss says.

What does “being friends” mean to you?
Is it talking every other day and keeping up to date on each other’s lives? Or is it texting and catching up from time to time?

“It’s important to understand what ‘being friends’ means to each person as it differs from person to person,” New York relationship counselor, Jackie Bencivenga, tells The Date Mix.

Do you really need them in your life again?
As painful as it is to have someone not be a part of your life anymore, Bencivenga says, “Life will go on.” It doesn’t matter if you’re still friends or not.

Will this make me happy?
Your happiness matters. Only you know yourself. If you feel like staying friends with your ex will only make you confused, frustrated, and upset, it may not be worth it. But if you feel like a friendship with your ex will make a positive addition to your already great life, go for it. At the end of the day, it all depends on you.

Kristine Fellizar

Kristine is a Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in topics related to sex, dating, health, and wellness. Her work can be seen on Bustle, HelloGiggles, AwesomenessTV, and Brit.Co, among others.

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