What To Do When Your Ex Wants To Be Friends

what to do when your ex wants to be friends with you

Does your ex want to stay friends with you? You’re not alone. This awkward situation happens to tons of people after a breakup.

Maybe they text you out of the blue or you run into each other and they suggest grabbing coffee to “catch up.” Your heart skips a beat. What should you do?

You’re tempted to say yes to be polite or avoid drama. But is staying friends best for you emotionally? Or will it just reopen old wounds and stop you from moving on?

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of staying friends with an ex to help you decide if you’re ready for friendship.

We’ll also give you tips for turning down their offer gracefully. Let’s dive in…

what to do when your ex wants to be friends with you


So your ex slid into your DMs with a “Hey, can we still be friends?” message. Before you respond, consider why they really want to stay in your life.

Here are some reasons why an ex might want to be friends with you:

1. They’re having trouble moving on: Some people have a hard time accepting that a relationship is over. Staying friends is a way for them to hold onto you, even if just a little bit.

2. They feel guilty: Your ex may feel bad about how things ended between you two and think that remaining friends will ease their guilt. Don’t let them string you along out of pity. You deserve better.

3. They’re keeping their options open: Unfortunately, some exes want to stay friends just so they can hook up with you when they feel like it or have you around as a backup plan in case they get lonely.

Before you accept their proposal, remember that you’re worth more than being someone’s second choice.

4. They genuinely care about you: In some cases, an ex may truly value your friendship and the connection you once shared. They respect you and want you in their life platonically.

This type of friendship can work, but only if you’ve both fully moved on and the feelings have faded.

The bottom line is you need to determine your ex’s motives before deciding if a friendship is right for you.

Make sure you’ve healed and their intentions are pure. If not, wish them the best and move forward.

Pros and cons of staying friends with an ex


Being friends with an ex can be complicated.

On the one hand, you have history and familiarity, but on the other, there are likely hurt feelings and emotional baggage.

Do the good times outweigh the bad? Will staying friends help or hinder you both in moving on?

It’s not an easy decision, so weigh the pros and cons carefully.


• You know each other well and shared good memories while you were together. Rekindling a friendship with your former partner can be comforting.

• It shows maturity that you can remain civil after a breakup. This is especially important if you have mutual friends or children.

• Staying on good terms with an ex leaves the door open to rekindling a romantic relationship down the road if you both want that.


• Reconnecting with an ex might lead to lingering feelings, resentment, or attraction, which can make a friendship difficult. It may prevent either of you from fully moving on.

• Your next partner may feel threatened by your friendship with an ex. This can cause issues in new relationships for both of you.

• Being friends with your ex can make you slip into old habits and patterns which is not healthy. A friendship needs new boundaries and dynamics.

• Seeing your ex date new people can be painful. Even if you want to be just friends, jealousy and hurt may arise unexpectedly.

Now that you know the pros and cons of being friends with an ex, ensure you make the right choice.

At the end of the day, you must do what feels right for you. But go into a friendship with your ex cautiously and be honest with yourself about your reasons for staying in touch.

Make sure it’s because you genuinely care for them as a friend, not because you’re clinging to the past or hoping to rekindle the romance.

With open communication and healthy boundaries, it is possible to be friends with an ex, but there are many pitfalls to watch out for.

The choice is not easy, so take your time in making the right decision for your well-being.

what to do when your ex wants to be friends with you


Remaining friends with an ex can be tricky.

You need to establish some ground rules to protect yourself and be clear in communicating your boundaries to avoid hurt feelings or confusion down the road.

Here’s what to do when your ex wants to be friends with you:

1. Define what friendship means to you

Think about what being “just friends” means to you and what you’re comfortable with.

Do you want to grab coffee once in a while to catch up or do you see yourself confiding in them like old times?

Be realistic about what you can handle given your history. Let your ex know if certain topics are off-limits or activities are too intimate.

Don’t feel pressured into anything you’re not ready for.

2. Set physical boundaries

When you choose to be friends with your ex, you need to limit physical contact with them.

Keep hugs brief, avoid cuddling while watching TV, and don’t hold hands.

Remaining physically intimate can reignite old feelings and confuse the current state of your relationship.

Be polite but firm in expressing what level of affection you feel is appropriate for friends.

If they don’t respect your boundaries, you may need to spend less time together.

3. Focus on making new memories

As friends, it’s important to create new shared experiences together rather than reliving the past.

Try new activities together like joining a fitness club, taking a cooking class, or exploring a museum you’ve never visited.

Building fresh memories will help establish your friendship as its own entity separate from your previous romantic relationship.

This can help reduce feelings of longing for the way things used to be.

Establishing a platonic friendship with an ex is challenging but can be rewarding.

However, if at any point the situation becomes painful or unhealthy for you, don’t feel guilty about pulling back.

You deserve friends in your life who respect you and support your well-being.

what to do when your ex wants to be friends with you


Becoming friends with an ex can be challenging, but it is possible if you go into it with realistic expectations.

The most important thing is to make sure enough time has passed for you both to heal and move on.

If the wounds of the breakup are still fresh, a friendship may do more harm than good.

Once you’re both in a good place emotionally and your ex is open to meeting up to catch up, accept their offer and see how it goes.

You can start slow by grabbing coffee or lunch together.

This takes the pressure off and allows you both to see if the spark of friendship is still there without the complications of your past relationship.

If that goes well and you both want to continue the friendship, establish some ground rules to keep things healthy.

Be transparent that you want to keep things strictly platonic. Avoid rehashing the details of your breakup or relationship.

While it’s important to acknowledge your history together, don’t dwell on it. Focus on who you both are now and the present aspects of your connection.

It’s also important to set boundaries. Don’t call or text your ex at all hours like you used to.

Make plans to meet up when you’re both free and communicate as friends would.

Be respectful of any new relationships either of you may have. Your friendship should enrich your life, not complicate it.

Maintaining your own separate interests and relationships will also help make the friendship sustainable.

While you can enjoy shared interests together, continue to nurture your own independent hobbies, activities, and other friendships outside the connection with your ex.

This helps create healthy space and balance so you don’t overwhelm each other. 

With open communication, mutual respect, and the right intentions, a friendship with an ex is absolutely possible.

But go slowly, keep it light, focus on the present, and maintain proper boundaries.

A healthy friendship with an ex can be a rewarding experience, as long as you make sure to follow the rules.

what to do when your ex wants to be friends with you


• Will staying friends complicate future relationships?

It can, if you’re not careful. Any new partners may feel threatened by your friendship, worrying you’re not over your ex.

Be open and honest with new partners about the friendship. Reassure them your ex is in the past, and you value your current relationship.

If the new partner still feels uncomfortable, you may need to reevaluate the friendship.

• How do I set boundaries?

Boundaries are key to a healthy friendship with an ex. Discuss expectations up front and set some ground rules.

Are you open to late-night phone calls or will you limit contact to occasional meetups? Be clear that the romantic relationship is over.

Avoid flirting or being overly affectionate and make sure you respect each other’s personal lives and new partners. If boundaries get blurred, pull back and reestablish them.

• Will the feelings come back?

This is tricky, as old feelings can resurface at any time. The more time that passes and the more distance you gain, the less likely you are to fall in love with each other.

However, there’s always a chance of relapse. Watch out for warning signs like increased arguments, jealousy over new partners, or a desire to get physically intimate again.

If feelings return and threaten the friendship, you may need to cut contact until emotions fade.

• How do we transition to just friends?

Transitioning from exes to friends takes time and conscious effort. Start slowly by limiting interaction and communication.

Do casual meetups in public places with little intimacy or alone time. Focus conversations on lighthearted topics, not the relationship or breakup.

Over time, as the painful emotions fade and you rebuild trust, you can gradually increase contact and do more friend-like activities together.

But be patient—a true platonic friendship could take 6-12 months to develop.

Staying friends with an ex can be complicated, but also rewarding.

By establishing boundaries, managing expectations, and giving each other space to heal, you can build a friendship that enriches both of your lives.

But if at any point the situation becomes unhealthy, don’t be afraid to walk away. Your well-being should be the priority.


Has your ex asked you to be friends with them? Maintaining a friendship with an ex-partner is doable.

However, you have to be careful and enforce solid boundaries.

Staying friends with an ex can bring up a lot of complicated feelings, especially if you’re still hurting and need more distance or you genuinely care for them as a person.

Either way, the healthiest thing is being real with yourself about what you want and can handle.

Don’t ignore your instincts or turn a blind eye to red flags just to keep your ex around.

And if trying friendship doesn’t feel right anymore, that’s okay too.

Sometimes, relationships don’t just work out, and letting go completely can be the best option for you.


Recommended reading:

10 Sneaky Signs Your Ex Wants You Back

9 Reasons Why You Should Never Go Back To Your Ex

How To Stop Thinking About Your Ex After A Breakup

About The Author

Jennifer Dagi
 | Blog

Jennifer Dagi is happily married to her best friend and the love of her life.

As a relationship coach, she is passionate about helping couples build healthy and happy relationships.

She strongly believes communication and intimacy are the most important ingredients for building a successful relationship.

Join her on a fabulous journey to improve your love life one step at a time and don't forget to subscribe for weekly blog updates.

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