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How to Deal With an Ex Who Wants a Friendship

by K. Nola Mokeyane, studioD

Breaking off a relationship is difficult enough without the added complication of an ex who wants to remain friends. Counselor, attorney, relationship coach, media commentator and author Susan Elliott says that some exes have questionable motives when they insist on maintaining a friendship shortly after a breakup -- such as not wanting to move on -- which can hinder each party's personal growth. Remaining friends with your ex is not necessarily a bad idea, after you take some time to heal -- just be sure that this friendship is healthy for the both of you.

Be clear with yourself whether or not you want to maintain a friendship with your ex. It's important to put your needs first in this situation. Relationship breakups come with many emotional challenges, as both parties are left to cope with diminished hopes and expectations for the failed relationship, note health professionals at Help Guide, an online mental health resource. While your ex may be excited about maintaining a friendship, you may find that this doesn't serve your best interests.

Complete your healing process. Before you think about whether or not to befriend your ex, it's important that you take the time to heal from your failed relationship. Elliott says that couples who break up and then attempt a friendship before they've healed often create complicated and emotionally unstable situations. If you or your ex finds a new mate -- and either one of you still has feelings for the other and has not fully accepted that your romantic relationship is over -- then anger, jealousy and resentment could emerge in your friendship.

Be honest and clear with your ex. If you decide that you don't want to be friends, let him know with clear, honest and direct communication. If your answer is no, then simply say "no" -- there is no need to explain or justify your answer. At this point you should stop further communications with him via phone, email and text as well. If you decide that a friendship is an emotionally healthy and worthwhile option, then set clear parameters for your friendship -- such as no late night sleepovers -- so that your ex knows what to expect.


  • Tell your ex that you need to take time to consider whether or not the two of you can maintain a friendship if you're not ready to make a solid decision -- take as much time as you need to ensure that you make the choice that works best for you.


  • Don't accommodate your ex simply to keep the peace between the two of you. Don't hesitate to ask your ex to state his motives for wanting to pursue a friendship with you.

About the Author

K. Nola Mokeyane has written professionally since 2006, and has contributed to various online publications, including "Global Post" and Modern Mom. Nola enjoys writing about health, wellness and spirituality. She is a member of the Atlanta Writer's Club.

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