Ex Friends

It turns out I am one of those strange creatures that can be friends with her exes. Actual friends, not just pleasantries over face ripping should you bump into one another in public.

Of course, it is not possible in all cases. There are exes whom I neither care about nor wish to care about, and there are exes whom I regularly hope I never have to see again. I am certainly not above holding a grudge for certain things. However, that all being said, a lot of the men I am friends with are exes to one degree or another.

The Single Date Mate

I have friends whom I have been on a date with. We met, they asked me out, I went. But for one or both of us there was just no romantic spark, but we got on really well. There are several of my male friends who fall into this category. So not technically an “ex” but certainly a former potential ex.

The Fling That Got Flung

Sometimes I have short relationships where, despite great sex and good times, we both know that there is nothing more to it and it is not going to develop. Once the sex part has been stopped for whatever reason, you’re left with a person who you have fun with and enjoy for the conversation as well as their body. Sometimes separating out the person you slept with and the person you chat to can be hard, but it’s not impossible.

The Relationship

This is the hardest. Recently a little collection of old boyfriends, some as far back as a decade, have popped back into my life. They’ve apologised for any wrong doings, and offered an olive branch of friendship. I have accepted it. Even my husband, whom for many people should be Enemy #1, is someone I enjoy the company of. We chat, we laugh, we tease and joke. Just because our relationship didn’t work doesn’t suddenly mean he’s not a person I share interests and sense of humour with. Just because he hurt me doesn’t mean he’s an evil human. He’s still him, he’s just someone I’ll (hopefully) not be married to for much longer.


If you want to try and be friends with an ex then there are certain things you have to be sure of.

You need to be sure you’re both not looking for more than friendship. I know that for me, one of my exes I find our friendship a little hard as part of me still holds a torch for him. If it is any more than a small part of you, and if the idea of them being with another woman makes your skin hurt and your chest pound, don’t try and be their friend. If they are only offering friendship as a way of getting back together, either as a relationship or just some sex, and you’re certainly not interested then you have to reject their offer. It can only work if you’re both on the same page.

If there are any unresolved issues for which you have not recovered, at some point it will get brought up. I could not have reached a point of friendship with my husband if I was still angry and resentful of him for leaving us. Some of my exes could not offer enough apologies or explanations to make me ever want to be friends with them, and because of that I wouldn’t try. You cannot suppress something that is deeply hurting within you enough to be friends with someone who caused that hurt. If you haven’t let it go, if you haven’t got over it, you’re not ready to have that person back in your life.

Was there nothing more to your relationship than sex? Then don’t bother. If you’re having affectionate feelings about an ex but can’t remember any time you enjoyed their company doing things other than sex, there’s no point trying to be their friend. You need common interests with an ex-friend just as much as you do with a regular friend. If you disagree on everything, except sex, or never have conversations, unless they’re about sex, then they’re definitely not friendship material. But that’s okay, some people can’t transition and it’s okay to leave the amazing sex (but nothing else) ex in the past where he belongs.

Perhaps the most important one is, does he want to be your mate? Or does he see you as a bit of a weird stalker? He might just be being polite but secretly worrying about whether you’ll slash his tyres if he deletes you from his Facebook friend’s list. If you always say hi first, if he regularly leaves your text messages unanswered, if he seems only to converse in small talk, take the hint and leave it. There’s no point forcing the issue. Friendships only work if you’re both invested in them, just like romantic relationships. If there is too much unbalance then it’s just not meant to be.

So this was my guide to being friends with an ex. Apparently I’m quite good at it as I have several. And if it isn’t working it’s okay to just stop calling. You don’t need a formal “break up” with an ex-friend like you do a boyfriend. Just drift. It’s okay. You tried it, you cared about them beyond being a boyfriend, but it didn’t work out. Move on and enjoy the friendships where it does work!


About J.J. Barnes

Author of The Lilly Prospero Series Writer and Podcaster at www.SirenStories.co.uk Blogger at Rose And Mum And More Contributor to The Huffington Post
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