Can You Stay Friends With Your Ex After The Breakup?

One of the more popular approaches to getting back together involves temporarily changing your relationship from romance to friendship. The idea here is that you'll eventually get back with your ex, but for now the two of you can still see each other 'as friends'.

Friends after Breaking Up
Can you and your ex really be friends?

Theoretically, this seems like a pretty good deal. There are many benefits to staying friends after the breakup, and it initially looks like there's very few drawbacks.

This might also be why staying friends with an ex boyfriend or girlfriend after breaking up is such a popular idea. Everyone tries it at one point or another, and usually with mixed results.

But what if you still want your ex back?

Can you use your post-breakup friendship as a tool to get back together with your boyfriend or girlfriend?

And in the end, just how hard is it to make the transition from friends back to lovers?

Before you agree to be friends with your ex, it's good to know the answers to these questions. For the most part, they're a lot harder and trickier than you might think.

Understanding what happens to your relationship once you try to befriend your ex can be one of the more important steps (or missteps) you take along the road to getting your ex back. It can make or break the future dynamic between you, and it can leave permanent marks on the surface of any potential romance you might have if you're not extremely careful.

Biggest Misconceptions About Staying Friends With Your Ex

So you're sitting there stunned, unable to move as your boyfriend or girlfriend polishes off the end of your breakup speech. And as you're emotionally reeling, trying to figure out what to do next, the following phrase drops effortlessly from their lips:

"I don't want to lose you completely. We can still be friends."

If you're still in love with your ex, these are some of the deadliest words you'll ever hear. This is because you'll probably jump at such an offer, grasping for this one tiny connection like a drowning person grabs for the smallest piece of driftwood in the middle of a big wide ocean.

In staying friends after the breakup, you'll think you can accomplish a lot of things:

• Since you're still friends, staying in touch with your ex will be easy.
• As friends, you and your ex will still be able to hang out together and see each other.
• Because you're still close with your ex, you'll be able to keep an eye on what they're up to.
• Being friends will actually bring you closer to your ex, without the heaviness of a relationship.
• If you can get along as friends, you can remind your ex about how much he or she still loves you.
• Over time, your ex will realize that they'd rather have you back as a girlfriend or boyfriend.

In reality however, most of the above ideas are pure fantasy. The post-breakup 'friendship' you develop won't be much of a friendship at all, but rather a very hollow shell of the relationship you once had. As time goes on, the slow deteriation of what's left will leave you bitter and empty. Communication with your ex will wane, and as your ex ignores you more and more you'll start to feel angry and betrayed.

There are counter techniques you need to employ when your this type of thing happens, and knowing what they are will save you from making some major mistakes when it comes to getting back together.

Let's run down the list in more detail, and try to understand why you can't be friends with your ex:

Myth #1: Staying friends with your ex allows you to still keep in touch

Bullshit. You might try to keep in touch, but compared to your previous relationship you'll feel as if your ex boyfriend or girlfriend is totally ignoring you. The level of contact will be so significantly lower that you'll quickly feel taken advantage of.

Any contact you do have will be awkward, especially since you're still in love with the person and ultimately want them back. As you reach out, everything will feel very one-sided. You'll start to feel as if your bothering your ex, and of course this shouldn't be the case of you were truly friends with each other.

Myth #2: After the breakup you can still hang out with your ex as friends

Think so? Because hanging out with someone you used to date is rife with tension and unresolved issues.

Seeing Your Ex Boyfriend or Girlfriend
Hanging out with your ex; the epitome of awkward.

In a group setting you'll be watching your ex's every move; you'll get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach every time he or she talks to someone of the opposite sex. You'll be terrified of your ex showing interest in someone else, but since you're nothing more than a friend you're required to smile, be happy for them, and not interfere.

In a one-on-one situation there's always the issue of your past relationship looming over everything you try to do together. Residual feelings and leftover emotions will hang heavily over any type of platonic connection you're trying to make. Physically you could even still be attracted to each other, and since you've already had sex numerous times it could lead to some very awkward situations.

Being your ex boyfriend or girlfriend's new "friend" forces you to ignore your own romantic feelings and pretend to replace them with those of friendship. Yet everything you do around your ex will be geared toward trying to attract them again. Worst of all, you'll think you're keeping these feelings to yourself... biding your time and waiting for the right moment to reveal them. But no matter how you try to mask that fact that you're still in love with them, your ex will always know it.

Myth #3: Being friends with your ex enables you to monitor their social life

To a point, the new friendship you've developed with your ex boyfriend or girlfriend entitles you to be a part of their life. That said, you won't be privy to anything your ex doesn't want you to know about - namely, when he or she decides to date other people.

Your ex will protect his or her new relationship by masking it from you for as long as possible. When you do eventually find out, you'll act all hurt and wounded that they didn't confide in you 'as a friend'. Truth be told, you both know why this is. Your ex isn't required to explain themselves or ask permission before moving on, and you're only going to be upset by the fact that he or she is potentially dating again.

Being friends with your ex will drive you absolutely crazy with jealous in such a situation. It will hurt a thousand times worse to watch your ex boyfriend or girlfriend's new relationship blossom right before your eyes, rather than NOT have a front row seat to what they're doing next.

Myth #4: Without the pressure of a relationship you can actually get closer to your ex

In theory, this idealogy would be true. Freed from the rules, regulations, and obligations of an actual relationship, you and your ex could probably get along a lot easier.

The problem however, is jealousy. Your ex would hang out with you one day, and the next day you might not even be able to get them on the phone. In a true friendship, this would be no big deal. But since you still have feelings for your exboyfriend or exgirlfriend, you'll feel slighted and rejected by this lack of contact.

Remember, friendship is a demotion. You're effectively admitting that you're not good enough to date, but still good enough to hang out with or talk to from time to time. Being friends with your ex will never put things back the way the were, and in fact it will drive you further and further apart as you each go on to start living separate lives.

Myth #5: Being around your ex will eventually remind them of how much they love you

Believe it or not, just the opposite is true. Because the longer you stay friends with your ex boyfriend or girlfriend, the further and further removed you become from their romantic life.

Staying Friends after Break Up
Transitioning from friends to lovers; harder than you think

Your dating history becomes just that: history. As time goes on you get stuck with that platonic label of "just a friend". This is how your ex will introduce you to everyone, including his or her new love interest when they start dating again.

The only thing that will remind your ex of your past relationship is you staying true to your honest feelings. You can't trump up some pretend friendship with your ex boyfriend or girlfriend with the hopes of magically transitioning from friends back to lovers. This happens in movies, sure, but not in real life.

Only by being honest with yourself - and with your ex - can you hope to one day get back together again as a real-life couple, and not as a pair of friends who once dated each other so very long ago.

Myth #6: If the friendship is going great, your ex will suddenly want to date you again

Let's think about that statement for a moment. Assuming you broke up due to relationship difficulties, and then demoting things to friendship suddenly makes the dynamic between you much better, why in the world would your ex want to go back to dating you again?

Wouldn't the same old problems that broke you up only resurface again?

Maybe, or maybe not. In either case, that's what your ex thinks will happen, and this will prevent them from wanting to get back together. After all, why screw up a good thing?

And hey, let's examine the things you're giving your ex boyfriend or girlfriend during the friendship:

• Constant contact whenever they want it
• Companionship, advice, communication
• Someone to hang out with and do cool stuff
• Possibly even sex (a.k.a. "Friends with benefits")

You ex gets all these things by you being friends with them, yet without any of the burden of commitment. There's no heavy relationship rulebook: your ex isn't required to go to weddings or family events, or even to call you every single day if they don't want to. After all, you're just friends.

Adding all of these things up, why would your ex EVER want to risk them by getting back into a relationship with you? He or she is in the most comfortable of all possible arrangements, and they're going to stay there for as long as you make it comfortable for them.

What To Do When Your Ex Wants To Be Friends With You

Okay, so you can't be friends with your ex if you want them back. But what should you do?

The good news is that handling your ex's offer of friendship leaves you an excellent opportunity to turn things around. By doing and saying the right things, you can implement some great counter-rejection techniques that will have your ex suddenly wanting you back. Remember:

Your goal is to make your ex want you not just as a friend, but as a boyfriend or girlfriend again.

Your Next Move:   Learning how Refusing To Be Friends With Your Ex will help get them back.
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