The questions of whether and how to stay friends with an ex-romantic partner can be both complex and universal.
Some people don’t even want to hear the name of their exes because of how messy their breakup was while others can’t be bothered about their exes because they have truly moved on to better relationships.
If you scan through different relationship websites that is devoted to crowd-sourcing answers to hard questions, for example you will see questions from men and women seeking advice on what it means to want to stay friends with their exes, whether to agree to stay friends, and whether to ask to stay friends.
To utter it during a breakup conversation is either a kind or helpful way to lessen the pain of parting or the cruelest part of the whole endeavor, depending on who you ask.
To some people, an attempt to stay friends may be a kindness if it suggests an attachment or a respect that transcends the circumstances of the romantic relationship, for instance. It can be a cruelty, however, when it serves to pressure the jilted party into burying feelings of anger and hurt.
And some would say that breaking someone’s heart and then requesting the continued emotional investment that’s inherent to an actual, functioning friendship is simply an unfair thing to do.
Some men and women spoke to heart Congress and revealed why they have remained friends with their exes:
Olufemi: I remained friend with my ex because I believe in keeping my options open
I stayed in touch with one of my ex girlfriends for years for the simple reason that I believe in keeping my options open so even though I was dating other people afterward. I kept in touch with her because you never know.
I do generally keep in touch with women I have dated in the past unless it is a crazy breakup and talking to the person might cause me harm. I have hooked up with some exes more than a few times when I was single again. Life shouldn’t be that complicated.
I don’t believe that breaking up with someone automatically means you have to be enemies or stop talking to each other. That’s being close minded. Some of my exes have helped me in some ways regarding my job and I am grateful that we remained friends after break up.
John: I date my friends so that when we break up, we go back to being friends
I have kept in touch with two of my exes and my current girlfriend who is awesome has met one of them and knows we used to date. But it’s not like what people might think. I used to just always end up dating my friends and so I was always friends with girls first. When we broke up we were able to go back to being friends. I prefer it that way. I am not up for complicating my life further by being enemies with my ex girlfriends. Life is a long journey, you don’t know where you might meet again tomorrow and under what circumstances.
Emmanuel: You can’t be fighting everyone you break up with
My university girlfriend is the only one of my exes that I have kept up with and we are really close friends. It’s not romantic at all but she’s somebody I can call when I have got something on my mind and she’s good for giving me a woman’s point of view when I need it.
She’s married with two children. I have met her husband on three occasions and she introduced me nicely. We maintain a friendship that has helped both of us become better people. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being friends with your ex. You can’t be fighting everyone you break up with.
Naomi: Be friends with your ex but be careful about being alone with the person
It always makes me laugh when I hear any of my brothers talking about staying friends with somebody they broke up with. I feel like that’s the lamest way to break up with someone and then sometimes, the friendship basically consists of never talking to them again except for trying to hook up with them when they are drunk.
A lot of girls don’t understand why guys do this. I don’t think it’s wrong to be friends with your ex. You just have to be careful about going too close to them again because old flames die hard.
Angela: I keep in touch with my exes at least once a year
I love all my exes. I try to keep in touch with them and chat with them at least once a year. We only talk through Skype or Facebook though because I’m sure it would be inevitable if we saw each other in-person — we’d hook up, which would be bad because we are all still in happy relationships.
I am a very practical woman. As a young woman, I told myself that I didn’t own any man and that if my relationship ended, I would move on with my life and feel peaceful in my heart because I bear no grudges against the men I dated.
Emenike: One of my ex girlfriends understands me in a way no one does
I am in my early 30s. I still talk to one of my exes. She understands me in a way that no one else does, and sometimes I just need to hear her voice, hear her opinion, and share thoughts together. I don’t know how she feels though about my sporadic calls from time to time to just chatting.
Vivian: I keep in touch with my exes to remind myself that I have options
I keep in touch with one of my exes. I have a terrible habit of texting him to check in whenever my current boyfriend and I get into an awful fight. I guess that’s why I keep in touch with them—to reassure myself that there’s always another option. It’s unreasonable and egotistical of me to assume that he would still be interested, but whatever. We can’t always be rational.
Peace: I don’t harbour bitterness against my exes
I have never really had a bad breakup where I would stop talking to someone entirely. And I generally would think that just because of the type of person I am, if I cut off all contact either it’s because you are the world’s biggest asshole or I’m probably still hurting.
I like to think I haven’t ever dated the world’s biggest asshole and as for the hurting, I may distance myself for a while, but I also like to wish people the best. And it’s cool to catch up with people you used to know at some point and see how far they have come.
You have to accept that some people were there to teach you something and that’s it. I still see one or two once in a while because we run into each other at places I go to, or visit, from time to time.
I don’t go out of my way though to see them or chat with them and I think they would say the say the same. But I try not to harbour any bitterness towards my exes. Things pass after a while. Emotions are fleeting and life goes on.