Can Exs Be Friends And Get Back Together?

Remaining friends after a breakup can initially seem like a great idea. You get to quell the terrible sense of waste that denotes a failed romance (it wasn’t all for nothing, it can’t all be for nothing!), and the promise of friendship also provides a hopeful emotional life-line should the burden of singledom prove too arduous.

But hang on a minute, does that sound like the back-bone of platonic friendship to you? And if it isn’t, where is it going to take me, and what is it going to do to my chances?

The Soft Breakup

On the dumper’s side, staying friends offers a glaring set of benefits, unless they are being suffocated (in which case expect them to disappear or become indifferent instead of friendly).

  • Breakup guilt is reduced.
  • They are able to keep their romantic options open and can still count on their ex for a measure of affection and support.
  • They get to avoid acute separation grief and potentially traumatic confrontation.

On top of all this, a dumper may well have subtly moved-on well before giving the dumpee the “bad news”, which means they may genuinely desire the emergence of a  platonic relationship in the ashes of the breakup. After-all, breaking up does not necessarily signify the end of love, although it may herald the end of romantic desire (a distinction which can be highly confusing for the dumpee).

The problem with all this is that the chance  that a dumper and dumpee are on the same emotional page immediately after separation is so rare, that any and every reason for attempting to stay friends will usually end in misinterpretation and resentment (sooner or later).

If staying friends with your ex is conditional, meaning that you are not open to the notion of having light-hearted discussions about their future romances (for instance), then let’s not call it friendship. Because it isn’t. What it is, is a last-ditched effort at hanging on for dear life.

The Chance Of  Getting Back Together

Then of course, we have the apparent virtues of friendship from the dumpee’s perspective:

  • The lines of communication remain open.
  • The feeling that you still have a say in their lives (that your enduring presence can prevent them from drifting away).
  • That contact which is initiated by the dumper, or reciprocated by the dumper is a potential sign they may be coming around. A highly addictive and draining cycle of over-analysis which will cement insecurity but continue to offer an outlet for hope.
  • The overall fueling of hope, and the distancing of grief.

I personally happen to feel that when it comes to getting back together, none of these points are of any real value in terms of rekindling attraction and repairing romance because they are all products of insecurity. Instead of attempting to keep the relationship glued together with anything you can, consider the benefits of letting the offer of friendship slip for the moment.

Improving Your Chances

  • Opting for space and time apart will give your ex the chance to miss you. If real, objective remorse over the breakup happens, it will not occur if you they continue to take your affection and attention for granted. They must be given the chance to know what life without you entails.
  • Time apart will balance the emotional equation in your favor (if you are the one who was dumped). Time will promote healing passively, and usher in objectivity, giving you more control over friendship or reconciliation later on.
  • Time apart will not hinder your chances at friendship “tomorrow”. Nor is it a betrayal of the history you helped build. If anything, it is a sign that you cared enough not to jeopardize it.

None of this means you have to forgo contact entirely. But it does mean erecting strong barriers aimed at protecting your feelings by promoting honesty. If tapping into a play-by-play highlight-reel of your ex moving on is something that we cannot digest, we should avoid putting ourselves in exactly this situation (and it will happen!). By unconditionally giving our exs both their romantic freedom and our friendship, support and attention, we are unwittingly giving them the best of both worlds at our own feelings’ expense. They have you, and anything else they want, at the same time — why would they want to change that?

Masquerading behind a facade of platonic friendship in an effort to stave off insecurity will destroy your chances of getting back together far quicker than putting yourself first ever will.

About the author

James Nelmondo

James "the Unknown" Nelmondo is a self-styled relationship enthusiast, former infant, part-time dumper and full-time dumpee.


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  • Hello. I’ve broke up with my ex for a year now. We broke up due to my insecurities and possessive attitude. And i do regret it! The thing is, I never stopped contacting him. And throughout the year, we had some fights here and there. And sometimes, he did text me nicely and there are certain times that he just ignored me. But I still keep contacting him saying hello and all, even for today.

    The thing is, I’m starting to feel that he is beginning to be away from me. And it makes me feel so sad and lonely. To be honest, I don’t want to lose him. And yes, I do want him back. Even if he is starting to ignore me.

    Do you think it is too late for me to apply the No Contact rule to get his attention back? It’ll be hard for me to do so, but I would do almost anything to have him back. Or is it that, I have lost the chance to get my ex back forever?

    I really don’t know what to do. I am scared of the fact he might meet someone else as he is having a good time going to the clubs almost every night. I really cant accept the fact that he’ll be in someone’s else arms.

    Please help me. I am so clueless now.

    • It’s never too late to apply the no contact rule Lilly, but there is no guarantee that it will serve to get his attention back. I know many articles/websites and authors swear by its efficacy as a “get them back” tool, but I really don’t think that is it’s purpose. It’s primary purpose is to get us back and to reduce, diminish and relativize our emotional dependency on the objects of our love. I don’t mean to sound patronizing! It’s just my opinion, and I could be completely off the charts.

      Does he know how you feel about reconciling?

  • Yes. I did tell him so many times. There are times tht he shows a good response. But the next minute, he will change his mind and ignore me. But lately, it seems to get worse. He only replied to certain texts. And the worst thing is, he starts to talk about his first love.

    All the begging, pleading.. Didnt work at all. Its making me feel sad and frustrated. I want him to see that I am able to change my attitude and be better. How can I do that if I stop contacting him?

    • By giving him space you will actively by showing him that your attitude has shifted from, as you say, “begging and pleading” to one which encapsulates emotional self-sufficiency. By breaking this pattern of behavior you will demonstrate change without communicating it. Making it much more believable than simply using words.

      Think of the effect that his increased distance has had on you. Has it catalyzed or diminished your desire to reconcile? Space will rarely stifle anyone’s desire for reconciliation, unless there is no genuine desire to do so, or other aspects such as pride interfere.

      If complete and utter silence is not manageable, even reducing contact may make him wonder what changes are occuring on your end of life, the same way a reduction in his contact has sparked you to ask the same question.

  • I was determined to maintain ”friendship” as offered by my recently departed ex. We tried it and it was an unmitigated disaster. I didn’t want the breakup, he did, although he, by his own admission, remains confused, unsure and still loving me. In the end, it was me who became the emotional support for the breakup, thanks to everyone else we know either keeping out of the way, or offering (all the same) opinion that he had made a huge mistake.

    this week, having realised this was not going to work due to our different perspectives, he suggested, and we agreed to a clean break for an unspecified length of time – mostly likely not forever as we are in the same work and social circles so at some point will have to cross paths on a regular basis again.
    Can exes be friends? the age old question isn’t it…I say, no, probably not. Because why would you?

  • I had to learn the hard way that friendship after a break up is a bad idea!

    You are only providing the ex a safety net being in the picture, and in their eyes you lose your value, from my recent experience it is not worth it. Not to mention the mind games that come with it, a never ending trail of guess work and hurt. And now that the tables have turned, its just a mess.

    I agree that the only way as I have learnt in the past, is to keep moving forward with your healing and space, if they come around at a later stage, depending on the circumstances, you may or may not want to open the doors when the opportunity strikes.

    Great reads, thanks!

    • Terry, thanks again for your insightful feedback! I agree with you, although I do believe that friendship can eventually happen, but only once the dust has settled for both (and herein lies the problem).

      The problem is that while romance can glide naturally for some into platonicism, it rarely does for both concurrently, at least in a constant and enduring way. I do know couples that have maintained friendship after a bitter breakup, but this kind of reconciliation usually happens quite a ways down the line.

      Personally, knowing myself, I know that even if feelings tend to fade, they have the remarkable ability to flare up unexpectedly, and so I prefer a clean cut. To each their own!

  • Recently my boyfriend and I departed ways due to our careers but we agreed to be friends but I really want us to be back with each other in the future we promise nothing wouldn’t change between the two of us it’s just we would not have sex we agreed to still travel the world together and etc I’m trying to figure out in the future would it happen again