Staying friends with your ex: positive move or bad idea?

Love is never easy. When a relationship ends, friendship can seem like the holy grail – an easy, solid choice with none of the stress of actually being a couple.

We’ve all seen it happen to a friend, a family member or even a celebrity couple. After a break-up this mythical pair appeared to seamlessly transition into an easy friendship with their ex. How did Bruce Willis and Demi Moore do it? Or Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom? Do they not still have feelings for one another? Is it all just an act?

It can be hard to tell whether staying good pals after a split is definitely a possibility, or if it’s just the exception to the rule. Whatever the case, it’s not going to be an option straight away, and it’s not going to work for everyone.

A break-up is a huge time of change for both parties, no matter how amicable the split was. It’s not just the lack of intimacy or passion that can sting, it’s the loss of comfort too. You’re left without your best friend, the shoulder you cried on, the person you vented to after a bad day. When you are trying to adjust, staying in touch and “checking in” with each other can seem like the only way to get through it.

But staying friends is not always the answer, and it definitely shouldn’t be done without taking some time to think. There is a huge transition period after a split, and both of you need space and distance to work things out by yourselves.

Down the line, when you have regained some of your independence and sense of self, you’ll be better able to consider opening yourself up to a platonic friendship with your ex. We’re not making any strict rules here, but a minimum of half the duration of your relationship seems like a solid amount of time to wait.

No matter how much you might miss your ex though, staying friends just isn’t for everyone. Firstly, take into account how your relationship ended. If it was a toxic, angry finish, being pals might never be an option. But really, why would you want to remain pals with someone who made your life a misery? On the other hand, if things ended civilly, you two could have a chance of keeping in touch as buddies.

Another key thing to consider is what both parties actually want from the friendship. If you know he’s hoping for a reconciliation, and you’re just keeping in touch to soften the blow for him, that’s never going to work in the long run. For example, what’s going to happen once you move on and find someone new? But if you both truly enjoy the other’s company and want to maintain a level of closeness that doesn’t involve romance –  or sex! – it might just be worth giving things a go.

After a tough break-up, it can feel like we’ll never fully move on. But whether or not you keep in touch with your former partner, know that things will get easier, and that you’ll slowly start to come out the other side a new, stronger person. It just takes time – and lots of it.