10 Times You Should Definitely Stay Friends With Your Ex

Maintaining any kind of civil relationship with an ex can be tough, but in some cases, forming a friendship once you’ve called it quits is totally acceptable. While some couples haven’t the slightest desire to speak another word to their ex, others are more than capable of keeping the peace. You don’t have to be best buds, but it may be in your best interest to at least remain friendly. Here are 10 times you should stay friends with your ex.

1. You actually want to be friends

Couple drinking coffee

If you like spending time together in a non-romantic way, friendship could be in your future. | iStock.com/ArthurHidden

We’re starting off with this point because it’s a prerequisite for each and every situation that follows. At no point should you ever attempt to force a friendship with an ex if you’re not truly interested. The fact that your family still loves them, or that you’re simply feeling lonely and missing their companionship isn’t reason enough.

2. The relationship ended on a positive note

man and woman holding hands while crossing the creek

Not every breakup involves screaming and tears. | iStock.com/jacoblund

Barring any extreme circumstances, such as abuse or infidelity, a relationship that’s ended on a positive note definitely has a shot at friendship. Naturally, it’s fairly uncommon to want to be around your ex while the wound is still fresh, regardless how amicable the breakup. But that doesn’t mean there’s no chance of being friends down the road.

3. You had a good support system over the course of the breakup

beautiful young women strolling on a beach

A good support system might better prepare you for a friendship with your ex. | iStock.com/jacoblund

Granted your relationship ended on a somewhat cordial note, you and your ex stand a chance of being friends in the future — so long as your family and friends were there to help you get over the initial heartbreak. There’s even science to support it. One study found couples who had better resources, including a strong support system, over the course of the breakup had a better chance of remaining friends after splitting.

4. You’re completely over your ex

Two women looking at New York skyline

And we mean 100% over them. | iStock.com/oneinchpunch

Pursuing a friendship with an ex before you’re actually over them isn’t a good idea. If you think there’s the slightest chance you’ll get back together, heed caution. Hoping you’ll rekindle a romance isn’t just asking for trouble, it’s welcoming potential heartbreak — again.

5. You were friends before you started dating

young couple in the morning

If you were friends first, you might just be able to pull off a friendship. | iStock.com/Ivanko_Brnjakovic

It’s possible to stay friends even if your partner isn’t someone you were close to prior to dating. But on the other hand, you might have a better chance at a post-romantic friendship if you were indeed friends before you were lovers. In fact, one study found couples who had a friendship prior to a romantic relationship were more likely to return to a friendship after the breakup. So, if you were buds before becoming partners, there’s hope for a friendship.

6. You took time apart after the breakup

Teenage girl going shopping

Even if you’re very close with your ex, taking time for yourself is an important step. | iStock.com/microgen

If you don’t give yourself time to heal from the fallout of a romantic relationship, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to ever truly be “just friends” with your ex. Instead of jumping right from partners to nothing more than friends, it’s important you give yourself and your ex sufficient time to heal. According to Smooth, “One of the first things you need to do is adjust to life apart from your ex. You both need this time to figure out how to live without that person constantly being around.” Only then will you both be ready to approach a new and different kind of relationship.

7. Your current partner isn’t threatened

young man carrying his girlfriend

Consider your new partner’s feelings before doing as you please. | iStock.com/jacoblund

It’s quite possible you have a new partner, and he or she simply doesn’t want you being friends with your ex. While you should be free to do as you please, pursuing this type of friendship despite your partner’s wishes isn’t doing much for the longevity of your current relationship. Even if you’ve assured your significant other time and time again that you are just friends with your ex, they may still have an issue. And that’s OK. Out of respect, you should leave that part of your life in the past. If your partner is totally fine with it, on the other hand, then go for it.

8. They’re related to someone in your family

Family and friends posing for a picture

In some cases, cutting ties entirely is tricky. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

Say your ex is your brother-in-law’s cousin. He was the best man at your sister’s wedding, and he’s not going anywhere, at least not when it comes to holiday dinners and family graduations. For this reason, it’s best to try to maintain some sort of civil friendship. So long as you don’t hate each other’s guts, the rest of your family will appreciate the effort.

If you two absolutely can’t stand being in the same room together, though, be sure to avoid any family events you know he or she will be attending. Instead, map out your yearly family visits in advance.

9. You have kids together

happy family father and child on meadow

You shouldn’t stay together just for the kids, but you will need to have some sort of relationship. | iStock.com/evgenyatamanenko

Whether you and your ex were ever married isn’t necessarily an issue. But if the two of you have children together, it will affect the nature of your relationship in more ways than one. Your ex will forever be the father or mother of your children, so shunning them for life isn’t exactly an option. If it’s possible, try giving friendship a shot. Not only will it make things easier for you both, but it will also set a good example for your children.

10. Your ex is reliable and has sentimental value

smiling young woman at a cafe table

If they’re the most trustworthy person you know, staying friends is actually a good idea. | iStock.com/jacoblund

Yes, it’s possible your ex has qualities you don’t want to see go. And therefore, they may be somewhat important in your life, even after the two of you have broken up. Psychology Today author Theresa E. DiDonato, Ph.D., discusses a study that determined people’s motivations for post-relationship friendships. “For some people, the qualities of an ex are too good to lose,” she writes. “Their humor, trustworthiness, or support, for example, couple with a shared history, make a compelling case to work through the transition and be friends.” So, keeping your ex in your life just may be worth it.