Being Friends After A Breakup: Guys Say They Want To But They Never Do

I’ve had so many exes suggest that we try to be friends after our breakup, even when the relationship ended on bad terms. It sounds nice in theory, to be honest. We once had a deep connection and still care about each other, we just don’t work well as a couple anymore. However, despite how much guys proclaim that they want to stay pals, do you think that ever happens? Do they ever try? Of course not! In my experience, they never actually want to be friends after a breakup, so why do they bother saying they do?

  1. They say it to ease their guilt, not your pain. I was cheated on once. My ex told me that he couldn’t see life without me in it, which only enraged me further. If that was true, why did he ruin our relationship for sex with someone else? Honestly, I think that he just wanted to hear me agree to be friends. Whether he meant it or not doesn’t matter. Looking back, I think he said we should try to be friends because it made him feel less guilty in some kind of screwed-up way. No thanks.
  2. They don’t want to see you move on. I have a hard time believing that guys actually feel good about seeing their exes move on. They certainly don’t want to know that you have a new boyfriend or a new hookup or that you’re happy without them. A real friend is supportive of their friends’ milestones, achievements, and relationships. I just don’t believe that there are guys out there chomping at the bit to like and comment on their exes’ Instagram pics with new dudes.
  3. They don’t want to talk about your new dates/relationships. Similarly, they certainly don’t want to talk about how you’ve moved on. In addition to celebrating and supporting you, friends also listen to you talk about the happenings in your life. Your relationship with someone is usually a big happening and a big topic of discussion. I don’t know any exes who have willingly wanted to listen to me go on and on about my new boyfriend and our plans together.
  4. They’re just nosy AF. Listen, guys are just as nosy as we are. He doesn’t want to be your friend, he just wants to check up on you. If you broke up with him, he might want to be your friend so he can see if there’s room for him to weasel his way back into your life. If he dumped you, well, he’s just selfish. If he was a good guy, he would just let you live your life and move on.
  5. They can’t handle the fact that they failed at something. Especially if you were in a relationship for multiple years. The truth is, none of us ever feel good after we end a relationship. You go from spending a ton of your time with someone to not talking to them at all. It’s totally hard, but that’s life sometimes. Love is a huge risk and you might fail. I don’t know about you, but some of my exes couldn’t handle that our relationship failed. It seems to me that by suggesting that we try to be friends, they were just trying to make the failure less real.
  6. They want to keep the door open. Some guys think that even if you’re broken up, you can be intimate. Declaring that you’re friends now even though you’re not officially together kinda does that and in my experience, it makes things super complicated. I feel like if I just shut my exes completely out of my life, the hooking up wouldn’t have ever happened and the are-we-together-or-are-we-just-hooking-up-post-relationship crap that kept me from moving on never would have happened either. In other words, they might want to stay friends because they want to get back together.
  7. They want an acquaintance, not a friend. If you want to be with that person romantically and all they want is a friendship, the dynamic between you two will always be skewed. When he says “friends,” he probably just wants an acquaintance. Meanwhile, you want to maintain the bond you thought you two had. It’s not fair, it’s not right and it leads you to think something is going to happen even though it never will.
  8. Friends don’t treat each other the way he treated you. If you had a nasty breakup after your ex treated you really poorly as your boyfriend, are you confident that he’ll treat you better when he’s demoted to a friend? If you wouldn’t want a boyfriend who treats you like crap, why would you want him as a friend? More importantly, if he could stand to treat you like crap as your boyfriend, why does he think he deserves to be in your life as your friend? He doesn’t.
  9. It’s just something to say. When you’ve thrown in the towel on your relationship and you’re about to leave his place or he’s about to leave yours for the last time, what else is there to say in a heavy moment like that? Sometimes they say it to fill space, not because it’s true.
  10. You can’t be something you weren’t in the first place. Many of us get into relationships with guys who we aren’t friends with first. In fact, I think that’s the case for a lot of women. Sure, it’s normal to grow to have a friendship with your significant other over time, but many people don’t have a foundation of friendship in the first place before the romance and sex. As a result, no matter how much you intend for something to be simple, it’s really difficult to do without any basis for it. It’s time to cut the cord.

Why being friends with your ex after a breakup probably isn’t a good idea anyway

  1. It’s a slippery slope to an on-again, off-again relationship. You might think that you’re over your ex and there are no romantic feelings left, but we’re all drawn to what’s comfortable. All it takes is one night when one or both of you is feeling lonely and you decide that one last hookup wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Next thing you know, everything is super awkward because all those feelings you thought were gone come rushing back in and you’re suddenly not so okay anymore.
  2. It makes it really hard to move on. Let’s say you both have actually processed the breakup in a healthy way and agree that you really are better off as just friends. The problem is that you were connected romantically, which means you’ll never have a “normal” friendship moving forward. Any time you want to date someone else or get into another relationship, your ex is going to be right there reminding you of his presence and making it a lot harder (or at least a lot more awkward) to move on in your love life.
  3. It’s pretty disrespectful to your new partner. When you do eventually get into another relationship, what will your new boyfriend think about the fact that you’re pally with your ex? He’ll wonder if you’re not entirely over your past relationship or if there’s something weird going on there, and to be honest, he would be right to think that. Why else would you be clinging to the past like that?
  4. Being friends will be painful. Whether you think it won’t happen or not, someone’s feelings will be hurt in the end. When you’re hanging out, there will be times when you’re reminded of things that happened when you were a couple, both good and bad. You’ll get angry about old issues that resurface even in your platonic relationship or sad about happy times you shared that you no longer can because you’re not together. It’s a lot of unnecessary grief.
  5. Somebody’s always going to be hoping for a reunion. Whether it’s you or your ex, staying friends after a breakup is bound to leave someone wishing for another chance and hoping that eventually, things going well as friends might spark another round of romance between you. Chances are, things would end up exactly the same as they were the first time around and you’ll be right back where you started from. It’s better not to go there at all.
  6. What’s the point, really? Yes, it’s a lovely idea in theory to think that you’re both so emotionally evolved that you can translate a romantic relationship into a friendship with ease, but to what end? You likely already have a wonderful, supportive friend group full of people who are about you and who you love spending time with. What’s your point in keeping your ex around? You chose to end your relationship with him, so clearly he wasn’t that great. Cut ties and end it completely.
Marie is an ambitious millennial woman, leading a corporate life by day and doing her best to live, laugh and love.