Being Friends With An Ex You Still Love – 8 Things That Can Happen

Break up And Loss | | , Writer
Updated On: May 6, 2024
being friends with an ex you still love

Life doesn’t always unfold the way you dreamed it would. There are too many obstacles strewn in the path and sometimes you stumble. A romantic relationship not working out, no matter how hard you try, is one such unfortunate and disheartening example of life getting in the way of your plans. However, being friends with an ex you still love might be more painful than the breakup itself. Not all of us can pull off a Jessica Day and Nick Miller, can we? 

Let’s assume for a second that you’ve lost all romantic and/or sexual feelings toward your ex and are ready to embrace them as a friend. Even if your ex has been a best friend for years, you might still be unable to get rid of the memories that haunt you. Each time you look at them, it reminds you of a thing that couldn’t materialize. Sheesh! That’s a messy road.

Now think, can you be friends with an ex if you still have feelings for them? Some people can pull it off. They shove their feelings into a place of no return and continue being amicable with a person they still love. They might even have an ex that has been a best friend for years. While suppressing your feelings isn’t a healthy way of coping, such a state, if achieved through proper closure and honesty, is a great place to be, emotionally. 

8 Things That Can Happen If You Are Friends With An Ex You Still Love 

Are you still friends with your ex and overthinking whether it’s the right thing to do? We feel ya. As if being in love with an ex wasn’t already tough enough; being friends with them can augment your pain manifold. Whether you both work together or study at the same school, being friends with an ex is awkward and has plenty of complications. If both of you are a part of the same circle of friends, you’d have to pretend to be normal around one another for the sake of others.

When you see them with someone else, you would have to look the other way and pretend to not notice. When you see them looking at you, you would secretly hope they still reciprocate your love. If you can relate to all of these are instances, allow us to list down the 8 things that can happen if you’re friends with an ex you still love:

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1. You end up becoming the sidekick

What’s worse than being friends with an ex you still love but doesn’t love you back? That you become their sidekick. They parade you around like someone who cannot let go of them even after the relationship has ended. Admit it or not, you boost their ego. They’re in love with the idea of having someone who’s crazy about them at their beck and call.

It fuels their vanity and lowers your self-esteem. There are a few things you should never compromise on in your relationship. Your self-esteem is one of them. Nine out of ten times you will not end up as the hero if you’ve been their sidekick for a while. You will remain on the sidelines until they’ve found someone new.

They’ll soon be telling you how they cannot hang out with you anymore because their current partner is uncomfortable. What’s the point in being friends with an ex who hurt you? And can you be real friends with an ex? Are there any real reasons to be friends with your ex? That depends on what your definition of ‘real’ is – it surely cannot be having someone take advantage of you.

Bono’s take: If you want your ex to treat you with respect, you have to respect yourself. Even if you have an ex that has been a best friend for years, choose yourself and your dignity. 

2. You will never move on

being friends with an ex you still love

Isn’t it common knowledge that a person never forgets something that they keep revisiting? This is also the reason trauma patients are asked to move cities or make significant lifestyle changes. When you remove yourself from a situation, time heals your wounds by allowing you to forget a lot of things from your past. Moving on is imperative to the healing process.

Although this sounds a tad bit cruel, it is important to remove an ex you still love from your life. At the very least, you need to have clear boundaries for being friends with an ex. If you do not, you would be left riddled with complicated emotions and mental exhaustion. It leads us to this question: Can you be real friends with an ex?

Well, ditch the drama and give yourself some space. The time away from your ex would allow you to get your business in order. It would heal you better than being friends with an ex you still love. If you can’t forget them, try to maintain distance from them.

Bono’s take: Prioritize yourself and your healing, and then think about others. 

Related Reading: Can You Be Friends With Your Ex’s Friends?

3. They may label you their “best friend”

Playing mind games with an ex who is still in love with you has to be the cruelest trick out there. Is that what your ex’s behavior toward you amounts to? You could be turning a blind eye to a toxic friendship here. Even if your ex has been a best friend for years, you have to accept the fact that the dynamics are going to change.

am i over my ex quiz

If you’re still determined to be friends with an ex you still love, we urge you to at least pay attention to why your ex wants to stay friends with you. Do they call you their closest friend? Were you best friends before your relationship or is it just that your former flame has no one else to turn to? Are they so terrified of loneliness that they would rather stay friends with their former partner? If you answered all the questions with a ‘yes’, it’s time you moved on, honey. 

If your relationship has ended, it’s better to pick up the broken pieces of your heart and fix them yourself rather than let someone else play with them. You two cannot get back together even as friends.

Bono’s take: Your dynamics are bound to change after a breakup and it’s not wise to view them through the same rose-tinted glasses. 

Can you be friends with an ex?

4. Thoughts of them don’t leave your mind

A breakup calls for you to move on from your ex slowly and put yourself on the path to healing your broken heart. Ask yourself, are you impeding this natural order of things by being friends with an ex you still love? Staying friends with an old love doesn’t allow you to get over them and become accustomed to their absence.

In order to move on completely, you need to stop thinking about them. But here you are constantly trying to solve their problems; you worry if they’re making a mistake and are always checking if they’re okay. If they are on your mind forever, even if not romantically, it isn’t a fair deal to sign up for. If you find yourself getting distracted from your work, other relationships, and most importantly, yourself – it’s time to let go.

There are dangers of being friends with an ex that can wreak havoc with your emotional and mental well-being. Walk out on them if you catch a sniff of compromised mental health. To be friends with an ex if you still have feelings for them, you need an equally mature person at the other end. If either of you lacks that maturity, it’s best to put a pin in this friendship and reclaim your life.

Bono’s take: Follow the no-contact rule until you’ve healed from the breakup completely before you even consider the idea of being friends with an ex

Related Reading: Should You Delete Pictures Of Your Ex From Your Instagram?

5. It will kill you when they start dating someone else

Being friends with an ex you still love is hard as it is, but watching them start dating someone else? That pain is unfathomable. The question remains – what are you going to do about it? Sometimes it’s best to let go even if you’re deeply in love. Keeping yourself aloof and detaching yourself emotionally from them can actually help you move on.

On the other hand, being in love with an ex and witnessing them jump with both feet into a new romance is going to wound you emotionally. It will only feed the flames of jealousy and anger. Also, do not forget the elements of awkwardness and humiliation. 

You would end up hurting yourself more than your ex ever did. What are you going to say? How are you going to react? How would you pretend to smile while there’s a dagger plunged into your heart? If these questions have left you with a pit in your stomach, maybe it’s time to face the music. Is being friends with an ex healthy for you? You know the answer just as well as we do.

Bono’s take: Even if you’ve been friends with your ex all along, make a conscious effort to distance yourself from them once there is someone new in their life.

On Ex

6. You might start running away from social gatherings 

The weight of this friendship might become so overbearing that you start avoiding people altogether. Maybe your ex and you are a part of the same group. You’re so afraid to run into your ex and get hurt that you’ve conveniently devised a plan to avoid them all. But really, who is the one at loss here?

Not being friends with an ex is fine and justifiable, but running away from them will take a toll on you. Just because you cannot say no, you haven’t been able to gather the courage to let your ex know that you don’t want to be around them too much. If love is a shared feeling, why does the onus of pain fall on one? Let them know. Don’t shy away from telling them that you’re uncomfortable. Everyone needs closure to let go.

Maybe staying friends with an ex turns out to be a lot tougher than you imagined. If you think you’ve made a wrong decision, do not beat yourself up. More importantly, do not run away from the people who love you.

Bono’s take: If the friendship is beginning to hamper you mental health, gather the courage to talk to your ex and let them know you can no longer be in their life.

Related Reading: 9 Ways To Deal With Relationship Anxiety – Tips From Experts

7. You will hesitate in dating other people

If you’re sure about staying friends with an ex, be prepared for the hesitation it brings in dating other people. Maybe, you’re on the path of moving on but if you’re always in and around your ex’s dramas, are you really giving your own love life another chance? Say, you are interested in someone else and desperately want to wipe your slate clean. Well, you won’t be able to do it because of the unnecessary emotional baggage. Let your past be where it’s supposed to be and move ahead. 

Even if you do find someone new, being friends with an ex while being in a relationship can create its own set of complications. Will you truly be able to connect with your partner when you haven’t made a clean break from the past? Why not prioritize your new relationship instead and see where it goes? Even if your ex has been your best friend for years, you can’t stay single forever for their sake. Right? 

Bono’s take: Don’t miss your chance at finding love again because you’re still hung up on your ex.

8. You get back with your ex

We simply cannot rule out the possibility that your ex too might secretly have feelings for you. Maybe it’s been a while and neither of you is sure about the other’s feelings. You’re trapped in the friend zone because both of you cannot communicate. In this situation, you need to get over your inhibitions and clearly express what’s on each person’s mind. If you’re quite certain of the signals that they’ve been throwing your way, it’s probably time to act upon them.

Staying friends with an ex is your choice. To be more than that, you’ve got to make a move and test the waters. A friend of mine asked me a couple of days ago, “I try to make sense of what she wants. I am still in love with my ex and friends with her but I’m sure I want more. What should I do?” 

Here’s a simple answer: Set some boundaries for being friends with an ex. Why, you ask? It becomes easier to know what they want by the way they define their boundaries. If they’re uncomfortable with the distance between the two of you and you can sense it, it’s a good time to get back together. 

Bono’s take: It’s always a good idea to slow down and assess the situation properly. Do not read too much into things.

Related Reading: 9 Examples Of Emotional Boundaries In Relationships

Key Pointers

  • Maintaining a friendship with an ex can be extremely difficult. You need to set certain boundaries
  • Never compromise on your self-esteem or happiness in order to appease someone else, in this case, someone who is not even  your partner anymore
  • Put yourself above everything else and act accordingly
  • Take a step back to assess your feelings before you decide to get back together or move on
  • Allow yourself to heal, even if it means snapping chords with an ex who has been a friend for years

Can you be friends with an ex if you still have feelings for them? The answer to this question depends on the kind of person your former partner is and the nature of the relationship you shared with them – how they treat you, how they view you as a person and how important it is for you to be a part of their life no matter your position. Let us just sign off by reminding you that even if your ex has been a best friend for years, it’s never too late to say that you’re uncomfortable. 


1. Can you be friends with an ex you still love?

Being friends with an ex you love can be intimidating, to say the least. Being romantically attached even after the relationship ends can spell doom for your mental and emotional health if matters of the heart are given a free rein.

2. Why is being friends with an ex a bad idea?

Being friends with an ex might serve as an impediment in your process to survive the grief and pain of a heartbreak. Moving on is a significant step to getting started with your healing process. It is better to maintain distance from old flames to sustain your happiness and mental well-being.

3. Can being friends with an ex lead back into a relationship?

Yes, it can help you two get back together provided both of you are mutually ready for it. If both of you are still in love with each other and are eager to give things another chance, then your friendship can prove to be a stepping stone in your love life.

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