Photo by Barna David

So you went through a painful breakup and now to make matters more confusing your ex wants to be friends…

Which leaves you wondering, “But WHY do they want to be friends?”

What are their intentions, and what do they really want with you?

Things are difficult enough as they are for you after the breakup, and maybe you’re not sure if you want to get tangled up in a potential mess with your ex.


You’re hopeful that their desire for friendship is a hidden desire for reconciliation, and that maybe you’ll get back together.

In this post, we’ll get to the bottom of it all and answer:

  • The biggest reasons why your ex wants to be friends
  • What you should do if your ex wants to be friends
  • Related questions you guys asked

Beginning with…

Why Would My Ex Want to Remain Friends – 10 Reasons

There are a multitude of reasons why your ex can want to remain friends.

I’ve listed all the most important ones that you will want to watch out for here.

Be warned, some of these might be a little hurtful.

But it’s critical to be prepared to prevent them from potentially hurting you further!

You will have to be the judge of the character of your ex and know which reasons are a clear fit for their personal traits.

As well as which reasons to remain friends, you know they would definitely never do.

1. They Want to Keep You as Backup

Speaking of hurtful reasons why your ex might want to be friends, this is one of them.

If they are already in the dating pool again, but are keeping in touch with you on a friendship basis…

It might be because they want to keep you as a potential backup in case things DON’T work out with someone new.

That’s not fair to you!

When your ex is treating you like this, it’s a clear sign they don’t take you seriously, and you should move on.

2. They Aren’t Certain About the Breakup Decision

There are many factors that lead to a breakup.

Which is why it is often difficult to pinpoint exactly what led to it.

And because of this ambiguity, the decision to break up is typically made out of sheer emotional desperation.

For the fights and pain to stop…

So it makes sense that sometimes an ex isn’t certain about the breakup.

Once the dust settles, they might find themselves longing to see you again.

This can also be a reason why your ex wants to be friends with you.

3. Your Ex Is in Denial of the Breakup

When the dumper feels in control, and believes that they can get you back at any point if they so chose to…

They can typically be in denial of a breakup.

To them, it’s just a way of creating some distance and figuring out what they want.

Not that that makes it any easier on your heart.

This is a fairly common reason why an ex will want to be friends.

4. Your Ex Wants to Keep the Peace

If you and your ex share social circles or a workplace, they will likely try harder to keep the peace with you.

Since they will still be seeing you on a regular basis, and they want to avoid things being too awkward moving forward.

For this reason, they might make an additional effort to smooth things out and remain friends.

5. Your Ex Wants to Be ‘Friends With Benefits’

It’s never easy to let go of someone.

And sometimes an ex might no longer want to be in a relationship with you…

BUT still want to experience the comfort of intimacy with you.

This might leave you wondering whether men can sleep with women without developing feelings.

As hurtful as it may be, it is a common pattern we see in our coaching clients’ stories who then do get back together with their ex!

6. They Don’t Know What They Want Right Now

Maybe your ex is confused and lost.

They might even tell you that they don’t know what they want. That they need to figure their lives out for themselves without the constraints of a relationship.

But if your ex still wants to be friends with you, there’s a good chance they are doubtful they will find the answers they seek…

And they’ll want to fall back on you when they realize they STILL don’t know what they want, despite the absence of your relationship.

7. They Want to Absolve Themselves of Any Guilt

Dumpers often feel guilty when they break up with their partner.

After all, they have spent a lot of time with you, got to know you as a person and must care for you.

For this reason, an ex might want to be friends with you to try to ease your pain and simultaneously their guilt for hurting you.

8. You Offer Financial or Social Benefits

If your ex is on the narcissistic side of things, a reason they may choose to remain friends with you is…

For the financial and/or social benefits that you offer.

Watch out for this, because it is definitely not healthy to remain friends under these kinds of circumstances.

Your ex is just using you, and you might want to evaluate whether they are someone you should stay away from.

9. They Genuinely Value You as a Friend

When you are with someone for a longer period, you are not only partners…

You are likely also friends.

And sometimes that friendship is far too valuable for an ex to let go of.

Even if the two of you had a lot of tension and problems as a couple.

This is a reason an ex might want to remain friends with you.

But it can only work, if both parties are on the same page about wanting to be friends.

10. They Regret Breaking Up

If it’s dawning on your ex, that the breakup was not a good idea after all…

They might be regretting the breakup and want to remain friends with you to potentially reverse it!

This is of course the ideal scenario if your goal is to get your ex back and turn a friendship into a relationship again.

Have a look at the clear signs your ex is becoming interested again.

What Should I Do if My Ex Wants to Be Friends?

What you should do will depend on what you want.

If both you and your ex want to be friends, because you mutually agree that you don’t work as a couple but would make great friends, then it’s settled.

But if things are more complicated, and you want your ex back as a partner, you will need a rather different approach…

Evaluate What They Really Want

The reasons why your ex would want to remain friends with you, that I listed above, hopefully gave you some clarity as to what they really want with you.

Now, if they are adamant about really wanting a friendship and nothing but a friendship, you’ll have to reconcile with that.

However, if you’ve concluded that they are unclear themselves or somewhere in between, there are other avenues you can try.

But first…

Don’t Fear the Friend Zone

Most of our coaching clients fear that agreeing to become friends with your ex means that they’ll stop seeing you as a potential partner and you’ll be stuck in the friendzone with them forever.

This is one thing that you really don’t need to worry about.

Someone who has been attracted to you once, will always view you through that lens.

The chemistry that was between you, won’t vanish for many months to come.

Ask for Space if You’re Too Hurt About This

When your ex asks you to become friends, it can feel like they are rejecting you all over again. “Why would they ever suggest it? Clearly, it must mean they are completely over me already”

It’s not so simple. You likely don’t know what their true reasons and motives are just yet.

When this is the case, the best thing to do is to ask them for space, so that you can have some time to recover and evaluate it more.

You Can Agree to Be Friends Just to Test Them

If you’re comfortable with this, you can agree to be “just friends” with your ex for the time being.

Their intentions will likely become clearer to you in time. If they still have feeling for you, they’ll most likely start flirting and make a move.

And if they’re over you, then they likely won’t put much effort into keeping in touch and you’ll have your answer.

Get Yourself Back in the Dating Pool

If you are the person who has been broken up with, I recommend getting yourself back in the dating pool or at least going out to meet others.

It DOESN’T have to be anything serious.

But the reason it is important is that once your ex catches wind of this…

They will wake up to the fact that you are not waiting around and that if they want you back, they better make a move SOON!

Don’t Let Your Ex Leave You Hanging in Emotional Limbo

If your ex is continuously giving you vague statements to keep you in their sphere of control, cut it short.

It’s potentially a case of ‘Can’t be with you, can’t be without you.’

Again, though, you need to challenge them on what they actually want.

Don’t let them manipulate you by leaving you hanging in eternal emotional limbo.

At some point you might need to be the one who makes up your mind and says enough is enough, it’s time to let go.

Questions You Guys Asked

Here I’m answering additional questions you guys have asked to clarify things further.

If there’s anything I’ve missed, just let me know in the comment section, and I’ll get back to you!

Can you be friends with your ex and get back together?

Yes, you absolutely can be friends with your ex and get back together.

It is fairly common amongst couples to temporarily become friends and then get back together.

But this stage of friendship should not last longer than a month or two, before the decision to get back together is made.

Is it healthy to keep in touch with an ex?

If keeping in touch with your ex is not detrimental to your emotional or mental health, that’s perfectly fine.

But if it’s heart-wrenching and the space between you two is killing you, it is NOT healthy.

You might need to consider distancing yourself for your own well-being.

Why shouldn’t you be friends with your ex?

There are of course reasons that you should NOT be friends with your ex.

If they are using you as an emotional blanket or for financial and social benefits, you’ll likely want to cut ties with them.

Also, if staying friends with them, it’s just breaking your heart and causing you nothing but grief and pain, we should stop seeing them.

You don’t deserve to suffer or be strung along.

Instead, take some time for yourself and figure out what you want and how you feel about things.

Taking physical distance from your ex can help with that.

Should you be friends with your ex if you want them back?

Generally speaking, yes.

You see, exes often remain friends as an informal re-evaluation period.

It’s a way of adding time within which one or both parties can safely evaluate whether they want to be with each other.

But as mentioned there are many factors and things aren’t always so clear.

If you want some clarity with the situation with your ex, you should check out our one-on-one coaching calls.

SimplyTogether Coaching CallsHere will be able to take the time to figure out exactly what it is your ex wants and based on that create a strategy to get them back. (If that is what you want, of course)

Click here to check out Ex Back Coaching.

If you want more clarity on your situation with your ex, I highly recommend you also read: 13 Definite Signs a Dumper Wants You Back After a Breakup

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time.


Gabriel Brenner