4 Warning Signs You're Not Quite Ready To Be Friends With Your Ex

Tell the truth. Are you secretly hoping to get back together?

Ex couple, attempting to be friends but embracing with more than 'friend' feelings cottonbro studio | Canva

"One of my most memorable rock-bottom moments came on a rainy Saturday night when my ex-girlfriend stopped by. We were trying to be friends, which was a disaster because we weren’t friends—we were former lovers trying to “act like” friends. And, at the time, I thought I could get her back… The truth was I couldn’t get her back because she didn’t want me anymore.  Admitting that really hurt, but I needed to see the truth before I could move on." — from my book Letting Go of Your Ex


RELATED: How To Deal When Your Friends Are Friends With Your Ex

As a clinical psychologist with expertise in relationships and addictive behavior, people often ask me whether they can be friends with an ex after a breakup. Like most things involving human relationships, the real answer is that it depends. 


Being “friends” with an ex-lover can be a very slippery slope, full of relationship dynamics and emotions that can make it really tough.

If you are thinking about trying to be friends with an ex but are unsure, here are four signs that you’re probably not ready. At least not yet.

1. You’re still in love. 

If you’re still romantically fixated on or madly in love with your ex, it’s going to be really hard to transition into a platonic friendship. Maybe someday you’ll be able to be friends, but it isn’t today.

2. You’re still sexually active with them. 

Being friends means you're not romantic or sexual partners. In addition to being used as a tool to get attention from your ex, sex, and orgasms release hormones and neurotransmitters into your body that can make you more attracted and attached to them.

In the long run, having sexual contact with an ex often makes it even harder to move on.


RELATED: 8 Things To Consider When Dating A Friend's Ex

3. You want to get back together. 

If you’re currently broken up, something about your relationship wasn’t working for you, your ex, or both of you.

If you’re trying to be friends because you’re secretly hoping to get back together, pause.

This may keep you holding onto a false hope — only try to be friends if you can honestly live with the truth that you’re not together.

4. You’re pursuing a friendship out of guilt or insecurity.

If you broke your ex’s heart, you cheated, or you’re uncomfortable being single, and the guilt or insecurity is driving your desire to be friends with your ex — pause. These are not the healthiest reasons to be friends.


Pursue a friendship because you truly like your ex and want them in your life.

4 signs you're not ready to be friends with your ex

Whether you and your ex are capable of shifting from being romantic partners to “platonic friends” is a question only you can answer.

In general, if you decide that keeping your ex in your life negatively affects your well-being or theirs—you feel sad, anxious, emotionally reactive, stuck in the past, pining over a former lover—it’s probably not possible to be friends in a healthy way.

Taking time and space from an ex after a breakup is part of the healing process for most people.


Over time, you may reconnect as friends, should you both be ready.

RELATED: 5 Skills That Shift Angry Ex-Lovers To Close, Loving Friends

Cortney Warren, Ph.D., ABPP, is a clinical psychologist and adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV). She is also the author of Letting Go of Your Ex and Lies We Tell Ourselves.