This Simple Scientific Formula Will Determine If You And Your Ex Can Be Friends

Remember, unhealthy relationships result in unhealthy friendships.

couple selfie Irene Miller/ Shutterstock

A 2023 study shows two-thirds of adults choose to stay friends with an ex. Yet, more than 50% continued sleeping with them post-break-up.

Is that what real friends do?

As a breakup coach, I’ve heard all types of excuses why people stay friends with an ex.

The following discoveries will help you find out why it’s rarely possible to be friends with an ex — and under what circumstances it can be.


Unhealthy relationships result in unhealthy friendships. Healthy relationships can result in healthy friendships.

I’m always surprised when people come out of a completely toxic relationship and suddenly think they can have a healthy friendship with that same person.


What has truly changed other than the label?

You still have an interpersonal relationship and are still bringing the same wounds and triggers into this dynamic. Even more complicated, you’re now ex-partners.

RELATED: 6 Conditions That Must Exist For You To Be Friends With Your Ex

Before being friends with a toxic ex, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do you want to be friends with someone who might have cheated on you or lied to you?
  • Why do you want to be friends with someone who doesn’t respect you and treats you badly?
  • Why do you want to be friends with someone who can’t communicate properly or meet your needs?

If most people answered these questions honestly, they’d soon realize that they chose friendship from a place of lack and not abundance.


Having a healthy vs. unhealthy friendship with your ex truly depends on one factor: your intention.

You can’t have any healthy friendship if it’s driven by fear.

In the case of your ex, that might look like this:

  • Not wanting or knowing how to let go
  • Being scared of abandonment
  • Thinking you’ll otherwise be alone forever and nobody else wants you
  • Hoping the other person might change and we won’t realize if we don’t remain close
  • Worrying the other person might have a new partner soon if we don’t cling

Because the pain of a breakup is so intense, most people will choose to remain in contact because of fear.

RELATED: Why Being 'Just Friends' With An Ex Is Impossible


You’re also caught in a toxic friendship with your ex if you:

  • Regularly end up having sex with them
  • Keep sending or receiving "I miss you" texts
  • Think you’re the one who needs to support them through the breakup process
  • Receive "fire" or other flirty emojis as reactions to your IG stories or pictures
  • Hurt if they tell you about new lovers or partners

The last point is significant because you aren’t really good friends with anyone if you don’t talk about each other’s love life, right?

Having a genuine friendship is possible if you choose it from a place of power. Toxic relationships don’t ever result from this place, so I believe it’s hard to maintain a healthy friendship if you’re coming from one and nothing has changed.

Choosing to stay friends from a place of power might look like this:

  • Having grown apart and separated from a place of love
  • Having had a respectful and healthy relationship and wanting to maintain a friendship due to a mutual circle of friends
  • Choosing to stay friends because you want your kids to see you treat each other respectfully during family events

Conscious uncoupling is possible but as the term coined by Katherine Woodward Thomas indicates, you have to be extremely conscious of your intention and your triggers.

I think that’s currently around 5% of the world's population.

Deciding to stay friends "just because" is not conscious, and neither is trying to push a friendship upon your ex if that’s not what they want.

Consciously uncoupling takes two people who actively decide to stay on good terms and are both willing to work through their issues. More often than not, it takes a professional to guide them through this process.


RELATED: Crazy! How Science Can Predict If You'll Be Friends With Your Ex

These questions can help you decide if staying friends with your ex is a good idea:

  1. Would your friends and family agree that you had a loving, healthy, and respectful relationship with your ex?
  2. What is your intention behind the friendship? Why do you want to keep this person in your life?
  3. Notice the emotions, thoughts, and sensations in your body when answering the above questions. Do you feel a lot of sadness, fear, grief, or rather genuine love, joy, and gratitude?

Remember: Toxic relationships will end in toxic friendships. If nothing changes, nothing changes.


It’s no coincidence that every second person ends up sleeping with their ex and more than 50% have rebound relationships. Genuine friendships between ex-partners are rare.

Remember: It’s all about intention. Your intention creates your reality.

Stop leading a life based on fear. Choose power and attract even better people into your life.

RELATED: How To Get Over A Breakup — 20 Crucial Things To Do (& Not Do) After Breaking Up

Anja Vojta is a certified relationship coach and breakup expert. Reach her on her website.