In today’s video I tackle the age-old question: “when can (or should) you be friends with an ex?”

Being friends with an ex can present some complications. In today’s video, I offer a quick suggestion on how to know if it’s a good idea.

Transcript below

Zachary Stockill: Before I get started with today’s video, I’d just like to let you know that I’ve finally published my new workbook. It’s called The Breakup Recovery Workbook: Daily Writing Exercises For Surviving And Eventually Thriving Through The End Of A Relationship.

I’ve also just published my new online course, which I can’t wait to share with you. It was built to accompany the workbook and to go deeper into many of the ideas in the workbook. It’s called The Breakup Recovery Blueprint. You can find information about these new products in the links in the description.

So…

When is it possible or even advisable to be friends with an ex?

Man has been asking this question since the dawn of time. I’m sure women have been asking as well…

I don’t think there’s any universal answer to this question, despite what some people might try to tell you, and this question is quite interesting because people often have very different reactions to this question.

You’ll have some people telling you “leave the past in the past. A friendship is absolutely never possible.”

Other people try to tell you that you can be friends with your ex from day one of your breakup, depending on how your breakup went. So there’s a wide range of ideas out there on this question.

The question that I’ve arrived at that I need to ask myself whenever I’m considering rekindling a friendship, maybe with a girlfriend or someone I’ve been involved with in the past, and the question I often recommend to one-on-one coaching clients is:

“If I saw my ex right now walking down the street hand in hand with a new lover, deliriously happy in a new relationship, how would I feel?”

friends with an ex

I believe if the answer is anything other than either A, totally indifferent, or B, genuinely happy for them, and I think the word genuinely is very important there, genuinely happy for them… if the answer is anything other than one of those two things, one of those two answers, I don’t think you’re quite ready.

This might take time to get to this place where you’re either indifferent or genuinely happy for your partner in a new relationship.

For some people, it might take them only a month or two, or maybe even less. For others, it might take a year or two.

But I think it’s important to ask this question because as soon as your answer becomes one of those two things, either totally indifferent or be genuinely happy for them, only then I think a genuine friendship is possible without a sexual charge to it, without hurt feelings still lingering, without a sense of bitterness or loss or envy or frustration or anger in the air.

I really think if you want a genuine friendship with your ex, enough time needs to have passed to kind of let bygones be bygones and let perhaps the mutual attraction at least ease off a little bit, at least fade so you can genuinely have a friendship without upsetting new partners, perhaps either in their life or in your life.

And again, the time it takes you to get to this place will vary from person to person.

But I think it’s important to ask yourself this question before you begin to rekindle a friendship with an ex. “If I saw them walking down the street hand in hand with a new lover, deliriously happy in a new relationship, how would I feel?”

I worded this question deliberately and evocatively. I want you to actually imagine seeing them walking down the street, actually visualizing them with a new lover and really checking in with yourself. “

How would that make me feel genuinely? Would I really be okay with that? Would I really have a pretty calm reaction to that? And even better, would I feel genuinely happy for them?

I think if you feel genuinely happy for them in that scenario, it’s probably safe to rekindle your friendship.

I hope you found this video useful.

Again, I’d like to let you know about my new workbook, The Breakup Recovery Workbook, as well as my new video course The Breakup Recovery Blueprint.

Thanks for watching and I’ll talk to you again very soon.


Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.