Can You Be Friends with an Ex-Girlfriend?
Are you in a relationship but still feel like chatting with someone you used to date? It’s not uncommon. Lots of men I talk to end up in this predicament. Often, they ask me: Can I be friends with an ex girlfriend? Would it hurt my current relationship?
My answer to that: It depends. I’ve seen it work out fine, and I’ve also seen it blow up in people’s faces. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, so let me explain what I mean.
If you’re wondering, “Can I be friends with my ex-girlfriend?” you need to have two major things nailed down first.
Number one: You need to be okay with your girlfriend being friends with an ex, too. Fair’s fair, right? You can’t expect her to tolerate something you wouldn’t.
Number two: Everyone needs to feel secure about it. This means: You, your current girlfriend, and your ex-girlfriend must all feel totally comfortable with the situation. No icky feelings.
So if you’re hoping to stay friends with an ex, how do you make sure you have these two things in place first? Let’s dive in.
Becoming OK with Her Ex-Boyfriend
The first step to staying friends with an ex-girlfriend would be getting comfortable with the reverse: Your current girlfriend being friends with an ex, too. Does this freak you out? Then you’ll need to look into that deeply, face your fears, and realize why her being friends with an ex could actually be a good thing.
Why Their Relationship Freaks You Out
When I talk to guys about why they don’t want their girlfriends to stay friends with an ex, these are some of the biggest reasons they give:
- She’s seen him naked!
- Her ex wouldn’t be friends with her unless he wanted to get back together or at least sleep with her again.
- Nostalgia is tough to beat.
If this is how a man thinks, just know it’s not how a woman thinks. To get over your anxiety, you’ll need to see this from a woman’s point of view. So let’s go through these one-by-one.
Just because she’s seen her ex naked doesn’t mean she wants to continue doing so. If he’s an ex, he’s an ex for a reason. Plus, remembering what her ex looked like naked isn’t usually enough to make a woman run back into a guy’s arms. When was the last time one of your exes came back to you simply because she couldn’t stop thinking about your smokin’ bod? Okay, maybe once. But generally, it’s not a thing.
Even if the ex still has feelings or wants to sleep with her again, he already had his chance and blew it. They broke up. If he ever wanted to try something with her again, he’s at a big disadvantage now because she’s taken. And yes, you could say “nostalgia is tough to beat.” But again, if you’re with her now, then you’ve already beaten it.
The bottom line is this: Does her ex being in the picture threaten your ego? This is the real question to ask yourself. If it makes you feel insecure, then that insecurity is coming up for healing. Maybe there’s something you don’t like about yourself. Whatever the issue is, you have an opportunity for your own introspection and healing.
Is She Trying to Keep Her Options Open?
Becoming OK with your girlfriend being friends with an ex means you’ll have to confront this question. And believe me, I get why you’re uncomfortable. It kind of reminds me of that old Chris Rock joke, where he says a woman who stays friends with an ex is like keeping a dick in a glass case: “In Case of Emergency, Break Open Glass.”
So, should you be worried? Does she secretly want to keep her options open? Honestly, probably not.
When a woman stays friends with her ex, she usually enjoys the guy’s company but doesn’t want to have sex with him anymore. He adds value to her life but there’s no sexual tension between them. Ultimately, that means there’s no masculine/feminine polarity to keep them attracted.
What do I mean by that? Women are usually attracted to men who give off an “alpha” energy and are leaders. It’s a type of social dominance that’s scientifically proven to become wired in the male brain. It makes women feel protected and safe. So when things fizzle, it’s safe to say that this male/female energetic balance was thrown off.
Still, women stay friends with their exes sometimes — not based on physical attraction, but just human connection. Think about it this way: Women stay friends with ex-boyfriends for the same reason they are friends with other girls. They like your vibe… but just don’t wanna bang.
Unless, of course, it’s a guy who just broke up with them. This is the only exception I’d make. If you think you may be the “rebound guy,” then you may want to confirm the timeline of their relationship if you can. You might even ask to talk to her ex and see how she reacts. If she’s defensive, you might want to think twice. Emotionally, he may not be an “ex” at all.
If She’s Friends with an Ex, It’s Actually a Good Thing
Usually, I’d say it’s a sign of emotional maturity if your girlfriend is still friends with an ex. It shows she cares about people and doesn’t cut them out. It also shows that she respects the people she chooses to date.
After all, what if you someday become her ex? That means she’ll still have love and respect for you, too. It demonstrates that she’s not crazy. You cut out crazy people — you don’t cut out kind, respectful people who add value to your life.
Also, if her exes want to maintain a friendship, then she must add value to their lives. There’s something about her as a person that other men are still drawn to, even if they are not romantically involved. If you’re looking for something long-term, then this is the type of woman you want to consider. Her personality alone is powerful enough to keep people in her orbit. That’s beyond beautiful.
Finally, what if she and her ex were once married and/or had kids? This is common in many of my 50 to 60 year old clients. If we’re talking about an ex-husband, baby daddy, or both, then you can expect her to be tied to her ex for life. She really doesn’t have a choice in the matter. And it’s a similar situation if they have a business together. So in cases like that, don’t get weird and jealous about it if you want things to move forward.
Obviously, that’s easier said than done, so if you do freak out at any point, just take that as an opportunity to work on yourself. Coaching and therapy can also help you work through issues like this.
Making Sure Everyone Feels Secure
If you want to stay friends with your ex-girlfriend, then you need to make sure that nobody feels threatened or insecure about it. Otherwise, it won’t work. Here are some questions to ask yourself. Answer them honestly to figure out whether maintaining a friendship with your ex is possible, given the personalities involved.
Does Your Girlfriend Seem Jealous of Your Ex?
By this I mean, does she seem jealous for no reason? Have you tried explaining your relationship with your ex, or even introduced the two of them, and still gotten a chilly response?
I consider it a red flag if anyone is getting jealous about exes without any justification. They were in the picture before you connected, so it’s really none of anyone’s business who you do and do not hang out with. If someone is trying to dictate who you can and cannot spend time with, run.
How Did You and Your Ex Break Up?
In other words, would you get back with her if you could? Do you still have feelings for her? If the answer is yes to either of those, then maybe give it some time before becoming friends again, if at all.
Why complicate things when you don’t have to? You’ll have a hard time keeping a friendship with your ex platonic if you have any lingering romantic feelings.
How Long Ago Was It?
Are you in the rebound time window? Maybe she’s using you for attention as a friend, even though she doesn’t want to date you anymore. Or maybe you’re using her, knowing that she still pines for you (this can be a very ego-satisfying thing).
Either way, you both may be continuing this friendship for unhealthy reasons. Neither you nor your ex may be in a secure place. Your current girlfriend will probably pick up on this too. Once that happens, things could get really dicey. So if it’s a rebound type of thing, I’d avoid it for now. Just be honest with yourself about this, because these things can tend to stay in the subconscious.
How Much Time Do You Spend with Your Ex?
The amount of time you spend with your ex is key. Do you text and call each other every day? Are you spending lots of time together alone without your current partners? Do phone calls from your ex always interrupt the time you spend with your girlfriend?
If you spend more time with your ex than you do with your other friends, maybe that’s a sign that things aren’t really what they seem. You could still be attached and not solid enough in your current relationship(s) yet to really be friends. It’ll definitely strike your partner as kind of weird too unless you and your ex share a child or perhaps a business together.
If you want to stay friends with an ex-girlfriend, I’d recommend just keeping in contact here and there, not constantly. Don’t spend too much time with your ex, or else it could make things look suspicious — or even reignite old feelings.
Friends with an Ex: Wrap-Up
Staying friends with an ex-girlfriend can be a tricky thing. Like many things in life, it really comes down to emotional maturity. Do you have honest intentions for why you want to remain friends? If so, I’d encourage you to maintain your relationship with your ex. The world is a harsh place and we shouldn’t throw away connections with people who care about us when we don’t have to. Assuming your current partner is also a mature adult, this should be okay. If it’s not, and you’ve given her no reason to suspect anything, then you may want to rethink your current relationship.
But don’t forget, it takes some skill to make all of this work. You need to be savvy enough to spot any hidden motives you may have around wanting to talk to your ex. You have to be strong enough to tolerate the same situation when it comes to your girlfriend’s exes. And, you have to be emotionally intelligent enough to see how everyone feels about it and help them see things in the correct light, too.
So, can you be friends with an ex-girlfriend? Absolutely. Will it be easy? Hell no. But I always tell people that the key to developing skills for relating to women about sensitive issues is coaching, coaching, coaching. (And maybe some therapy if you have deep-seated issues.)
I do private coaching sessions with men all the time, and these types of issues often come up when they meet someone special. Suddenly, they’re not sure if they should stay friends with an ex. Having someone to work through their feelings with is invaluable.
I’d love to offer you the same support. If you’re looking to improve your dating life, attract more compatible women, and eventually find someone to be with long-term, book an intro call with me today. Between my private sessions, group coaching, and matchmaking services, you can find the exact amount of help you need to take your interactions with women to the next level.