Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Can you be friends with your ex?

Question: I dated my ex-boyfriend for six years and we broke up about a year ago. When we broke up we decided to just be friends and now we hang out with all the same people. Recently, though, I noticed my ex has been hanging out with this one girl whenever we go out. When we go to the bars, they are always dancing and hanging out together. I understand we are broken up but it is just weird for me. The other night, I drank way too much and completely bitched him out for hanging out with this girl because he was all over her in front of me. Now he is mad at me. I don't have feelings for him anymore (in that way), but I wish he wouldn't be all over her in front of me. I would like to continue to be friends with him but it is hard, can you help? (San Francisco, CA)

Social Shrink: Being friends with an ex is always hard. But get with it – do you want him as a boyfriend, as a friend, or what? You seem to be okay with your relationship ending, but you’re not okay with him flirting with other girls, yet you’re okay hanging out with him socially as just a friend...? Okay, we’re going to try and keep up with you…

Listen: of course you will have lingering feelings for your ex, especially if you’ve dated him for so long.  It’s natural and understandable.  What isn’t understandable or rational is for you to get mad at him for moving on and flirting with other girls.  Do you think it’s reasonable for you to tell him to not flirt with other girls in your presence?  It’s your choice to hang out with him as a friend and your choice to be exposed to that.  It is asking for a lot, especially if you consider him as just a friend and that’s what friends do around their friends – they have fun, go out, and flirt… especially if they are SINGLE!

Remember, he is an ex for a reason and he deserves his own relationships – just as much as you do as well.  If you were to be having fun and flirting with a guy, would you get upset if your ex requested you didn’t do that to him?  Turn the tables and think of what your answer would be.  If you aren’t willing to compromise with that request, you may need to reevaluate how you can hang out with your ex in social situations.  Maybe it’s best you two only hang out in neutral places where flirting can’t take place: at dinner (when you both can have one-on-one convos), the movies (since interactions with others is limited), or someplace boring like the library (since you can’t talk in there and, let’s get real, no one else will be there for you to get jealous of)?

As time passes you will be able to accept the fact that your ex is moving on and finding other girls.  You will do the same.  The only thing we recommend is to no longer try to control your ex and his actions – you gave up that right when you both broke up!  Hope this helps!


  1. hahahha in the library.

  2. I'm friends with my ex. It was hard at first to be around him, but since we share most of the same friends circle, what else could I do? My friends were nice enough (and him too) to not show up at the first few gatherings after we broke up.
    It was hard to see him with a girl but eventually it got a lot easier.

  3. I think you can be freinds with en, but you need to give it time after the breakup. Realistically six months to a year. For some people thats very scary, but is needed for you to heal after a breakup.
    If you can deal with the fact that your ex is now happy with someone else, having sex with someone else with making you feel jealous or wanna destroy the world then you can be their freind. Just remember though that their future lover may not be too comfortable with it, and neither would your future lover as well.

  4. I understand this. It's bruised ego syndrome. It obviously wasn't working to be with him, but if you ever had real feelings at all I think it's normal to still feel some residual jealousy and hurt. And seeing him all over some girl right in front of you will easily feel like your nose is being rubbed in it, even if he isn't meaning to. Right now I am not allowed to disagree with my ex in front of his new person apparently, because it makes thing uncomfortable for her...he didn't care about how felt in the same situation when we were together and honestly never defended me. So yeah, it can feel insulting when you see this, it feels like somehow they are better than you in his eyes. For someone who put tons of effort and then some into the relationship, yeah it smarts.

    I commented to offer support and to let you know it doesn't just happen to you. I'm still waiting out the time until I get number to it all.

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