You’re in the midst of a breakup and you’re going through a whirlwind of emotions. How will you be able to survive daily life without your ex? You’ve become so accustomed to having them by your side.
And then, out of the blue, your ex says, “But I still want to be friends.”
Great, you think to yourself, at least I’ll still be able to have my ex around when I’m missing them like crazy. That should help me get through this, you think, nodding in agreement at your ex’s suggestion that you keep the friendship alive.
But is it really such a good idea? Is the “friend zone” a place you want to be?
Probably not, to be perfectly honest. Being friends with your ex is actually almost always a bad idea and a recipe for additional (and unnecessary) heartache. In this article, I’ll explain what your ex actually wants when they suggest you should remain friends… and why it’s unwise in almost every scenario.
Why Being Friends Is So Tempting
Here’s the reason so many people get stuck in the “friend zone” after a breakup – and end up suffering the negative consequences: at first, it seems like a great idea.
friend zone memeI mean, your ex is giving you an option that allows you to maintain contact with the person you’ve loved for some time and, in theory, this will allow you to move on gently and slowly without the intense feelings of loneliness that often accompany a breakup.
After all, if you can slowly wean yourself off those romantic feelings rather than going “cold turkey” and shutting down all contact with your ex, isn’t that a better option?
The problem is that even though it often seems like a perfect compromise, being friends usually provides very little comfort and actually makes the process of moving on longer and more difficult – and complicated – than it needs to be.
So even though it may sound like a brilliant idea at first, entering into the “friend zone” with your ex is actually just going to make things more painful and more drawn out.
Scenario #1: You’re Done with Your Ex & Want to Move On…
If you’re the one who initiated the breakup, or if you’ve come to realize that a permanent separation from your ex is wise, then being “friends” is unwise for one simple reason: it will cause at least one of you unnecessary emotional turmoil and heartache that can be avoided.
Think about it this way: your relationship is over, and among other things you hope to move on and begin a new love life with someone else. Whether or not that happens immediately doesn’t really change things, because the best way to move on from someone is to completely remove them from your life.
Which of the following options is going to be less painful and less difficult to handle:
You let your ex go his or her own way and do your best to avoid learning what they are up to, who they’re dating, etc.
You actively communicate with your ex and constantly remind yourself of what used to be between you. You learn about their new romantic partners, hear about their sexual escapades, etc.
Obviously the former option will make the entire breakup process less painful on an emotional level, and will help you move on more quickly. By keeping your ex in your life as a friend, you’re basically allowing yourself to constantly be tempted by reminding yourself of the past… and you’re also opening yourself up to potentially painful knowledge about your ex’s new love life.
In other words, if you want to survive the breakup and move on as quickly as possible, entering the “friend zone” with your ex is pretty much always counterproductive.
Scenario #2: You Want to Get Back Together with Your Ex
If the breakup with your ex happened against your will and you’re trying to get back together with them, then “friendship” is even worse.
To begin with, you’ll face all the problems I mentioned above: the experience will be more painful and it will take longer for you to get over your ex.
Even though a significant portion of relationships can be salvaged, some breakups will be permanent no matter how hard you try to reverse them. So if you happen to fall into this category, then all you’re achieving by agreeing to be friends with your ex after the breakup is increasing your emotional suffering and making the process of moving on more difficult than it needs to be.
There are a few other huge problems with agreeing to be friends with your ex if you want to win them back:
- It won’t give them a chance to develop feelings of nostalgia and to miss you as much as if you aren’t around. As I explained in my article on how to get your ex back, one of the key ingredients to repairing a relationship is allowing enough time to pass that your ex begins to miss you like crazy. How do you make someone miss you? Simple: disappear from their life suddenly and completely, shutting down all lines of communication. By maintaining a friendship with your ex, it’s impossible to really effectively disappear from their radar and therefore for them miss you.
- It gives complete control of the situation to your ex. Another key to winning back your ex is to make it clear that you are still equals, even if they decided to break up with you. You need to make it known that you’re not a pushover and that if your ex isn’t interested in a romantic relationship, then they’re cut from your life altogether.
- You serve as a “safety net” for your ex while they look for someone new. Do you want to be your ex’s confidante while they tell you about their new lover(s)? Do you want to be the backup quarterback in case things don’t work out with the new romance they’re pursing? Of course not. You have to make it absolutely clear to your ex that if they choose to break up with you, they’re on their own and they can’t come running back to you if they find the single life less fun than they’d imagined it would be. By stating in no uncertain terms that you’re not going to be sticking around when your ex decides to bail on your relationship, you’re telling them that you’re not wiling to be their “plan b”; you have dignity and pride and are worth being someone’s “number 1”.
Add those things together and the supposed “advantages” to being friends with your ex after a breakup seem much less appealing. In reality, there really isn’t any scenario in which being friends after a breakup (at least for the first few months) is a good idea.
How to Say No to the Friend Zone
If I’ve managed to convince you that being friends with your ex is an awful idea, then you may be wondering how to go about saying no to your ex. That can be especially tricky if you’re looking for a way to win them back and start fresh with your them in the future.
I recommend saying something like, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for either of us to be friends right now. I was interested in being your [boyfriend/girlfriend] but I don’t really think being friends is going to be good for either of us. No hard feelings, though, and I wish you all the best.”
Saying that makes a clear stand on the issue without slinging any mud or closing the door to a possible future reconciliation. You want to make sure there’s no ambiguity or confusion over the issue, but you also want to be polite and diplomatic so as not to start any unnecessary conflicts.
If you’ve already agreed to being friends with your ex and you need help escaping the “friend zone,” I recommend you head over to my website and watch the free video that I’ve posted there. It will give you some more advice on how to proceed with your ex and how to escape the friend zone without shutting them out of your life permanently.
It’s often difficult to handle your ex when they want to be friends and you want to be lovers, and you need to tread carefully. That’s why I dedicated an entire section of my Ex Factor program to this topic, and I often help folks get through their unique situations.
Best of luck avoiding the dreaded “friend zone” – I welcome any questions or comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this page.