Breakups are never easy, but what happens when your ex-boyfriend suggests remaining friends?
Is it a genuine offer, or is there an ulterior motive?
In this article, we’ll uncover the truth behind the question, Do guys really want to be friends after a breakup?
We will explore the reality behind his friendship motives, whether it’s good for you to remain friends with him, and provide tips for maintaining a healthy post-breakup friendship.
Table of Contents
- Staying friends after a breakup can be complicated – learn why some guys choose to do it and the risks involved for you.
- How to set proper boundaries with your ex boyfriend, allow time for emotional healing, and consider your motives before deciding if staying friends is right for you.
- Consider whether having an FWB relationship with your ex is a good idea or not.
- Answering some common questions about remaining friends with your ex after a breakup
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Why Would A Guy Want to Be Friends After a Breakup?
Breakups can be difficult for both people involved, yet some guys choose to remain friends with their ex.
Why would a guy want this? If you’re now officially exes, why keep friendship in the cards?
There are many reasons for this decision – especially when we’re talking about men.
Your ex boyfriend or husband could be feeling guilty, he could be afraid of loneliness, want to keep the option of sex open, or more positively, he could feel genuine care for you.
It’s important to understand these motivations to make an informed decision about whether to stay friends or cut ties with your ex completely.
Let’s delve deeper into each of these reasons right now.
Sometimes, guys may offer friendship after a breakup to ease their guilt for ending the relationship.
In this case, they might feel responsible for any pain their ex is experiencing and want to make sure she is taken care of.
However, this guilt-driven friendship can be misguided and may not always be the best foundation for a genuine, long-lasting friendship.
Because by remaining in the picture, this could make it harder for you to let go and grieve the breakup.
Fear of Loneliness
Ending a romantic relationship can leave both parties feeling lonely (even if they have friends and family), and sometimes guys may want to stay friends with you in order to combat this fear of loneliness.
This motivation might not be the healthiest reason for maintaining a friendship, as it basically uses you to fill a void.
It can also prevent both of you from moving on and finding happiness with someone more suitable for you.
It is important to remember that staying friends with an ex is not always the best option.
Don’t get me wrong, it does work for some people.
Yet it’s important to acknowledge that unless both of you feel nothing for the other romantically, it will create conflicts and barriers in your future dating life.
It can also be emotionally draining for both parties.
He Genuinely Cares For You and Wants to Support You
In some cases, a guy might genuinely care for his ex and want to offer her support and encouragement after the breakup.
That’s entirely possible.
It could be a sign of emotional maturity on his part and it could potentially lead to a true friendship, where both of you can support each other without the complications of romantic feelings.
Again, provided you both feel nothing romantic towards the other – at all.
And I really mean nothing – there has to be no trace of romance or sexual attraction whatsoever.
Such a friendship could be beneficial for both of you, as it could provide emotional support and connection without the pressure of a romantic relationship.
Keeping The Option of Sex Open
Of course, not everything is roses and rainbows about an ex’s intentions.
It’s important to be cautious when considering friendship with your ex, as some guys might have less-than-genuine intentions.
Keeping the option of sex open can be a reason for a guy to want to maintain a friendship after a breakup.
In this situation, the guy may be hoping for a friends-with-benefits arrangement, which can lead to resentment, confusion and hurt feelings in the long run.
The Reality Behind Friendship Motives
Let’s talk a little more about possible motives behind the desire for friendship after a breakup. Specifically, the darker, more toxic motives.
While some guys may have genuine reasons for wanting to remain friends after a breakup, others may have a more manipulative and controlling streak.
They may use the guise of friendship to keep you as a backup option, or to maintain power and control over your life.
Sounds sad, but some men are like that.
In the next few subsections, we will explore these toxic, manipulative motives and discuss how to recognize and avoid them.
Manipulation and Control
Manipulators may try to gain control over an ex by offering friendship after a breakup. They will do this to:
- Prove they still have power over their ex emotionally
- Exploit an ex’s insecurities
- And avoid taking responsibility for their actions
The key to avoid this is to stay alert for controlling tactics.
If you can’t cut ties just yet, you can at least set boundaries and prioritize your own well-being.
Ideally, you’ll choose your own mental health and emotional stability over maintaining a friendship with your ex.
If you’re not 100% sure if your ex is manipulative and toxic or not, there are two words I recommend you say to him.
If he reacts badly to these words, he is very likely highly toxic:
Keeping Exes as Backup Options
Some guys may stay friends with their ex-partners after a breakup to keep them as a backup option in case things don’t work out with someone else.
This can be emotionally damaging to you as a woman if it happens, as you’ll likely feel used and undervalued.
What are the signs he’s keeping you as a backup option?
- He only contacts you when he wants something
- He puts in bare minimum effort, but enough to stop you getting too upset
Recognizing these signs of a guy keeping you as a backup option and setting clear boundaries around what you will tolerate can help protect your emotional well-being.
If you don’t recognise the signs of being a backup option and fail to erect boundaries around this, you will run the risk of showing up low value.
And when you show up low value, your ex – and men in general – will treat you as such. So make sure you avoid that and show up low value by erecting your boundaries, always.
(Don’t ever be too weak to protect your own heart!)
Want to know the 7 common signs a woman is low value in the eyes of all men?
(Why is this important? Because men and women perceive value very differently and you don’t want to be making mistakes that would cause quality men to dismiss, abandon or alienate you.)
Is Friendship After A Breakup Ever Beneficial For You As A Woman?
We’ve talked a lot about the bad side of remaining friends with an ex boyfriend, but surely there are a bunch of benefits, too?
And the answer is that there definitely are.
The benefits to staying friends with an ex, include:
- Preserving a sense of comfort
- Receiving help with the things you can’t do yourself but a man can do for you
- Having someone in your life who cares about you (provided their intentions are genuine)
- And appreciating the good parts of the relationship.
However, it’s crucial to weigh these benefits against potential emotional manipulation and the risk of not being able to move on.
Ultimately, the decision to remain friends with an ex should be carefully considered and based on your own needs and feelings.
(Ie: not because you feel guilty for not staying friends with him!)
How to Transition from a Romantic Relationship to Friendship
Transitioning from a romantic relationship to a friendship can be awkward and hard, but it is possible with the right approach.
Establishing pre-agreed upon boundaries and allowing yourself time to heal emotionally are key steps in this process.
Basically, you need to make sure you and your ex allow ample time and space for each other to emotionally adjust to the change in the nature of your relationship.
You can’t jump the gun on this one. This needs to be communicated and understood by both of you.
Jumping straight into a friendship immediately after a breakup without time for adjustment in your own time is a recipe for disaster.
Let’s discuss how to navigate the emotional healing process during the transition from romance to friendship.
How do you establish boundaries to make emotional healing possible at the same time as preserving a friendship?
Start by discussing what kind of communication is acceptable, how often you should be in touch, and what topics to avoid.
You can also express that you need a certain amount of time or space, and then you can be in contact and re-assess.
Don’t make any promises during this process. Your job is to focus on maintaining relveant and up-to-date boundaries based on both your healing process and progress.
By establishing and respecting these boundaries, both of you can maintain a healthy friendship without causing further emotional pain.
How to ensure that you give yourself enough emotional healing and processing during this period?
Here are some suggestions:
- Take a break from social media
- Spend time alone; or
- Engage in activities that help you relax and de-stress
During this healing process, it’s crucial to acknowledge and accept your emotions, rather than trying to ignore them or push them down to make others more comfortable.
When to Consider Friendship with an Ex
In what context is it ok to consider maintaining a friendship with your ex? Considering friendship with an ex may be appropriate if:
- The relationship ended on a good note
- There’s no long history of toxicity
- There’s no lingering drama; and
- Both parties are honest about their expectations for the friendship (basically, you both have to be emotionally mature people who are respectful and understanding)
As a general rule, it’s usually best to wait at least six to twelve months after the breakup before considering friendship.
This is to give both people time to heal and gain perspective on the relationship.
It’s important to be honest with yourself and your ex about why you want to be friends.
Are you hoping to rekindle the romance, or do you genuinely want to just be friends?
If you’re not sure, it’s best to wait until you have a truthful answer.
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When to Avoid Friendship with an Ex
It’s best to avoid friendship with an ex if it causes pain or jealousy, or if there are still lingering romantic feelings.
In these situations, maintaining a friendship may only prolong the healing process and prevent both parties from moving on to healthier relationships.
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Post-Breakup Friendship
Maintaining a healthy post-breakup friendship is possible with open communication, respecting each other’s boundaries, and giving each other enough space.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss each of these tips in more detail and touch on whether or not it’s a good idea to have a friends-with-benefits relationship with your ex.
Open, Vulnerable Communication
Open and vulnerable communication is key for maintaining a healthy post-breakup friendship.
But let’s be honest, a lot of people aren’t going to be very open – especially not after they realize you’re now an ex.
So what you need to look for is whether he is at least attempting to be vulnerable and honest with you.
Ask your gut and your heart. Is he a trustworthy guy in general? Does he feel sincere?
Does he try to be as honest as possible?
If so, maybe he’s not a bad guy to maintain a post-breakup friendship with.
How else to ensure you’re both having open and honest communication?
Ensure you’re having honest conversations about your needs and feelings, and being willing to listen to your ex’s perspective.
By establishing a foundation of open communication, both of you can navigate the challenges of transitioning from a romantic relationship to a friendship while respecting each other’s unique situation.
Respecting Each Other’s Boundaries
Whilst boundaries is an overused term, most people don’t understand how to employ them or properly respect them in others, since most of the time, people aren’t going to verbally state their boundaries.
It’s important to respect each other’s boundaries in a post-breakup friendship, but exactly how do you do that?
First, we’ll address you respecting his boundaries, and then address your respecting his…
Notice when he pulls back when communicating or interacting.
Notice when he’s not comfortable with something, and don’t push it.
This is a type of sensitivity you develop by caring about his boundaries, because he won’t always be able to verbally state all of his boundaries.
Most people prefer that you pick up on them (ie: read their minds).
So be grateful when he states his boundaries, but don’t expect them all to be stated verbally.
How do you show that you’re respectful of his boundaries?
Respecting his boundaries may involve maintaining a certain level of physical and emotional distance, or avoiding topics that could cause hurt or jealousy.
How do you ensure he respects yours?
Be clear on what you need and what you cannot tolerate.
Either tell him how certain things make you feel, or if you’re not comfortable with revealing yourself that much, tell him you don’t want that.
By showing respect for each other’s boundaries, both parties can maintain a healthy friendship without causing further emotional pain.
Giving Each Other Space
Giving each other space is crucial for maintaining a healthy post-breakup friendship.
This may involve taking a break from contact for a period of time, allowing both parties to heal and gain perspective on the relationship.
By giving each other space, both parties can approach the friendship with a fresh mindset and avoid falling back into unhealthy patterns.
Should You Ever Have A Friends With Benefits Relationship With Your Ex?
While a friends-with-benefits relationship with your ex may be tempting, it’s generally not a good idea.
This type of relationship can lead to confusion and hurt feelings, especially if one party wants something more than the other.
Instead, focus on maintaining a healthy friendship with clear boundaries and open communication to avoid further emotional complications.
I hope you’ve gained a lot of insight from this article and feel more confident navigating these choppy waters of post-breakup friendship.
Don’t expect it to be smooth sailing the whole way through as it will be challenging.
But with open and vulnerable communication, clear boundaries, and emotional healing, it is possible to maintain a healthy post-breakup friendship.
By understanding the various motivations behind staying friends after a breakup and recognizing when to avoid friendship with an ex, you can make informed decisions that prioritize your emotional well-being and future happiness.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, we’ll address some common questions about friendship after a breakup, such as why a guy would still want to be friends after rejecting you.
Understanding these scenarios can provide valuable insight into the complexities of post-breakup friendships and help you make informed decisions about whether to maintain a friendship with your ex.
Why does he still want to be friends after rejecting me?
There could be several reasons why a guy would still want to be friends after rejecting you.
He might feel guilty, afraid of being alone, or genuinely care about you and want to offer support.
Alternatively, he could be keeping the option of sex open.
It’s important to consider the possible motivations he might have and assess whether maintaining a friendship with him is in your best interests.
Can men be friends after a breakup?
It is possible for men to be friends with you after a breakup, especially if they have built a strong foundation of friendship prior to the romantic relationship.
Celia Schweyer, dating expert at Dating Scout, shares her insight with Elite Daily that having a supportive and understanding attitude can help make the transition from lovers to friends easier.
Do guys really not care after a breakup?
Yes, it’s possible that guys do care after a breakup. They’re human, just like you.
Despite the stereotype of men being emotionally detached, they often experience deeper hurt and sadness than women due to not being as comfortable expressing their emotions openly.
It may just be harder for them to get over the relationship and move on.
Is it worth being friends after a breakup?
It can be worth being friends after a breakup, depending on the circumstances of the relationship and the breakup.
If you and your ex can communicate honestly and openly about any pain or anger you both feel as well as not intrude upon the other’s healing period, it may be possible to maintain a healthy friendship.
Ultimately, whether it is worth it is something you have to decide.
Keep in mind that we all make mistakes, though. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you end up making the wrong decision initially.
Penny is a writer and part time dating coach. She lives in Brisbane, Queensland with the love of her life, their two daughters and their three dogs. Penny is passionate about helping women realize their high value and harness the innate feminine energy that they were born with.