There are really only so many ways to break up with someone tactfully. As such, many people who are attempting to let their partner down gently end up reusing the same lines over and over again. In order to keep their partner from feeling guilty, the heartbreaker says, “It’s not you. It’s me.”  To show that they really did care about the relationship, the person doing the breaking up says, “I really do wish it had worked out.” In an attempt to soften the sense of loss, the person leaving says, “We can still be friends.” 

All of the classic break up lines have become clichés for a reason. They have been said so many times that they have lost all meaning. The end of a relationship is very rarely, if ever, entirely one person’s fault. Someone who did not want the relationship to work out would never have been in the relationship in the first place. As for staying friends with your ex, is it wise to do so? Is it even possible in the first place?

When it comes to being friends with your ex, you are not the only person in the equation that you need to consider. You might be perfectly comfortable staying on friendly terms with your ex, but they may not be able to do so. Staying friends with your ex might impede your ex’s healing. Spending extensive amounts of time with you or continuing to share intimate details about each other’s lives may convince your ex that there is hope that the two of you will get back together. This false hope can keep your ex from moving on. You might not mean to hurt your ex, but continuing to act like everything is fine might do just that. If you would actually like your ex to be your friend one day, give them the space they need to heal emotionally. Friends do not hurt friends.

Your ex is not the only one who can be hurt emotionally by going immediately from a romantic relationship to a friendship. Your own emotional healing can be negatively affected by staying close with your ex. Even if you were the one who broke off the relationship, you still have healing to do. You may be hurt less, but you still had to give up your hopes and dreams of the relationship lasting forever. You need to readjust to single life just like your ex. That can be difficult to do if you ex is still a large part of your life or a serious source of emotional intimacy. 

In the event that you were not the one who ended the relationship, you need to think even more carefully about why you want to remain friends with your ex. It could be that you truly do simply want to have someone to discuss “Star Wars” predictions with, but it is more likely that you are clinging to any remnant of the relationship. Doing this is a surefire way to keep yourself from ever truly healing. All you will do is delude yourself into thinking, even subconsciously, that there is hope for you and your ex to get back together or leave yourself trapped in a pseudo-relationship. Either one sets you up for heartbreak when your ex begins dating someone new or you look up and realize how much of your life you have wasted hanging on to a person who had already moved on.

Why the relationship ended is just as important to consider as who ended it when it comes to considering remaining friends with your ex. Did your relationship with your ex end because the two of you simply wanted different things, or did it end due to a gross betrayal of trust such as cheating? A relationship that ended due to the former might be one where the former partners could remain friends. In the event of the latter, it is best to cut ties completely. You should be able to trust your friends. Your partner already betrayed you once by cheating. There is no reason they would not betray your trust as a friend. 

Perhaps the most important factor in determining if you and your ex can remain friends is how the relationship ended. If it ended in tears and screaming, a friendship is probably not in the cards right off the bat. If it ended with a calm discussion and civility, if not amiability, it may be possible to settle into a friendship with your ex, that is, of course, assuming that you like them enough to remain friends with them. If you found out through your relationship that you really do not have much in common with your ex, then there is probably not much point in trying to pursue a friendship with your ex.

In the event that you and your ex have a large number of mutual friends, you will likely have no choice but to remain on decent terms with your ex. That does not mean, however, that the two of you have to remain close friends. You owe it to your mutual friends to retain the ability to be civil to your ex, but no one has the right to force you to remain close with your ex.

Once the romantic relationship is over, it is up to you and your ex what comes next. Should you decide to try and remain friends, be sure to consider why you are actually keeping your ex in your life. The decision should not be based on loneliness or remorse. If you regret breaking up with your ex so much that you are determined to keep them in your life in any way possible, you probably should not have broken up with them in the first place.