Is it okay to be friends with an ex who didn't treat you well?

We’re breaking down the age-old question for you!

16 March, 2024
Is it okay to be friends with an ex who didn't treat you well?

Breakups can be messy, especially if your ex wasn't a good partner. Speaking of which, my ex recently reached out to me to supposedly "check-in". A sweet gesture, sure, but also confusing. Not because of the norm that two people can't be friends after a breakup but also because of how and why we broke up. And it got me wondering—can you actually be friends with an ex who didn’t treat you well?

The answer, like most things in love (and life), is far more complicated than a simple yes or no. While it's possible to wish someone well, even after a rough relationship, the question of whether or not you can be friends with them, requires careful consideration. And before you dive into a full-blown friendship with them, here are some important questions you should ask yourself. 

Have they shown remorse? 

Did they apologise or at the very least, acknowledge their wrongdoings? You can choose to forgive an ex who's wronged you if they've shown genuine remorse for it. Their actions are indicative of this. Look for concrete changes in their behaviour—are they really sorry? Have they tried to be a better person? If yes, then you can choose to forgive them and be friends. If not, then it's completely okay to avoid a platonic relationship. 

Are you completely over your ex?

Holding onto lingering romantic feelings can cloud your judgement and make it difficult to establish healthy boundaries in a friendship. Will you be happy for them if they start seeing someone romantically? If you're not sure, it's probably best to take more time and heal.

Do you find yourself frequently checking their social media profile?

Breakups were difficult to begin with; and social media only worsened them, especially for those struggling to get over someone. We've all been there—the late-night "what are they up to now" scroll session. It's okay to slip once or twice, but if you're constantly checking their social media or posting things to get their attention, you might want to reconsider a friendship with them. 

Have you had enough time to heal emotionally?

You will need time to heal after a breakup with someone who didn't treat you well. Ask yourself if you've had enough time to heal emotionally before you decide to be friends with them. If you've been able to process the end of the relationship and can approach your ex with a sense of peace, then it might be okay to maintain a friendship with them. But remember, open communication and clear boundaries are essential for a healthy post-breakup friendship.

Can you trust your ex?

If you had an emotionally draining relationship followed by a bad breakup, rebuilding your trust is of utmost importance. This is where boundaries become more important. Do you think you can communicate your boundaries clearly? And are you confident that your ex will respect those boundaries? 

*There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but ultimately, the most important factor is your well-being. Don't be pressured into a friendship that feels uncomfortable or unsafe. You deserve to surround yourself with people who respect your boundaries and uplift you. If a friendship with your ex doesn't feel right, walk away with confidence. But if you think there's a chance for a genuine friendship, proceed with caution and prioritise clear communication. Remember, you can't control their behaviour, but you can control who you choose to have in your life.

Also Read: How to give yourself closure and heal after a breakup

Also Read: Don’t like your friend’s partner? Here's how to deal with it