“Catching the hint” is easier said than done. Motives are sometimes sketchy, and trust — well, they are an ex for a reason. I’ve had a situation or two where I had to ask myself, does my ex want me back, or just wants to be friends?
I will say that it all depends on the relationship between you and your ex. Factor in all of that, and we have a complicated situation. I will explore what it means to have boundaries and when you should throw up a stop sign.
Why would my ex want to be friends anyway?
Sometimes it is about keeping the peace; sometimes, it is about finding a familiar place to land. The first thing to do is try to put all of the signs into context.
Was the breakup messy or hostile?
Your ex likely wants to make peace, and sometimes it is for themselves to feel better about the situation. Clearing a conscience is one heck of a motivator, and it can lead to more confusion and anger.
You know why the breakup happened, and you can decide when it feels healthy to make amends.
Did you share a friend circle?
Everyone wants to claim friends after the end of a relationship. Sometimes exes apologize and try to clear the air so that there is no drama if you two pass one another in public.
But, bumping into one another doesn’t mean you can’t be civil – trying to manipulate you into feeling okay or buddy-buddy so it doesn’t disrupt the next dinner party might not be what is healthiest for you.
Were you friends first?
When a breakup happens, it doesn’t mean anyone just stops feeling. Many relationships start as solid friendships, and your ex might want that connection back.
And when it is amicable, a relationship can return to friendship without having to jump into bed or have long-term expectations.
Why you might not want to be friends with your ex
The first thing to ask yourself is:
Do you see him as a friend, or is there a part of you that wants more?
You have the right to choose what happens with your relationship one way or another. Don’t feel pressured to be friendly when it does not feel healthy to go for it. If you aren’t feeling it, let them know.
Have you moved on and don’t want the roadblock of a friendship with your ex?
If you cringe every time a text from them pops up, it is time to explain that you’ve moved on with your life. Put your feelings first. It is not about him and his comfort.
Does your ex regret the breakup, but you don’t?
We all say things we don’t mean in the heat of an argument. However, sometimes you can’t take things back. Words do damage, and no amount of groveling and begging can make them simply evaporate.
Even if you’re ready to forgive, you likely can’t forget enough to establish a healthy friendship. Especially when they think it will turn back into more.
Was he not ready to commit, but you were?
The next step in a romantic relationship is not easy, and sometimes both parties are not ready to move forward. When you are, and they aren’t, it might be time to move on.
However, later down the road, they might decide they regret the breakup, and maybe they’ve matured. Don’t jump right back in, even if you want them back, too.
You don’t want to jump back into a situation that will play out the same way.
Until something better comes along
We as humans don’t always enjoy being alone, and some can’t bear it at all. The stand-in street can work both ways, and it will only lead to hurt feelings and misunderstanding.
After a breakup, it is hard to try and spend quality time alone. The temptation to stay in touch with an ex is about personal comfort and not always what is best for you and them.
You are not there to be emotional support for an ex or their stopgap until they find something better. Friendships should be a give or take relationship, not a one-sided support system.
Feeling like the second-best can do a lot of long-term damage to your self-esteem and hurt any future romantic relationship.
Sex with no strings
First, there’s nothing wrong with a no-strings-attached agreement and can benefit every party involved. But, it requires both parties to communicate that and come to a mutual understanding.
However, with that said, if you or your ex think that bedroom escapades will someday turn back into a solid and mature relationship — that is likely not going to be the case. No strings typically mean no future.
If you don’t want to be a convenient source of sex, don’t be.
A roll in the hay is not worth the regret or the feeling of being less than tomorrow. Think to yourself – if your ex were to move tomorrow, how would you feel?
Sex with no strings attached means there are fewer emotions involved unless they aren’t. Skirting the rules of commitment is only okay if everyone is in total agreement.
Best of both worlds
Adult relationships are complex, and sometimes not everyone is ready for it. It is human nature to seek emotional support in the places we find comfort.
However, keeping an eye on an ex is unhealthy and can lead to real-world problems.
A friendship with an ex can be great, but it is toxic for both parties if they’re doing it to keep tabs and even stalk. Asking someone where they are, or even what they are doing, keeps a door open that you likely want to keep closed.
Explain that conversations do not mean commitment, and draw a clear line in the sand.
Sometimes it isn’t just about sex
Relationships are about emotional connections as much as they are about physical ones.
You develop habits with one another, and the two lives become intertwined to the point that it is sometimes hard to unwind.
We form bonds with people, and romantic relationships are one of the strongest. You or your ex might find that it is the hardest part to let go and try to retain a no-sex-allowed friendship.
But, if it causes pain for them or you, moving on is the best action plan.
You deserve more than the minimum
Sometimes an ex will decide they want to remain friends to keep the peace or comfort when running in the same social circles.
However, they end up doing the bare minimum, like commenting on a social media post or a middle-of-the-night text.
An ex might urge you to start dating again or ask for advice about their current conquest. They may want to retain some connection without any type of commitment on their part. It is this type of situation where boundaries are a must-have.
Unintentionally hurting someone is not what a friendship is about, regardless of your connection while in a romantic relationship.
But, should I stay friends with my ex?
You’ve gone through the possible motives and examined the entirety of your relationship. And, you’re left asking yourself, but do I really want to be friends with them?
The answer is — it is entirely up to you and how you feel. Do not feel pressured simply because they want to retain some sort of friendship with you.
We don’t keep in touch with every person we meet and get along with. The same rules should apply to an ex, and sometimes they should apply even more than to an acquaintance or non-romantic friendship.
You have research on your side, too. Strong evidence points towards the fact we can only maintain so many relationships through the course of our life.
Open up that possibility and move on if you have found yourself at the dead end, whether your ex wants you back or just wants to be friends.
Is it healthy to just be friends with an ex?
Well, yes, you have the power to choose your own friends. And don’t let other people in your life make that decision for you — because they will try.
Exes from years past aren’t likely holding a torch for you or you for them. There is nothing wrong with being Facebook friends or liking an Instagram photo of their kids.
You likely aren’t going to drop everything to meet up with them or try to stoke an old flame.
Regardless, choosing to stay friends with an ex requires a little care and a lot of thought.
Again, an ex is an ex for a reason.
Ask yourself, what is the upside to staying friends with my former romantic partner?
If you can’t name more than two, don’t bother. The friendship will fail and only hurt you or them again.
How do I know when my ex just wants to be friends?
I’ve discovered that there is no cut-and-dry answer to that question.
However, there are a few signs and even red flags that can help guide you through a breakup and what comes after.
Remember, every human is unique, which means so are our relationships with others.
One of the first significant signals is when an ex comes to you for romantic advice or to talk about their upcoming dates with others.
At the same time, if they don’t get jealous over you dating, they are ready to be just friends and not looking for you two to get back together.
How do I know when an ex wants to be more than friends?
It is sometimes easier to tell when an ex wants to be more than friends than not.
One factor to consider, too, is if they’re going to be more than friends, will the relationship disrupt your life or keep you moving on? One toxic person in your life is one too many.
Red flags that your ex might still have feelings for you include:
- They seem to react instantly or follow you too closely on social media. You have to consider their comments and how actively they engage you. You know your ex and can tell when they are going overboard.
- They just show up where you are way too often. You already know – that is creepy behavior. That’s not to say that going to the same parties is not normal. You did likely share friends. But, it can get out of hand, and you know your boundaries.
- Texting to check in, especially those first few months, is sometimes a natural reaction. However, if they are texting you night and day, they likely want you back for more than a friendship.
- Sending personal gifts is more than a red flag; it is them internally screaming that they want you back. When they make you uncomfortable, send them back with a polite thank you and to please stop.
Ultimately, your personal relationships are in your control.
If they feel out of control, they are not healthy for you and your life moving forward.
You know your feelings for them. You might have to sit them down and explain that you can’t have a friendship at all with them.
You are doing it for you, not them. Don’t let someone guilt you into any situation you aren’t comfortable with.
One last thing before I leave you to your thoughts, but I hope you never have to wonder does my ex wants me back or just wants to be friends again. I speak from personal experience here.
Don’t let any situation in your life become dangerous. Physically, emotionally, psychologically – you deserve to be healthy and happy.
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