Love Nest: Can you really be friends with your ex?

Like the simps reading this article, I have attempted to get through the emotional limbo of being friends with your ex. Once you get past the badly disguised flirting, Buchanan-walls-thick sexual tension and inevitable guilty post-breakup sex, there’s really nothing cute about it. 

I thought the answer to this question was “immediately, no”, as someone who’s either blocked or been blocked by all her exes after this ‘friendship’ stage. But, I know that people are actually excited for this article — it’s informative – so I went out into the wild seeking answers.

Rest assured, that I wasn’t on the UBC Debate Team for nothing, so I’ll lay out the main arguments from side ‘Fuck no’ for you, with some excellent refutation from side 'Maybe?’ The rest is for you to judge, since there’s no objective reality and we’re all just desperate to be loved anyway. 

It’s in the air and it’s all around…

Like the airplane in Britney Spears’s “Toxic” music video, this whole situation screams baggage. I am not about to be swayed into thinking you can be friends with your ex when the whole package screams fragile.

I don’t just mean baggage as trauma. Even if it’s an amicable breakup, baggage can look like many things. It could be the time you spent loving each other, the memories you made and the fact that they were the first person you turned to during tough times.

I could get all the support, love and care I need from my friends, so why in hell would I go back to my ex?

The rebuttal

According to Rajat Chowdhury, a fourth-year music student, “If you’re able to be friends with someone you’ve shared all that time with, it makes the final step of getting over them more permanent.”

“It’s harder to be friends with your ex, for sure, but if you can still be friends despite everything, it helps smooth things out in the long run,” said Chowdhury.

Interesting, but in the words of my personal icon Britney Spears, “gimme more!”

Baby one more time?

Man, I don’t know about y’all but I’m not exactly known for my impulse control. If closure had a poster child, it most certainly would not be me. 

So, pursuing a friendship with your ex sounds like there is a possibility (no matter how futuristic, latent or remote) of seeing each other as romantic partners again. I mean the whole foundation of your friendship with them is romantic love.

The rebuttal

I’ll admit, this claim is one I’ll be more flexible with, because there’s a secret word: distance. 

Anoushka Mukherjee, a recent UBC graduate, had some valid things to say about this crucial ingredient to perfecting the ‘friends with your ex’ recipe. 

“You need to have space after you break up,” said Mukherjee. “Block each other on everything, delete the Spotify playlists, block the LinkedIn. You need [the time] to bitch about them to your friends, to post shady things on your finsta… once you come to terms with the fact that you hate them, you physically can’t see yourself with them that way.”

Taking the time to mourn the death of your relationship creates a barrier between being together and being friends. A neutral “we’re strangers” phase might be able to help the two of you become friends after a breakup. 

I’m not entirely sold yet, but I’ll buy it.

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy

Telling a new partner about an ex who you’re friends with can subsequently scare them off. I mean, it has the same energy as making out with a new boo at The Pit and accidentally making eye contact with your ex. 


I personally couldn’t avoid being intimidated if a partner tried to tell me they are still friends with an ex. The question of whether feelings still exist between the two of them or not would be enough to keep me up for literal weeks.

For hot anxious girls like me, cold turkey cutting out with no scope of return sounds like the best it’s gonna get.

The rebuttal 

Fourth-year psychology student, Simran Singh, had an interesting story to tell when I interviewed her. Somehow she’s not only stayed friends with her ex, but even found a supportive new partner who understands and respects the friendship she has with her ex.

True to the recipe, though, she also had to take some time away from her ex before being able to broach the subject of friendship with him.

“After some time of separation, a lot of clarity and maturity comes to you. In that year or so, I had to be selfish about working on myself and my mental health. We’re really good friends now, and I’m really glad to have him back in my life. There are certain things that only he witnessed and I feel comfortable sharing with him,” she said. She also shared how her current partner encourages her to seek the support she needs, even if that means talking to her ex.

The bottom line

We can sit and debate this shit for hours but the fact remains that each relationship is so unique that frankly, there just isn’t a right answer. But, regardless of what you do, you shouldn’t feel obligated to be friends with an ex, even if you both say “I hope we can still be friends,” when you break up. It’s ok to become friends with your ex in the future, or not want to see them ever again. 

So if you read all this hoping for a definitive response, I’m sorry to disappoint. But, I hope some of these ideas resonated with you. Let’s hope for love!

Love Nest is the Ubyssey blog's dating column. Have something specific you'd like to see covered? Email