Published On: Tue, Jul 21st, 2015

Ep. 23: You’ve Broken Up and He Wants To Remain Friends

Ex-boyfriend Photo


Sex, Lust & Love…What Matters?

It’s not uncommon for some men to stay friends with their ex-girlfriends and often, their new or current girlfriend wonders why he would stay friends with his ex.

I think many women believe it’s for the purpose of either sex or just in case things don’t work out with the current woman, then he has someone to fall back on.

I was curious what men would tell me about this topic so I asked them:

“If you stay friends with an ex-girlfriend, what is the reason?”

I have remained friends with almost every ex-boyfriend or guy I’ve dated, not on purpose or by design, but simply because it just sort of happened.

It’s always amazed me how someone can be completely in love with someone at one moment and then a few months or years later, they can’t stand the sight of them. A lot can happen between two people in a short amount of time but ultimately you most likely loved the person at some point and believed you couldn’t or didn’t want to live without them.

Since I interview men, I’ve decided to ask this question only of them. I realize that women also stay friends with their exes for various reasons, but I was curious why men would do this.

There seems to be two different opinions on this and while some men find it absurd to remain friends with an ex, others feel it’s difficult to sever the ties and prefer to take the friendship with them.

I asked about 95 men this question and a little over half of them told me they prefer to move on and not stay friends with an ex simply because there was no purpose in doing so; when it’s over, it’s over.

A married male nurse in his early 50’s from Cincinnati, OH replied: “Are you kidding me? That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard!”


A married CEO from Brooklyn, NY in his late 50’s shared: “Why not? We shared something beautiful and it’s hard to just turn that off. I still care about them and that doesn’t go away.”

There were men who told me they aren’t sure why they stay friends with an ex, but they knew they didn’t want to walk away from them.

Of course there was the typical response of, “I might be able to get some extra sex from them and some great conversation.”-A 40 year-old single artist from Sweden. However, that type of response was less than common than I expected.

It seems that men don’t turn off their feelings as quickly as women think they do. Plenty of men said they still had feelings for the woman even though they knew she wasn’t the one.

I believe these types of friendships can be very rewarding and fun, however, both men and women need to be careful of falling into the trap of thinking that it means something that you’re still friends.

Not one man said that he stays friends with an ex because he’s secretly hoping that things will work out and they will get back together. Some men did say that they like having someone on the “back-burner” but that person was only really there until he found the right woman. Once he finds the right woman, he will most likely clear off his stove. If he still cares about you and has feelings for you but you’re his ex, then chances are you’ll probably remain his friend and nothing more.

So don’t be fooled into thinking he’s keeping you around for something other than genuine friendship or casual sex. He may truly enjoy your friendship and company but he’s not hoping for a second chance at a relationship down the road.

“There are some people that you share something with and you want them to remain in your life as long as possible; you don’t ever want to lose them.”- A 43-year-old married hotel manager from London shared.

Another married CEO from Pennsylvania in his late 40’s said: “I think it’s disrespectful to stay friends with an ex. Guys usually do that because they are not 100% in love with the girl but they like her a lot and care about her. It’s not right though because they know she’s not the one and it’s only misleading her. Guys should walk away completely if the relationship ends.”

I’m sure the exception is out there and somewhere there is a couple that remained friends after a break up and got back together. However, the majority of men seem to remain friends with an ex because they genuinely care about them, can’t seem to let them go even though they know she’s not the one, or they’re secretly hoping she’ll be ok with being friends with benefits.

Providing you are aware of his intentions, this type of friendship can be very fun and fulfilling because there is a level of comfort and trust in most cases. As long as you know that he’s most likely keeping you around for friendship and companionship and not much more, than I would say go for it and have fun.

As with most relationships though, having very little expectations and not looking to the other person to fulfill your needs, is the best way to approach it.


I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave me a comment below.

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Displaying 2 Comments
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  1. Dan says:

    I had a nice summer romance when I was 13, but she lived far away. We became pen pals until we were 19, then lost track. When internet came around (early 40’s) we found each other and have remained close friends since. I think the reason this worked is because (a) we formed a bond through letters and (b) we were unencumbered by sex. Now, some 43 years later, we still write and phone and enjoy each other’s company. We have even gotten together for dinner when professional travel allowed that to happen. However, I should add that our respective spouses would never approve. Thus, a quiet friendship.

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you sharing that story. A lot of the men I spoke to have a strong desire to stay friends with an ex simply because they cherish the friendship and enjoy the woman’s company. There are always some people in our lives who will forever remain special to us regardless of where we end up or who we end up with.
      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

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