Can Being Friends with an Ex Lead Back into a Relationship?

This one is super tricky because…..

Being friends with an ex may seem harmless until one of you starts to feel a rekindling of feelings. 

This scenario has been featured in multiple sitcoms, series, and movies. So much so that it’s become the consensus (although sometimes tongue-in-cheek) that being friends with an ex is simply taboo. 

Some might say that friendship can remain just that, and potentially that’s true.

If you’re both over the relationship and fully agree that you don’t have feelings and it could never work, perhaps friendship is a possibility, right?

Before deciding if it’s possible to be good friends with your ex, you’ll need to consider a few things, so read on!

Being Friends With An Ex – Is it a Good Idea?

Dun, dun, duuuun! And there it is! The desire to have your ex back and the opportunistic thinking of, “We’ll just start as friends…for now!” 

Most of us have been there. We’re in a relationship that doesn’t seem to be working. It breaks off for some or other reason, but then, several weeks, months, or years down the line, we think, “But, hey! That person was great. Maybe I should go back there.”

Should you go there?

Well, it really depends on how upfront you’re going to be in the process and whether or not the relationship is healthy for both of you. 

If you think you can keep your feelings in check, being friends with your ex could actually be a good way to get back together. Just make sure you have a clear plan and can keep your cool. This way, you’re not just stuck in the past, but you’re also giving yourselves a chance for a new start.

If you’re not careful, though, staying friends with your ex can backfire and make things complicated. Without clear boundaries and a plan, you might end up stuck in a confusing “friend zone” that neither of you are happy with.

This can also make it harder to move on from your EX and could even ruin your chances of finding a new passionate relationship. So, if you can’t manage your emotions or aren’t clear about what you both want, it might be better to keep your distance.

How to Be Friends with an Ex To Get Back into Relationship?

If it’s the route you’re going to take, there are several things you need to know about staying friends with your ex in a way that leads back into a relationship. 

Now, this isn’t a devious endeavor, and if you’re midway through your “let’s be friends” plan, and it’s evident that the relationship is unstable or unhealthy, it’s probably best to cut your losses and walk away. 

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Establish a Genuine Friendship

Let’s face it, friendship and relationships aren’t built on wishy-washy or shallow connections. Whether you will be friends or “something more,” you should seek a genuine friendship. 

And yes, that means being there for your ex, even if it doesn’t mean you’ll be winning them over. Sometimes being a genuine friend can lead to more – something deeper.

While the romance dynamic is sure to be on your mind, focus on trying to get to know your ex on other levels too. 

Find out what their new interests and favorite activities are. Focus on having fun instead of just getting what you want.

2. Make it clear you want more than just being friends

There’s no version of reality where being cloak and dagger about friendship with your ex will end well. If you’re denying feelings and being devious to win them back, you may find yourself shining in the end, but as the bad guy/girl – so it’s best to avoid that. 

If you want to be more than friends, let your ex know that you still have an interest there, but – and here’s the important part – also let them know that you won’t push things or have any expectations. 

You’re staying friends for now, and if there’s an opportunity for more, you’d love for them to let you know.

Honesty is the best policy.

2. Rebuild Emotional Connection and Chemistry

Being friends with someone is generally platonic. When feelings start to develop, that’s when the emotional connection and chemistry spark.

You know that excitement, almost like you have a million butterflies in your stomach? Well, that’s chemistry, and it only happens when you connect with someone on some level. 

You can develop these feelings when you’re sure there’s an emotional connection from your side. For example, you may feel more comfortable and familiar with each other. 

That awkwardness has left, and you’re feeling at home in each other’s presence – that’s the proverbial “sweet spot.”

Another sign of an emotional bond forming is that you have mutual understanding and empathy for each other. Instead of saying you understand or “feel bad” when something upsets your ex, you may genuinely feel upset or disappointed with them.

One of the biggest signs of a bond forming, or in full swing, is when you’re comfortable sharing vulnerable or intimate information with them. 

When you’re telling them things you’d never tell anyone else, indicating an emotional connection.

3. Revisit the Past and Shared Memories

Transforming a friendship with an ex into a new relationship can rely heavily on nostalgia. All those memories you share in the past will come to the fore.

Here’s the thing, though. Some memories will be painful and require you to work through things together.

If you genuinely want to build something with your ex, you’ve got to work through the hard memories but spend some time reminiscing about the happy times you had together. 

If you feel things are getting too heavy, share some inside jokes and remind them of funny events you experienced together. 

Sharing memories and looking back is a great way to share and explore personal growth and help each other see how much you have both changed since you broke up.

4. Rebuild Trust and Resolve Issues

One of the most important parts of transitioning from a friendship into a relationship again is ensuring that the bad parts of the past are left dead and buried. 

And you know what that means, right? Yep! It means talking about it!

You’ve to keep your self-esteem aside and address the issues. In fact being friends with will make it easier to talk about these issues – because of detachment.

There will come a stage in the friendship where you discuss the break up and its reasons. Both parties need to take responsibility and not be accusatory during these conversations. 

Focus on engaging in an open and honest conversation about what happened. You should both lay your proverbial cards on the table, being honest about your concerns, where things went wrong, and what boundaries would be required to avoid the same thing happening again.

For this type of conversation to work and to strengthen and deepen your bond, both parties must commit to working on their personal growth and dealing with the issues that caused the initial break up.

Self-betterment is the key!

5. Focus on Mutual Growth and Self Development

Here’s the clincher – the relationship has to be about “us” and “we.”

Growing together and developing as a team is important for a new relationship to survive. You’d wouldn’t stay friends if you didn’t have mutual goals and ideas. 

Take the time to talk about personal changes you have gone through since the breakup and how you would like to grow together. Perhaps you should have joint projects, goals you’d like to reach, or a plan for your future. 

This isn’t about forcing each other to “do things together” but rather about laying the groundwork for knowing what to expect and allowing both parties to be supportive and encouraging.

You may even find that this type of discussion makes you realize you don’t want a relationship after all.

Think of the couple where one party has ambitions to travel the world, own property overseas, and have 2 kids, and the other party never wants kids, has no desire to travel, and is happy to play Xbox on the couch every night of the week.

6. Create New Positive Memories & Feelings

Enough about the past! It’s time to focus on the now and the future.

A large part of changing from a friendship into a relationship with an ex is designing a new chapter of memories and feelings you can share.

Don’t just sit on the couch! Make plans together. Make weekends and free time about adventure, communicating, exploring, and sharing. 

The more positive memories you create now, the better.

7. Give it Time – Be Patient 

No magic cure can solve the hurts of the past and make a friendship turn into a magical relationship overnight. 

Here’s where you need to be patient and realistic. Everything worth it takes time. 

Don’t try to force it because if you do, you could be the reason things end prematurely. Be prepared to put some time and effort into it and to be patient, even if you want everything to be perfect right now. 

Before you take things deeper than friendship, assess how you and your ex communicate and bond.

Does it feel right for both of you?

Are you picking up on cues that your ex feels as comfortable and “at home” with you as you feel?

If it seems your ex is doing well with a friendship but isn’t indicating that they want more or still seems to be cut up about the past, it’s better to hang back and give them more time. Some people take a little longer to work through things.

How long should you be friends with an ex before getting back together?

It’s impossible to attach a timeline to how long you should be friends before trying to get back together with your ex. There are too many complexities at play. 

For instance, the reason for breaking up, how you’ve both changed, and whether you’re compatible can all impact the time it takes to transition from friendship to relationship. It can also depend on whether you have the same goals for the future.

Mostly, it’s a touch-and-go or play-it-by-ear situation that can be a different period for everyone.

A good rule of thumb could be a friendship period of at least three to six months. This allows enough time to evaluate your feelings, assess changes, self reflection, and align future goals. However, every situation is unique, so use your best judgment and communicate openly with your ex to decide when the time is right for both of you.


If you’re going to start a friendship with your ex with the end-game being a relationship, remember to be open, upfront, honest, and patient. Explicitly tell you ex, you want to be more than just a friend.

Be willing to put in the work, or don’t approach the situation at all. 

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Jayme Wium
About Jayme Wium

Jayme is a certified relationship & communications Counselor and a professional writer with 13 years of experience. She lives in the United Kingdom with her Daxies, reading and writing as much as her free time will allow.

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