Befriending Your Ex: The Ultimate Repurposing Project

When it comes to investing my time, I am the stingiest little biotch you’ll ever meet. I only have a few close friends, because if someone has dodgy character or doesn’t appreciate my passion for soft cheeses, I immediately declare that person a WOT (waste o’time). Boyfriends are no exception. Even though I’m now happily married, I’m still proud of every guy I ever deemed worthy to be Keri’s Boyfriend, because they were all great men with big hearts who truly loved and supported me. (Even the ones who dumped me!) So when those relationships ended, you best believe I cashed in all that invested time and refurbished that ‘ish into a friendship.


Salvaging a friendship from a failed relationship sounds mostly impossible because ex-boyfriends are generally viewed as a crappy headache best forgotten. But not all relationships end with betrayal, and not all ex-boyfriends are monsters. Just because an otherwise smart and caring individual decided he didn’t want to marry and crap out kids with you, doesn’t mean he should be discarded on the side of the road.

Ex-boyfriends can be huge allies in life because they get to know you in ways most people don’t.  All those date nights, lazy Sundays, and weekend trips, you were building a deep connection with another soul that was probably the most profound relationship in your life during that period. Turning that intimate connection into a friendly one isn’t easy, but there are a few rules that make it easier:

1. Make Sure He’s Worth It!

Let’s get one thing straight from the jump: Not all exes are worthy of your friendship. If he’s a cheater/liar/Beyonce-hater, then maybe he should stay a bad memory or lesson learned. Some relationships simply don’t work out, and there’s no one to blame. If your ex truly loved you, then he will always want what is best for you, just like you will always want what’s best for him. And isn’t that a great foundation for a friendship?

I was dumped HARD when I decided to move to Los Angeles, and I cried about my ex everyday for at least four months. The saddest part was losing a person that had been my emotional frontline for almost three years,  so never talking to him again wasn’t the right choice for me. I found a way to reintroduce him into my life as a friend about a year later, because a truly good person is worth overcoming emotional hurdles to keep around.

2. Give That Wound Some Time To Heal

The most common mistake people make is trying to re-establish a friendship when they’re still harbouring romantic feelings. We’ve all heard variations of the rule that it takes a week for every month you were with someone to really get over them, which I’ve found to be true! Depending on which ex I’m talking about, it’s taken anywhere from a few months to a few years to really feel like I had healed. Seeing an ex before you’re ready is THE WORST, so the longer you put it off, the better. Don’t worry about “waiting too long” –  the deader your romantic feelings are, the better chance your friendship will have at surviving.

3. Be Mindful of His Feelings, Too

Maybe you were the one that broke his little heart, or maybe he dumped you but it was the hardest decision of his life. You won’t be the only one that is navigating emotional land mines, and regardless of who ended the relationship, it’s easy for both people to get jealous or confused. Start slow when dishing the details of your new crush or boyfriend. Give him the chance to get comfortable with you in a better place without him. Friendships are about striking a balance of needs and wants between two people, so remind yourself that being his friend means taking his emotions into consideration.

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  • Michele Falcone

    Great piece, Keri!

  • Amy Fan

    Perfect post. Except people who chose to stop being friends with me or actually abused me in some way, I’ve always strived to remain friends with people I’ve spent a long time with, but the romantic whatever didn’t work out. There’s no point in cutting out people in your life just because you’re interested in someone else now. Thanks for writing this article.

  • Amanda Lindsey

    Love this! People are often confused by my friendship with my ex–I’m actually going to his wedding next month. It’s not easy, and it took a couple of years. But it’s definitely worth the effort to still be in each other’s lives.

  • Jamie Seymour

    I am on the opposite of this! I’m the girlfriend trying to accept my boyfriends friendship with his ex.. I wasn’t ever completely on board, but I have tried to communicate with her casually through facebook comments and she’s made zero attempt to respond. I don’t want to call her out personally in fear she’ll get defensive, but it’s a huge issue in me and my boyfriend’s relationship! Do you have any words for my issue?
    P.s. I did try to take your blog and reverse it to my favor and it helped some, thank you for the post!

    • Keri Pina

      You could chalk it up to just general Facebook Flakiness, but my gut is telling me there’s probably a reason she is unresponsive. Maybe she hasn’t healed as quickly as he has, so she isn’t ready to let you in. I agree that calling her out would probably make her defensive. If you and your boyfriend are in a long term, committed relationship (and it sounds like you are), I think it’s on him to approach the subject with her. If any of my husband’s friends (ex gfs or not) were not reciprocating friendliness with me, I would be insulted, or at least frustrated. So, I would expect him to be an advocate for me in those situations. But I think it shows maturity that you’re still open to resolving the issue. She doesn’t have to like you I guess, but straight out ignoring you sounds pretty childish, and I can’t picture a context where her behavior would be appropriate. This is probably weird territory for your boyfriend, too, so if he’s honestly trying to resolve this but maybe hasn’t figured out the best solution yet, I wouldn’t be too hard on him.

      That being said, if it turns out she isn’t at all interested in being friendly with you, then it’s up to your boyfriend to rethink why he would want this person in his life. She doesn’t sound supportive. And if your boyfriend still keeps her around when she is blatantly unsupportive, then it might be time to reevaluate him. That’s me not knowing all the details, but hopefully it helps!

      • Jamie Seymour

        I really appreciate your response and after I posted my comment I was unable to find the article until now! I’ve asked him in the past to not say anything to her in fear she’d continue out of spite with her “subtle” facebook appearances. I want to revisit the topic about her and I communicating but sometimes I feel it’s too far gone and I just have an awful hatred for her. I might reconsider someday, but she’s not my favorite person as of now. Your response is incredibly helpful, and was a nice boost in self-esteem! Thank you again!

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