There are times when we break up with someone but still think we’re capable of being friends with them, because, obviously, we are modern, liberated badasses for whom being BFFs with someone who’s seen your butthole is completely normal. The truth is, some people manage to make this legitimately work, whether it’s because they weren’t all that interested in each other in the first place or because they’ve had the exact correct number of therapy sessions. But as much as it can be rad to stay friends with an ex under the right circumstances, it’s also totally normal — nay, more common — to catch the telltale signs that being friends with your ex isn’t working at all.
We’re not talking about Facebook friends, here either. We mean real IRL friends with an ex.
This is the ex that you legit try to hang out with now and again, or maybe you text each other now and again and talk about your life, your dreams, or worse, your Tinder dates. Being friends with an ex is not easy, so you shouldn’t feel bad if you find that it’s harder than you thought and need to take some steps way, way back. Or like, all the way out the door.
Here are some signs being with friends with your ex isn’t working for either one of you.
1You’re still fighting.
This should probably be an obvious one, but one we tend to ignore fighting with our exes because you and your ex have been fighting for so long now anyway, what’s the difference? Well, the difference is you broke up for a reason. And that reason was definitely not so you could keep fighting. If every time you talk or hang out, things start going great, but eventually devolve into hashing out new or old beefs, it’s a problem. That is just a drawn-out bad relationship, not a productive friendship.
2You keep secrets from each other.
We don’t tell our actual friends everything, but we wouldn’t lie by omitting important details either. If you sort of gloss over parts of your life right now just to spare their feelings or avoid a fight, you’re not being as kind as you think, especially if the info you’re omitting is about you dating other people. We’re not saying you have to give your friend-ex all the detail about your sex life, but if you find yourself acting like you don’t have one at all, it’s a bad sign that you aren’t so much “friends” as you are “exes who are still in each other’s lives.” Also, when the other person doesn’t know you’re moving on, you risk leading them on.
3You still feel like you’re cheating on them.
When you’re playing around with potentials on a dating app or actually do go home with someone, you feel like you’re cheating on your boo. But they’re your ex and you’re allowed to do whatever and whomever you want. You don’t have to tell them all the details, but you shouldn’t have to hide your new hookup buddy from a friend if they’re a real friend.
4You’re still having sex with each other.
Kudos to you if you can manage to keep your old emotions for this person out of the newfound “friends with benefits” thing you’ve created with your ex. Hey, maybe you have sex with your friends in general — more power to you — but sleeping with your ex is way more complicated than sleeping with someone you’ve always just been friends with.
5You’re keeping tabs on them.
You and your ex are up in each others messages day in and day out, but when you don’t hear from them you start to lose your cool. Or you’re tally each others dates and hookups and how they’re handling the breakup. Is this jealousy we sense? It probably is, and that’s totally normal…which is exactly why most people aren’t friends with their exes.
6You’re holding on for dear life.
If one or the other of you has decided to stay friends just because doing the work of actually detaching from each other is too hard, then the situation is almost definitely a disaster waiting to happen. Yo, we get it. It’s in our nature to want to be attached with people that make us comfortable, not to mention that changing up your routine and social circle is hard. You depended on this person for physical and emotional intimacy once. But if it obviously wasn’t working back then, what makes you think it is going to now?