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Why Being Friends with Your Ex May Not be Good for You

be friends with my exWhen people say, “I just want to stay friends with my ex,” I assume they are well-intended. But is it a good idea? I’m not so sure.

Three Reasons People Want to Stay Friends with Their Ex

  1. They think it is best for the children.
  2. They still love their ex.
  3. They still view their ex as their best friend.

Do you see yourself in that list?

Let’s take a look at each of these reasons to see what makes staying friends a questionable idea.

We Need to Stay Friends for the Children

Actually, you do best to stay cordial to one another. Being comfortable enough with your ex to go to your children’s events at the same time blesses your children. But being able to work together for the good of your children doesn’t necessitate friendship.

Friendships entail an emotional involvement that may not be good for your children or you. If you and your ex are acting like friends you may be doing your children an injustice. Sharing your day, discussing life’s challenges, and socializing together may give your children false hope that you will be reunited in marriage. When this doesn’t happen, kids once again experience a loss.

I Still Love My Ex

One of the great challenges of healing the pain of divorce is being able to let go of emotional bonds.  Breaking the bonds of marriage can be very difficult, especially if you didn’t want the divorce.  Trying to maintain a friendship with your ex can be emotionally confusing to you and stifle your ability to let go of the past and heal.

My Ex has Been My Best Friend for Years

It is hard to let go, even when the other person has made it clear they no longer want to be married to you.  Trying to stay friends may seem like it will make the break up easier.  It likely won’t and may even make it harder.

Prolonging the process of letting go of your spouse complicates the dynamics of your new relationship as two people who are no longer married to each other. Since moving beyond divorce means letting go, making a defining break rather than dragging it out makes sense.

A defining break says, I am me, you are you, and we are no longer us.

Hanging on to friendship with your former spouse even when reconciliation is not possible also has the potential to interfere with future relationships. Think about it. Would you want to become romantically involved with someone who is still close to a former spouse? Probably not.

The New You

Having a civil working relationship with your ex is essential to the good of your children but don’t confuse that with friendship. Work on breaking your emotional ties to your ex and establishing your own identity as a single person. Once your relationship is re-defined as two independent adults you improve your chances of having a cordial relationship that is not confused by the past.


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV


Healing from divorce and moving on with your life is full of challenges.  Leaning on God can make all the difference.  He still loves you very much.

Ponder this reading and share your thoughts with God. Listen so that the Holy Spirit might fill you with wisdom and peace. What concrete actions do you need to take based on what God is saying to you?

This post is adapted from the book, Peace after Divorce by Renee Smith Ettline.


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2 Comments on Why Being Friends with Your Ex May Not be Good for You

  1. Hayden says:

    I am a divorcee(44 and 1 kid), I have a female friend(35 no kids, never married) for over a year now. we are both born again. The name of the Lord is never far from our lips each time(once a week) we meet. I have fallen for this woman not physically although she is talented physically, but I fell in love with her besides the imperfections of her past and present because we are so bold about our imperfections/flaws. The thing is, we always include God in everything and we know that when we are weak we are strong. We never had any physical contact not even a kiss. She is living in the same complex with her ex boyfriend but according to her they’ve been apart for more than three years. She is an intern and the landlord who is the ex boyfriends mother loves her and takes her as a daughter and pays minimized rent. She cannot afford rent anywhere else with her internship salary. I’m a permanent worker. It worries me that she lives close to her ex because I truly have feelings for her, but she gives me mixed signals about most things. She has had a rough past and comes from another town and does not know many people and feels safe where she lives. We go out on a monthly basis and enjoy the fellowship, yes we even have wine together sometimes but nothing else and no other motives get involved. I pray about the situation. Somehow I feel it just seems right and ive heard her saying the same too, regarding persuit of a relationship. Ive never had a women friend in Christ before, this is something new to me because of our getting together as friends and having fun. I truly love this woman like no other but there are complications especially her being trapped where she lives. What do I do? I cant get her out of my head as a potential wife. We enjoy each others company.

    • Renee Ettline says:

      It is lovely to have a woman who is a Christian friend and Christ is the keystone to a successful Christian marriage. Yet, falling in love with a woman who is still living close to her boyfriend must certainly be confusing, especially with all of the other complexities including mixed signals from her. Whenever I’m in a confusing situation, I find talking with God and the Word of God to be most helpful. God will speak to you through Scripture and in prayer and He will guide your path.

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