My ex partner wants to remain friends but I don't know if we should


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I am utterly confused and am unsure what to do for the best. My partner and I were together for nearly two years, until he broke up with me 5 days before Christmas. It wasn't the easiest of two years. There were a lot of ups and downs. We started a relationship and then he went away for a month and I only saw him on weekends and then he moved away to do a Masters and we were in a long distance relationship for nearly a year. Then covid hit and he came back but we couldn't see each other properly and then in August last year I started having flashbacks to my childhood sexual abuse. I had no recollection of any of these memories up until then. It was really hard like my entire life was a lie and I really struggled with C-PTSD symptoms and still do, just not to the extent I did in August. He moved in because I couldn't sleep alone and he wanted to be there for me but he struggled living with my family. Then in December he told me that he didn't want a relationship with me anymore and that he wanted to focus on himself. Honestly my whole world came crashing down it was another hurdle to have to overcome on top of everything else. He moved out. He is part of my support network. We had been doing couples counselling sessions up until March, which didn't really shed any light on what to do. The counsellor just kept saying that we have such a strong connection and that we are both so adult about the situation. In a way it was helpful but also not because its like being stuck in an unknown. We have been seeing each other and he is still the person that I turn to when I need someone because he wants to be. He says he wants to be the person that I call when I need help. But I am struggling because its like we are still in a relationship without the title. This week my C-PTSD has been really hitting me and I have been struggling and the thought of losing him really shakes me up and triggers me. He was the first person I told about what happened to me and I really love him and he loves me but he doesn't want to be with me. It is really painful sometimes knowing that. Thinking that he will eventually move on and that will break my heart even more. A tiny part of me thinks that we should cut contact to be able to both move on. But then a massive part of me can't stand the thought of losing him. I just don't know what to do for the best. Any advice?


This week my C-PTSD has been really hitting me
I’ve learned to place a moratorium on major decision making when this happens. Unless I happen to want to punish myself by f*cking up my life beyond recognition, and often beyond repair? Major decisions need to wait until my head is clear.

Minor decision making just creates unnecessary bullshit drama, pain, & chaos. But major decision making? Means when I come out of the storm I’ve lost people, careers, homes... lives I’ve loved living. All for the lack of a little patience. But that’s the cost in not trusting myself. When my symptoms kick up? That’s the first person I lose trust in; my own self. So I run about reversing decisions I’ve made, scuttling plans in motion, and worse. It’s not until it’s over that I can see the wreckage I made of my life, by doing so.

Took me years and years to learn that lesson.

Storms? Are meant to be ridden out. Not to treat as the new state of being and alter everything in order to suit them. Because storms pass. If I’m doing badly? I need to wait. I despise waiting. I’m bad at it. But neither my impatience nor my lack of skill makes it less necessary.

^^^ ETA ^^^ Waiting until my head/heart are clear to make major decisions? Doesn’t mean that I won’t make the same decision I wanted to make earlier. I might. I might not. I might go after the same ends in a different way, IE half&half of might/might not. Because it’s NOT waiting if I just do the opposite of whatever I wanted when things are hard. It’s the reverse. It’s only making decisions when everything is all foggy, instead of all clear, to just do the opposite. Which works out just as badly as one might imagine.
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It's my personal belief that we can't have too many actual friends. I mean, I sure wouldn't dump a good friend just because he didn't want to be in a sexual relationship with me. There are all kinds of "relationships". Besides, by not demanding anything too complicated right now, he's giving you space to get some stuff sorted out without having to deal with an intimate relationship at the same time.

So the question, to me, is "Is this a good relationship?" Do you both get something out of it? Something healthy?

I'm still friends with the last guy I went out with. We've both "moved on". He's married to someone else. We're still friends and we catch up every now and then. He, and his wife are welcome in my house any time. At the time, what he wanted from a long term relationship and what I wanted weren't the same. Doesn't make anyone the bad guy. We went our own ways and were better for it. My ex-husband and I, eventually, got to where we were on decent terms. That was a little more complicated because along the way I learned I couldn't believe a word he said, but knowing that was a plus. Things don't have to be black and white. The world is full of shades of gray.


Only you can find the answer to that.

I am best friends with my ex. We were together for 5 years. It broke my heart. We tried continuing to live together after we broke up as she wanted that. But, it just made me feel like I was losing my mind (knowing she went on a date and that she hadn't come home, etc, I'd rather not have been waiting for her to come home and would rather not have known). That caused me pain. So we moved out. She dated immediately on us breaking up, so I had to cope with that. But: 18 years late, we're still friends.

I think the heart ache of knowing they are moving on with their lives is balanced with thinking about the loss of them from your life. I set boundaries in place (i.e not living together , not knowing all her movements and what she was doing). And felt the heartache was worth the friendship.

Challenging balance to make, and you might find some days easier than others or some things easier than others.


Hiya @willow1, it's not easy to make friends in life. And one of the things I've learnt in life (the hard way) is that people develop/change/move on/have different emotional or physical needs.

if you still have a good caring relationship with that person then keep it just as that. Only you can weigh up the pro's and cons but it sounds to me that you have something really good there. Maybe you need to focus on healing yourself for a while and even though your not "together" he's said he still wants to be friends. That could be very useful.

best wishes S3 🙂


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I’ll go with the unpopular opinion and say cut him off. End it. It’s only when you can get over that desire to want him sexually, physically, mentally, and emotionally as a partner, that is actual friendship possible. Until then you’ll just be torturing yourself because you still have a level of desire for him that he does not and will not reciprocate.

Been there. Done that. And NEVER doing it again.


This situation is confusing here, as I do not understand his motives. I am still very close from my ex husband (he isn’t actually my ex husband as we didn’t marry, but it just feels like that) and is, really the person who’d throw himself in the fire to help me. I also have my irritations with him and shifting a romantic relationship to a friendship isn’t something that happens in one day. For getting there I even changed my country and have a time by myself, dating other people, doing my stuff. It was a relationship of 6 years that was already very much crappy sexually but based on a strong friendship. I was the one that left.

Also having such a big confidante as your ex might be spooky for the next ones. And IT’S OKAY. My mistake has been to try to accept the desire of the next serious partner to cut him off completely, but given that my family is really trash at emotional and practical support, my ex is just what I have the closest to that. If someone feels in concurrence to your old understanding friend it’s their right, but either they manage it either they leave. Otherwise the old friend will grow and thicken, or you’ll feel like you’re cutting yourself from a type of relationship you need and that is very distinct from a romantic partnership, and it’s not good for you.

Some will find it bizarre or non acceptable, but the only measure to know if it’s okay is you. I would be quite wary of still having unmatched feelings as it’s a rough spot and would need reasons to understand this better, and if I can tolerate to speak to someone I want to be close to and not just a very friendly and intelligent transponder, roger. Most of your relationship seems to have happened in these conditions and it sounds quite frustrating. The transponder friend you visit from time to time is a very good one and it can be very rewarding for both, but you need to be on the same page.

So while you might not need to completely cut your off, you can do whatever mark you think would be useful for helping you to transition if you find it will be beneficial for you. If all that it brings is distress, sadness, frustration and feeling that that intimacy spot cannot be taken by anyone else (which is normal for a time but on the long run it’s heartbroken syndrome), then it might not be the best idea on hand.

And the most important: we have the right to make weird choices and mistakes. Don’t let anyone try to force your own judgement over what you feel is right. Things can be good without having to be optimal too. But more than just love and be loved, that’s a good start, try to see what this does entail for both of you. It might sound a bit mundane, but I think it’s important to understand what is brought on the table in a relationship quite in the detail when it comes to that kind of thing. What are your fears, expectations and boundaries… this has to be discussed and reviewed from time to time. And not in times of spinning ’round because of an episode, that’s for sure.

In any case the best way to find yourself good in any kind of transitional relationship is to find things to do for yourself and start from there. Not that you have to delete his support, but start to diffuse your time in other things and, frankly, distractions are okay too if it makes sense. Or having a forward-project. So you don’t have the impression you’re losing something so much, just that things will be different from now.

Be confident you’ll find someone to spend your nights and sweet time with, and people with whom all of this is okay and understood.

When we find exceptional connections, there are two things. For one, that connections can be indeed exceptional. For two, that if it happened once, it can be repeated. The density and the meaningfulness of a relationship can obfuscate the potential for that to happen with other people. If you loved madly once, well it means you’re capable of loving madly. So be confident in your own love. Some may judge you for this but it’s the most beautiful capacity I do see in people, being capable of loving without any sense of possession. Sorry if I’m rambling a bit, I hope this makes sense for you and is useful too.

This is my first day on this forum and I came across your thread :) It spoke to me as I am just 2 weeks from a breakup. It was a short relationship, nevertheless, it was full of deep experiences. He needed to end it for good reasons and I had to accept it. We care about each other and there is a lot to build a possible great friendship upon that would be beneficial for both of us. We share a lot of interests, traits, tastes etc. We understand each other's struggles. Cutting all ties seems a bit of a dramatic thing to do. It seems it makes it even sadder in some way.

We broke up and decided we will try to be friends. But first, it is important for me to take a lot of time for self-care, to dedicate my time to other relationships in my life, to make sure I am able to focus on work, to take time and do things I really love. Even little things like going for a walk in a forest or chilling by a lake can be beneficial. It is important to be mindful and focus on getting the strength back, to recover from the vulnerability that the breakup brought.

It is indeed better to have some time when we don't see each other, so the process of getting emotionally free is not slowed down. I hope soon I will regain my desire to explore myself in a new romantic relationship.

Surely it is sad when a relationship has to end. I think it is important to understand that when there is a good reason for your partner or you to end the relationship, it is just as good of a reason for you or your partner. Because if the base for a relationship is gone for one, there is no way a relationship can flourish. A person needs to understand that holding on to something that seems to work in her/his wishful mind and not in reality, is an investment into prolonged suffering and heartbreak.

For me, it is relieving to know that I am capable of making someone feel loved. Perhaps it is interesting to explore a thought that you have been a part of something beautiful. Surely it is a sad thing it had to end, but it only shows that other relationships are there to come and exciting new things are there waiting for you. There are more wonderful people to meet. And these people may make you experience things you would never imagine. And you may grow again, and find out more about yourself. I find it inspiring :)

One thing that is good in my situation is that my ex was open to talking to me whenever I needed to, if I had questions, or if I just needed to talk about how I feel. For me it was important not to start to make up in my mind reasons why he needed to separate, not to start to blame myself and my complex emotional makeup. It was important to know that it is not my fault. I experience a strong sense of guilt as one of my PTSD symptoms. I also find it extremely difficult to trust people and I was afraid that that has made an impact on him. So it was important for me to verify with him if I have made any extra pressure on him. I am happy he is so openminded and caring about my need to talk about these things. And it seems that in your case your ex is also the kind of person who may help you to ease out of the state you are in. It is nice of him not to be passive. But this should be taken as friendly care, and not mistaken for something else.

I wish you find the sense of new beginnings ;)

Writing is hard for me. I hope I did make sense here :)))