‘Let’s Be Friends’: Why Some Folks Can’t Let Go After It’s Over


You break up with your boo and all hell breaks loose. Even the most amicable splits are accompanied by feelings of loss, and for many, the thought of your significant other no longer occupying a space in your life feels very empty.

So you present the option of  “being friends” and before you know it, you have a long list of “buddies” who you used to be romantically involved with.

As it turns out, many people decide to attempt to establish a friendship after a breakup and a new study is shedding light on why that is.

The study, appropriately titled, “Staying friends with ex-romantic partners: Predictors, reasons, and outcomes,” analyzed data collected from two separate surveys. Researchers asked participants whether they choose to stay friends with exes and if they do, why. Of the 288 people poled in the first survey and the 536 poled in the second survey, more than half confessed to attempting to be friends with their exes.

Why? Well the study cited four main reasons: security, practicality, civility and unresolved romantic desires.

But despite our overwhelming propensity to remain friends with our exes, researchers strongly advise against it.

“Romantic relationships tend to end for specific reasons (e.g., the partners do not love each other anymore, one partner cheated on the other). Whatever the reason, it was sufficient to get the partners to endure the negative and even painful experience of dissolving their romantic relationship,” the study says. “Despite these reasons and the potentially negative experience involved in the breakup, some people choose to remain friends with their ex-romantic partners.”

The researchers of the study also cautioned those who choose to remain friends in hopes of getting back together: don’t.

“Staying friends due to unresolved romantic desires resulted in negative outcomes, whereas staying friends due to security and practical reasons resulted in more positive outcomes,” according to the study.