By Chris Seiter

Published on August 11th, 2022

Today’s article is going to be a quick one.

We’re going to talk about exactly what’s going on when an ex says he doesn’t want to be friends with you after a breakup.

In my opinion, determining if an ex means it or not when they say “they don’t want to be friends” is a function of when they actually say it.

Here’s the general rule of thumb we like to live by on Ex Boyfriend Recovery.

  1. The sooner after a breakup it’s said the less likely they are to really mean it.
  2. The later it’s said the more likely they are to mean it

Now, I actually had to pull in both Coach Shaunna and Coach Anna to answer this one so all three of us sort of teamed up on this article.

Here’s what we’re going to be talking about

  • Helping You Understand Why Your Ex Says They Don’t Want To Be Friends
  • Taking A Look At The Reasons People Would Want To Be Friends After A Breakup
  • Taking A Look At Who Is More Likely To Stay Friends After A Breakup

Let’s begin!

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Understanding Why He Doesn’t Want To Be Friends After A Breakup

I’m going to admit that I initially really struggled with how to approach this question.

Generally when I start articles like this I’ll write down a few thoughts on why I think certain phenomenon’s are occurring. Essentially I write a bunch of hypotheses down and then I’ll spend 30 minutes to an hour verifying my hypotheses by some real world research.

So, in this case my hypothesis was simple, since I’ve been on an avoidant kick and avoiding things seems to be right up a dismissive avoidants alley I figured that the reason that an ex boyfriend would say they don’t want to be friends is because they were dismissive avoidant.

Yet shockingly, in all my research I found that dismissive avoidants actually prefer to be friends with their ex. More on this in a moment.

For maybe an hour I was stumped and on the verge of picking another topic. That was until I found that two of the Ex Recovery coaches, Coach Shaunna and Coach Anna were performing a Facebook Live in our private facebook support group.

So, I put the question to them and their answers were interesting and when I compared their hypothesis against the findings of our success stories I found a winner.

Now, before I get to that I want to make one thing clear. I know I am the face of Ex Boyfriend Recovery. I am the founder. I’ve created the program and on and on and on. There seems to be this misconception that I know the answers to everything when in fact I don’t.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know a lot, but sometimes like in this case here I need help.

And I’m not afraid to admit that I asked for it.

Luckily, Shaunna and Anna swooped in so I’ll let them take over here.

Coach Shaunna and Anna’s Take On Why Exes Say They Don’t Want To Be Friends

I’m paraphrasing their answer on the live here but here’s the gist,

The big point that needs to be driven home is that it’s not usually a matter of “why they don’t want to be friends” but a matter of “if they mean it.”

Generally speaking it’s normal to say, “I don’t want to be friends after a breakup.” It’s even normal to still have this mentality a little after the no contact rule sometimes as well. When a breakup occurs usually it’s more of an emotional reaction where your partner can’t imagine being platonic with you and can’t bear the thought of seeing you happy with someone else.

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They lash out as a result and their first declaration is that they don’t want to be friends. They can exert some level of control in the situation and control is good, it makes them feel powerful in an situation where they aren’t usually feeling too powerful.

But timing is important to consider here.

Let’s say you’ve been going through the process and building rapport in the post breakup period for 6 months with an ex only to have them say,

“Look, I don’t want to be friends with you.”

In this case your ex is probably being more genuine

But what about the opposite side of the spectrum? What about those folks who do want to stay friends with an ex.

Looking At The Major Reasons For Why An Ex Would Want To Be Friends

In my excessive search for an answer to my original hypothesis (which was proven wrong) I ended up stumbling across this article from Psychology Today.

It talks about their being four main reasons for exes wanting to stay friends after a breakup.

  1. Habitual: Essentially you’ve grown so used to relying on this person for emotional support. Sometimes it’s easier to just stay in the habitual routine as opposed to facing the world without it.
  2. Financial/Kids: You live together, you share children together, there is some sort of social status of the relationship to consider
  3. Kindness: Some people are just unbelievably kind and can’t bear the thought of hurting their ex so they choose to remain friends. Maybe even there’s a touch of guilt playing into things here
  4. Romance: Unresolved feelings. Need I say more?

Now, I actually think we can reverse engineer these four things and use them as almost a quality check on your ex to see if they mean what they say or not by not wanting to be friends.

Here’s how that will work.

Basically look at the list above and see if your ex falls in to it. If they do then next take a look at the timing of when they are saying “they don’t want to be friends.”

Of course, there is one more data point I’d like to look at.

Who Is More Likely To Stay Friends After A Breakup?

I’ve been teasing the avoidant thing for quite a while.

So, buried in that psychology today article was some interesting research.

I’ll just quote it directly,

Overall, a majority of participants (59% in Study 1 and 65% in Study 2) remained friends with ex-partners. However, some people were more likely to want to stay friends with their partner after the breakup. In particular, men in Study 1 were more likely to want to stay friends than were women (though Study 2 found no difference). Personality was also a factor, such that those who were less extroverted and more agreeable wanted to stay friends. Individuals with more avoidant attachment (i.e., uncomfortable with closeness) and less anxious attachment (i.e., strong desire for closeness) were also more likely to remain friends. Finally, they found that LGBTQ individuals had more current and lifetime friendships with former partners compared to heterosexual participants.

Here are the important bits,

  • Men want to stay friends with their exes more so than women.
  • Introverts tended to want to stay friends more than extroverts
  • Avoidants wanted to stay friends
  • And LGBTQ were friends with exes more so than heterosexuals


Well, here’s what I think.

  • Men staying friends – Something tells me this has more to do with unresolved romantic feelings more than anything else. Again, that’s a hypothesis so don’t quote me on it.
  • Introverts- Probably because for someone with introverted tendencies finding friends can be more challenging.
  • Avoidants- I think this has something to do with wanting the closeness of the relationship without actually needing to commit
  • LGBTQ- Coach Tyler is really the expert here but something he said struck me. The LGBTQ community is smaller and a bit more close knit. Perhaps a strength in numbers approach?

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3 thoughts on “He Doesn’t Want To Be Friends After A Breakup”

  1. Lynn

    September 17, 2023 at 10:03 pm

    I had an ex say it was to soon to be friends if we broke up. He also said he wanted to make sure I would one day meet his children. Looking back I can see how confused he was. We did not break up at that time but he eventually ended up ghosting me several weeks later.

  2. Justina

    November 20, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    He asked to be friends when he broke up with me, I told him I couldn’t. He is an avoidant, I am anxious with some secure tendencies.
    Did I make a mistake ?

    1. Coach Shaunna Nicol

      January 12, 2023 at 10:54 pm

      Hey Justina, no you did not make a mistake. You do not want friendship you want a relationship. While he is still single you do not allow yourself to be friendzoned, work through the materials to help you understand the No Contact rule and the Avoidant information too as this is really useful.