10 reasons your emotionally unavailable ex wants to be friends

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If you have an emotionally unavailable ex who wants to be friends, you might be feeling confused.

It’s understandable. After all, your ex might be so hard to read you can’t tell how they feel about you.

What does it mean? Does your ex want to get back with you? Do they genuinely want to be friends?

In this article, I’ll talk you through 10 possible reasons why your emotionally unavailable ex wants to be friends. I’ll also share my thoughts on another question that’s probably on your mind – could being friends with your ex, an emotionally unavailable one at that, even work?

1) They feel guilty

Your ex could be feeling guilty, especially if they were the reason behind your breakup. Not only did they hurt you and toy with your feelings by being so emotionally unavailable, but they broke your heart by breaking up with you. It’s eating away at them.

When someone is emotionally unavailable, they often mess you around, even if they don’t mean to do it. This is because they’ve already been scarred, perhaps from a past relationship or an experience that’s caused them to be how they are.

Being friends with you could be your ex’s way of easing that guilt niggling away at them.

2) To avoid drama

Breaking up with your ex can leave you feeling hurt and betrayed. I mean, you put so much time into your relationship. You tried your best to make things work, even when your ex wasn’t putting in the same effort.

When you break up with someone you love and care about, it can stir a whole load of drama and negative feelings.

Scorned exes often hop on social media and vent their pain, anger and frustration at their ex for the world to see. They spill the beans on what went on in their former relationship. The red flags they missed or chose to ignore.

Family or friends may also get involved to defend your honour, which starts drama your ex might simply want to avoid.

3) They’re used to being around you

Your ex is used to being around you, and they don’t want things to change, even if you’re not together anymore.

Had you been with your ex for years before you broke up? Hung out with each other all the time? Talked or texted every day?

Going from spending so much time with your ex to going cold turkey can be hard to stomach for either party.

Your ex may miss out on that routine when they’re no longer with you, so they want to stay friends. They can then keep on spending precious time with you.

4) They want to be friends with benefits

Your ex could be looking for a physical relationship with you without any strings attached.

We’re talking friends with benefits or a situationship. It’s like the in-between of a friendship and a relationship, where you do relationship stuff without actually being in one.

Emotionally unavailable people like your ex are usually scared of commitment and getting hurt because of their past experiences. So, rather than risk opening themselves up to getting hurt again, they’d rather keep things physical.

This way, your ex doesn’t have to commit to you; they’re free to do as they please.

If you still have feelings for your ex, being friends with benefits is not fair on you. You only open yourself up to more pain because your ex can’t and won’t commit themselves to you.

5) They don’t know what they want

Your ex doesn’t know what they want. As in, they don’t know if they want you or not. They’re confused.

Your ex isn’t ready to move on from you, and they sure as hell don’t want to lose you. Your ex also doesn’t want you to get over them and find someone else. So, they want to be friends while they figure things out in their head.

They may also want to explore other options while figuring it out.

The thing is, if things don’t work out with their other options or they decide you’re the one, they might come running back to you. Or they might just disappear for good.

Let me ask you a question. Is your ex close to you one minute and then off the grid the next? Are they sometimes super responsive and touchy-feely but cold and distant at other times?

If you’ve experienced any of this, you might have an ex who doesn’t know what they want at your hands.

6) They value and respect you

If you had a relatively good relationship with your ex or ended on good terms, then chances are they value you. They have too much love and respect for you to lose you completely.

And if you were good friends or best friends before you two became a thing, they might also miss the friendship you had.

Maybe when it comes down to it, you both get on like a house on fire, even when the romantic side of things is taken out of the equation.

7) You make them feel good

You made your ex feel good in some way.

Perhaps you made them feel valued and happy. Wanted and attractive. Or you gave them more confidence and boosted their self-esteem. You could have made them feel like they were worth something.

Now you’re not together, and they no longer have that feeling.

You see, it’s not uncommon for emotionally unavailable people to be insecure and have low self-esteem.

Your ex might not feel too good about themselves, but when you came into their life, you made them feel better.

While it’s nice that you made them feel good, it’s not so good if it’s one-sided. They should make you feel good in some way as well.

8) You have mutual friends

Were you friends before you got together? If so, you likely have some mutual friends.

You may have even hung out with the same group of friends, so you can imagine how awkward things might have been when you broke up.

If you’re not friends, then it may be trickier for your ex to hang out with those friends and vice versa.

Therefore, your ex may think it’s easier to be friends so you can both avoid the hassle.

The same thing could also apply to your family if your ex is close to your family or you’re close to his.

9) They still have feelings for you

Your ex could still have feelings for you. 

They want to be with you but are too scared to tell you how they feel. Instead of taking that leap of faith, they’re settling for a friendship with you.

Since your ex is emotionally unavailable, it may be near impossible to tell how they feel about you unless you ask them directly.

If you think your ex still has feelings for you, it would be good to speak with them about it to avoid feelings getting hurt on either side.

10) You help them out

You know all the good stuff that comes with being in a relationship?

Knowing you can depend on your partner when you need something? And when they need something, you’re game to help them if you can because they’re your partner.

You could give really good advice and emotional support, or you’ve helped them out of a financial pickle more than once.

 Or you’ve helped them whenever they’ve needed something practical, like helping out around the house.

Perhaps you help them in ways they still hope to benefit from by being friends with you.

Can you be friends with an emotionally unavailable ex?

Now that I’ve gone through some reasons why your ex wants to be friends, you probably have another lingering question on your mind.

Can a friendship with my emotionally unavailable ex even work?

Well, to answer your question, it depends.

Do you still have feelings for your ex? And do you hope to get back together with them?

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, I won’t lie to you. Being friends would be difficult to pull off.

For one, they might not feel the same way about you.

Two. If they did feel the same way, you need to address issues within your relationship. There’s a reason you broke up in the first place.

If you still have feelings for them but hope to be friends, think about how you would feel if they started seeing someone else.

You’d be waiting for something to happen between your ex when it’s best to move on and find someone better suited to you.

If you like your ex and they don’t feel the same way, cutting them out of your life may be easier. It’s harsh, but you need to give your heart time to heal.

When you’re over them, then consider the possibility of a friendship. Until then, focus on you.

What if I don’t have feelings for my ex?

Do neither of you have feelings for one another? And are you able to move on from your past relationship?

If that’s the case, then it’s possible to be friends.

However, being friends takes a certain amount of openness and vulnerability.

Of course, it’s not on the same level as a relationship. Still, it could be hard to have a good and deep friendship with someone emotionally unavailable. And especially one you used to be with.

It does give your ex less pressure to open themselves up, though, so you may find that in time, they can let their guard down and let you in more.

Ultimately, you should go with your gut. Your gut is your friend here.

Does it feel right?

If you can’t help but doubt whether or not you should be friends, then your gut may already know what the right decision is for you.

How to handle a friendship with an emotionally unavailable ex

If you decide to make a go of being friends with your ex, chat with them beforehand.

It’s important to lay out how you both feel so they’re no misunderstandings of your feelings for one another.

Set boundaries. Be clear on what’s acceptable in your friendship.

For instance, kissing and cuddling may blur the line in your friendship, as you may question whether your ex has feelings for you.

When you establish boundaries, you can be sure you’re both on the same page.

As long as you keep an open line of communication, it’s possible to have a healthy and happy friendship with your ex.

Final thoughts

When your emotionally unavailable ex wants to be friends, you may have many questions running through your head, like why they want to be friends.

It can leave you feeling confused, especially if your relationship was already so difficult to navigate.

Being with someone emotionally unavailable is hard because they won’t open up to you, so you might not even know how they truly feel.

There’re many reasons why your ex might want to be friends, some good and others not so much.

Whether you can actually be friends is a whole other story.

If you’re both over each other, it’s possible to be friends. But make sure you set those boundaries so that you can have a healthy and platonic friendship moving forward.

Can a relationship coach help you too?

If you want specific advice on your situation, it can be very helpful to speak to a relationship coach.

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