Oftentimes, when a romantic relationship fizzles out and when a guy just wants to be friends after dating are virtually identical moments.
In the moment, it can sound like a lot of lip service . While the phrase “let’s be friends,” may sound like an empty promise, it might not be. Let’s take a look at some genuine signs he just wants to be friends and how to make it work if you still want this person in your life.
How to make it work when a guy just wants to be friends after dating
Believe it or not, it is possible to re-develop a friendship after the romance line has been crossed. According to Dr. Tina B. Tessina, a licensed psychotherapist in California, “If the both of you are in agreement that you were better as friends, re-developing the friendship is easier.” The idea is to follow some best practices to help ensure that you’ll neither fall back into a romantic relationship nor ruin the relationship altogether.
You may successfully be friends if:
You approach it like a new relationship
Dr. Tessina suggested starting from the beginning and not necessarily where you left off in your romantic relationship. “That way, you can figure out the difference between being lovers and being friends,” she said.
You both go very slowly
The truth is, being friends with someone you’ve dated briefly or a long time will take longer than you think. It’s crucial both of you communicate clearly and truthfully. That way, you have a chance to build a strong foundation.
You’re both conscious about being friends
Both of you need to be able to talk about what has changed or what you’d do differently moving forward. That even includes qualities you like in each other as friends.
Both of you want the friendship
It’s crucial that all unresolved feelings or issues are aired out so that it’s clear both of you want a platonic relationship.
However, you probably shouldn’t try being friends if:
It was an unhealthy relationship to begin with
Maybe your ex was the jealous type or made a habit of being dishonest. It could even be the case where they were abusive or harbored other types of unhealthy behaviors.
“If both of you are emotionally healthy individuals, then it can work. Otherwise, walk away,” said Amber Artis, the CEO of Select Date Society.
You don’t feel he can be open with you
Being friends after a romantic relationship requires a lot of trust and communication. If the guy isn’t willing to be open and honest with you, then it might be time to end things for good.
You’re unsure of your own motives
It’s crucial you reflect on your motives for being friends with your ex. Otherwise, you may feel hurt when you see them dating another person.
Does he really just want to be friends: How to tell
It’s likely that when a guy says “let’s be friends” he really wants to be, instead of something to say so he doesn’t feel like the bad guy. Some men have thought long and hard about why they want to keep the relationship, and it could be that he enjoys your company but not in a romantic way.
Since the suggestion to move from a romantic relationship to a platonic one usually comes after a breakup, it’s unlikely he’s only using friendship as a guise to remain intimate with you. However, his behavior will reveal his true intentions.
Signs he just wants to be friends
It’s always a good idea to trust your intuition when it comes to relationships. To help you decide, here are a few signs he just wants to be friends.
He seems happy you’re dating other people
Friends don’t get jealous or want to cut down the person their friend is dating. So take it as a good thing if he seems happy you’re moving on.
He doesn’t pry into your personal life
Just because you’re friends, it doesn’t mean he needs to know every detail of your life. If he asks questions but they’re not ones that require you to bare your soul, chances are he just wants to be friends.
He doesn’t insist on a reply to his text right away
If he texts you and it takes you a little while to get back to it, friends aren’t going to be mad or jealous like a boyfriend might be.
He acknowledges compliments but doesn’t necessarily return them
If you pay him a compliment and doesn’t feel he has to say anything in return, it could indicate he doesn’t feel the pressure like he would if he were dating you.
He maintains clear boundaries
Perhaps he suggests times to meet that aren’t late at night, or at places that aren’t centered around alcohol. This could mean he respects you enough to avoid situations that may tempt either of you to cross the line.
He’s dating other people
If he’s starting to see other people, that’s usually a clear indication he’s no longer interested in you romantically.
What it means when he says we are just friends, but acts like more
A guy claiming only platonic interest but clearly behaving otherwise is a sign that he’s using friendship as a way to remain close to you. This is more likely when he was not the one to end the relationship.
Here are some signs he may not be interested in friendship after all, but instead wants to be involved romantically in some way:
He doesn’t seem supportive of your achievements
That’s not to say he’s jealous, per se. Rather, he’s upset he wasn’t the first person you shared the good news with, or that he wasn’t physically there to watch you receive an award, for example.
He somehow bumps into you when you’re on a date
It could be a coincidence if it happens once. However, if you see your ex on more than one occasion—especially if he’s trying to be discreet—chances are he still has feelings for you.
He wants to spend a lot of time alone
Sure, friends can hang out one on one. However, if he only wants to see you this way, it might be that he wants more, especially given the context of the relationship
He teases or compliments you a lot
There’s nothing wrong with compliments or good old fashioned jokes, but if it’s becoming excessive, it could be a red flag.
He texts you late at night and/or early in the morning
While it’s hard to prove, seeing a text from him just before bed or early in the morning could mean you’re on his mind an awful lot.
What to do if an ex wants to be friends after no contact
Sometimes having no contact with an ex for a period of time can be a good thing. Artis suggested that sometimes people need time to process their feelings to determine the best way to move forward.
“It could be the case he needed a little space after a breakup before he was ready to revisit a friendship,” she said.
The important thing is whether you’re in a healthy place emotionally and open to a friendship. The reason for going no-contact should play a role, too—some people cut contact to preserve their emotional wellbeing, but sometimes it’s a necessary step to create space from an abusive or manipulative partner.
If it’s a situation like the former, proceed slowly if you believe you can handle it. If it’s the latter, pursuing a friendship isn’t a good idea.
He slept with me and now wants to be friends
The truth is, there are some people who want to keep their options open, so to speak. So if a guy sleeps with you and wants to be friends, it could be that he’s dating multiple people at once, or likes you but isn’t ready for a committed relationship.
Often, it’s about wanting the availability of physical intimacy without any emotional commitment. It’s up to you whether or not you’re comfortable with such an arrangement.
It’s also possible that your brief physical fling was fun in the moment, but didn’t spark further romantic interest for him. If he begins to express signs of wanting genuine friendship despite a prior hookup, you have to decide for yourself if that’s something you want as well and if you believe him to be genuine.
When a guy just wants to be friends after dating, it could mean many different things. It could really be that he wants to pursue a platonic relationship with you, or wanting a physical relationship but without the commitment.
That’s why it’s crucial you take a close look at your own feelings and whether you want to be friends in addition to looking at the signs the friendship is going to work. “The more emotionally mature you both are," Artis said, “the easier it’ll be to establish a friendship.”