Can Old Flames be Friends?

When lovers part in the stormiest of scenarios, sparks continue to fly when they meet again

old flames talking like friends

One often reads in the papers about celebrities who have been lovers and then become friends once their relationship breaks up. While one can say that this is really mature behavior on their part, such proclamations have always been taken with a pinch of the proverbial salt.

Love is a strong passion, and when one breaks a relationship it is sure to traumatize and affect the parties concerned. It is only through a period of great healing that one comes to terms with such an event. Then, if one can extend a hand of friendship, and be comfortable with an ex-lover, with no undercurrents of past hatred, longings, or memories to affect the friendship, one should go ahead. Otherwise, it may be wiser to just make a clean break and move on with one’s life, and not connect again with an old flame. Here’s why –

Why You Should Stay Away From Your Old Flame

Leaves you lonelier

You may have been feeling lonely or your marriage may not be quite what you envisaged. In such a situation, connecting with an old flame would appear to be the answer to all the problems relating to your present situation. You may restart a relationship with your old flame just to get out of the pressures of a current prospect. This would not help you in the long run. It can also lead to greater complications, leaving you more confused and traumatized than before.

Creates unnecessary excitement

Reconnecting with an old flame may create excitement in your life and make you lose your perspective. This can allow you to forget what caused your break-up in the first place.

Attached to the past

You may be unwilling to move away from an earlier relationship, but want to continue it under the guise of friendship. By clinging to the past, you will only be hurting yourself.

Don’t idolize your old relationship

You may dream of all the good times you had with your old flame, and forget about the bad times. This may make you restart the old relationship, forgetting about your present relationship or spouse.

Undercurrents of passion

The feelings you once held for your old lover may still be present, and despite your wish to maintain a platonic friendship, you may be unable to do so.


You may fantasize about your old flame, and be unable to sustain a platonic relationship if you reconnect again.

It may start a fire

You may still have a smouldering passion for this person, and reconnecting may make you forget your present mate and jump headlong into a roaring affair with the old flame again. This would be unfair to your present relationship.

Painful memories

There may be painful memories which need to be dealt with firmly. It would be best to distance yourself from the cause of the anguish to start afresh. In such a scenario, trying to maintain a friendship with an old flame would be disastrous for you.

There may be several reasons due to which a relationship breaks up. Once broken, there is bitterness, or at least a great sense of grief and loss. Distancing yourself from your ex-flame is one way to deal with this.

Related » Walk out on your past! Learn to let go, move on and release regrets

Twist the Tale

What if you are now involved in a new, more stable relationship? In such a scenario, meeting an old flame may not seem to be such a great event. Also, it will definitely bring back memories, and depending on the depth or seriousness of the relationship, create a flutter of sorts. It would be difficult to say that everything is over in a relationship. Hence, even if you feel that you can sustain a friendship with an old flame, it may be best to limit the degree of socializing or involvement because this may intrude upon or destroy your present relationship, howsoever understanding your new lover or spouse may be. Also, if you find that you are meeting this old flame on the sly, then it is definitely not friendship that you should cultivate again.

There is another twist to the tale, if there is. If both the parties are single and fancy free, then there is a possibility of renewing old ties and maintaining a friendship. If this develops once again into a passionate relationship, there is no one who suffers in the process.

On the whole, an old flame is just an “old flame” — a relationship that has outlived its worth and is best left alone.

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Abha Iyengar
 Abha Iyengar is an internationally published author, poet, editor and British Council certified creative writing facilitator. Her story, The High Stool, was nominated for the Story South Million Writers Award. She won the Lavanya Sankaran fellowship in 2009-2010. She was a finalist in the FlashMob 2013 Flash Fiction contest. Her published works are Yearnings, Shrayan, Flash Bites, Many Fish to Fry and The Gourd Seller and Other Stories.


  1. I have an old flame from almost 60 years ago. He’s married. I’m not. Once we started talking the emotions resurfaced. I am having a difficult time of letting go and wonder if you have any advice .
    Thank you.

    • Don’t mess with married men. If he cheats on her? He’ll cheat on you. Plus why wouldn’t you want to be the mistress?


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