Oh I want to say yes! I want to believe that ex-es and potentials can remain friends for ever. One big happy family of people who have had major, minor or catastrophic emotional encounters.
But in reality? I would suggest that usually the answer is no. Sure most of us don't want to have ongoing tension, and that includes a bitter parting of ways with someone we may have held great promise with. We don't really want to believe that another person can think so badly of us that they don't want to even be our friend!
My question is this...why would you? Seriously. Why would you want to remain friends (as opposed to friendly - a whole different thing). When you've invested time and emotional energy into a relationship that's not heading in the direction you want it to - or when you actually don't want to invest any more time or energy into something - why would you?
Maybe because it makes you feel better that you have finished on good terms'? Because there is so much good stuff that it would be a shame to let all that go, just because the relationship couldn't continue -what ever the reason? Because you secretly pride yourself on being able to keep positive relationships going with people no matter what history you may share?
There's reasons relationships don't work out. It's because one, or the other, or both people don't want it to. Maybe there's bigger issues that are unresolved. Maybe you don't actually like , or love each other enough to want to make it work. Maybe just one person doesn't.
Sure, be friendly. Especially if you are going to have to cross paths regularly. Maybe shared kids, or a common interest that, for the meantime anyway, means you have to see each other. but seriously, you either want to be around that person or you don't.
Can exes be friends? Should they? I want to say yes, I want to believe it's possible. But in reality? I don't think so.