Is it healthy to be friends with your ex? This question weighs on the minds of most people after a breakup. When you’re in a relationship, your partner undoubtedly becomes a central figure in your life. You share every little detail with them, you look for ways to spend as much time together as possible and, over time, you get to know them like the back of your hand. That is the beauty of being in a committed, serious relationship with someone.
Then, one day the relationship hits a rough patch and a breakup follows. Suddenly, this person who was a constant in your every day, becomes a thing of the past. Snapping all ties and moving on can be hard, especially if you were in a long, committed relationship with them. It is only natural to feel a compelling urge to reach out to them, talk to them, like you used to because it almost feels like second nature to you.
In modern relationships nowadays, being friends with an ex is considered the cool thing to do. Many people can maintain a decent friendship with their exes, or at least some of them try very hard to. However, not all of these friendships are genuine or last very long. Research shows that exes turn out to be less concerned, less honest, less caring and less compassionate beings as friends. So is it really the best thing to do? Being friends with an ex you still love (or not)?
Why Is It Hard to be Friends With Your Ex?
When a relationship ends, all the feelings you’ve had for the person and vice-versa do not automatically go out the window. After all, there is no switch off button for emotions! A constant sense of longing and missing your partner can make being friends seem like a good idea at first, but you’re only setting yourself up for a really messy situation.
You figure that if you continue to be friends, then at least that way you’d still be in each other’s life. This is the common refrain. Besides, it is considered the evolved, mature thing to do. Even if the breakup was amicable and mutual, rushing to suddenly become besties with your ex can be emotionally wrecking for you as well as the other person. That’s why, the solid advice to take is not to be friends with your ex.
This is especially true if one of you was still invested in the relationship and felt blindsided by the other’s decision to call it quits. If that’s the scenario, then you should hold off on being friends for a long time. Here’s why is it hard to be friends with your ex, especially soon after the breakup:
- You haven’t forgiven them yet: The wounds are still fresh and being around them brings back all the hurt you experienced in the relationship
- One of you is still in love: Either one of you is still in love and sees the friendship as a window of opportunity to get back together again or try to win them over. Being friends with an ex you still love is always a bad idea
- You continue to give them power over you: Even the thought of your ex moving on sends you into a tailspin
- It is harder to move on: The friendship holds you back from moving on
- There’s no such thing as ‘just friends’ between you two: The lines are often blurred and crossed, leading to hot, passionate sex, or late night calls or randomly saying “I love you” that you will both regret later
- It’s better to walk away: The friendship means having your foot in the door and being stuck in a space where you can neither get back together nor completely get over them
Why Does Your Ex Want to Be Friends?
If the idea of being friends after a breakup comes from your ex, and they’re rather insistent on it, it is important to reflect on why would an ex want to be friends with you? Here are some probable reasons to help put things in perspective:
- They are not ready to let you go: During the course of the relationship, your ex might have felt a rare connection with you. It is possible that they do not want to let go of the bond that you both shared
- They are still on the fence about the breakup: Your ex may be unsure about the decision to break up and they want to keep you around until they gain some clarity on the matter
- They love you: If you were the one to initiate the breakup, the insistence on friendship could be a sign that they still have feelings for you and are unable to get over you. The friendship could just be their way of grasping at straws.
Related Reading: 15 clever ways to turn down an ex who wants to be friends
15 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Friends With Your Ex
Exes can’t be friends; yup, that’s the golden rule. You and your ex may have shared a special bond in the past and the memories of it may last you a lifetime. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But just because it was good while it lasted doesn’t mean you should resist letting go of something that has run its course. Of course, the ‘breakup and move on quickly’ idea is easier said than done, but you know it’s the only right thing to do.
A song on the radio, the smell of the rain, a particular flavor of coffee, a dress in your wardrobe, the way your hair falls on your neck — little things that remind you of them are triggers that are going to be all around you. Sometimes these memories come with pangs of longing and desire that make you forget the bad things about the relationship and romanticize the good instead. In these moments, it is only natural to miss them and at that point, the ‘I cant be friends with my ex’ thought doesn’t even cross your mind.
Relationship therapists suggest that when two people break up, it is essential that they take time to heal and move on instead of still entertaining one another. In her book Getting Past Your Breakup, author Susan J Elliot recommends waiting at least six months before taking a call on whether or not to be friends with your ex.
Still, want to know why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex? Well then, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 15 good reasons why being friends with an ex does not work out:
1. You need time and space to process the breakup
A breakup can be an overwhelming experience, especially if your ex is the one who took the call to part ways. In that frame of mind, talking to your ex or meeting them is the last thing you need. You need to focus on healing right now. So take a breather and allow yourself the time and space needed to process the breakup well.
2. It can rekindle physical intimacy you might regret
Being friends with an ex you still love is a sure shot road to you waking up in their bed one morning. Riley, a dance coach based in St. Louis was going through a difficult break-up with her high school sweetheart while also dealing with the trauma of a terminally ill mother at home. She felt like she needed an anchor, and her ex, who had always been extremely kind and caring, seemed like just the person for it.
What started as platonic friendship soon turned into a hot mess. They started sleeping together every opportunity they got, which led the ex into believing that she was open to getting back together and also made Riley further confused about her feelings.
They tried to give the relationship another chance, only to go through the pain and agony of breaking up all over again. Only this time, it was more bitter and painful.
Related Reading: Hope You Are Not Doing These 10 Funny Things After A Breakup…
3. Your current or future relationship may suffer
Wondering why exes ruin relationships? The answer is simple here. By remaining friends with your ex, you may subconsciously be treating them as a backup should things go south in your current or future relationships. This may prevent you from being fully invested in new relationships and hamper its future. This is totally unfair to your ex as well as your current or future partner.
And with an ex to fall back on in your life, you are also more inclined to try rebound relationships without taking them too seriously. You think your ex is still the person for you which is why you go on a spree, breaking other people’s hearts and also your own in the process.
4. Feelings of jealousy may ruin your friendship in the long run
Once the dust settles on your past relationship, one of you will try to move on and start dating again. If you get into a relationship, your ex may not be comfortable with the turn of events and might lash out at you about it too. On the other hand, if your ex is the first to move on, you may be left feeling abandoned and hurt. It’s only natural.
This causes jealousy to seep in, which may not only be detrimental to your friendship with your ex, but also your new relationship, making things very, very difficult for everyone. That is why it is best, not to be friends with your ex.
5. Don’t be friends with your ex as you can’t be honest with them
Friendships are built on the premise of honesty. Friends share intimate details of their life, down to one’s deepest thoughts and darkest fears. Given that the past relationship and the hurt caused by the breakup will take up substantial mind space for you both, such honest conversations are out of the question for you two now. They are only a point of pain.
Imagine if you’re going through one of those cyclic breakup blues in your life. Your ex, who is now a friend, asks what’s bothering you, you cannot possibly be honest with him without ruffling a few feathers. Or if you’ve got a date, you cannot be upfront with your ex about that either. This will just create moments of awkwardness that you’d both want to avoid, leaving you with a friendship that is neither earnest nor honest.
Related Reading: How Do I Cope With My Husband’s Deep Friendship With His Ex-wife?
6. The friendship may lead to false hopes if you try to be friends with an ex you still love
Even if you just consider your ex a friend now, there is a possibility that they may look at things differently. Or vice-versa. What if one of you still has their hopes pinned on the possibility that the friendship will eventually lead to rekindling the old spark between you?
As a result, one of you may put their life on hold, clinging on to this false hope. When things don’t play out the way you or the other person had expected, it can cause deep hurt and resentment. This is one of the key reasons why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex.
7. Such a friendship will affect your mental peace
If one of you is still harboring a lot of lingering feelings for the other — as is the case in most breakups — the friendship can become a messy affair that can cost you your peace of mind. Their presence in your life, even as a friend, will be a constant reminder of the relationship and memories of your time together, keeping you caged in the past.
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8. Exes can’t be friends due to a a lack of honesty and trust
Even if an ex becomes your 4-am-friend or the one you turn to for help and comfort whenever things go haywire, the basic premise of trust and honesty will be missing in such a relationship. You two have been through enough already and probably even have trust issues with one another. Without resolving those, being friends is just an impossible task.
Because the hurt and sorrow brought on by the breakup would only nag you deep down inside even if you don’t want to acknowledge and embrace these emotions.
9. You’ll make thing awkward for your mutual friends
These friends have seen you together as a couple and seen your relationship go through its up and downs before it came crashing to the ground. If there is an underlying resentment between you two, despite the friendship, it can come out in veiled passive-aggressive attacks on one another, and that can get awkward for your mutual friends to deal with. Nobody deserves that.
Related Reading: Post Break-Up Feelings: I Think Of My Ex But I Love My Husband More
10. Bleak possibility of finding your true love
Not to be friends with your ex is a smart thing to do. And here’s why. The friendship with your ex may cloud your judgment about other potential partners, and you may find yourself caught in a vicious circle of going on dates, but never making headway in a new relationship. That’s because your ex’s presence in your life will interfere with your ability to move on in true earnest.
Do you really want to put yourself through that? Give yourself a second shot at love and life, and see what it can do. Don’t hold on to the past.
If you’re texting them while on a date or coming back and discussing every detail of the date with them to seek their approval, you’re stuck in an unhealthy place you need to break free from.
11. The friendship will not reduce the pain of the breakup
A lot of times people go from being romantic partners to friends because they’re unable to cope with the sense of loss. However, if you’re becoming friends with an ex just to blunt the pain of heartbreak, you’re doing it all wrong.
Breakups are never easy. You have to go through the grind of that heart-wrenching, stabbing pain that keeps you up at night and makes you cry your eyes out. You have to brace yourself for a hurricane of overwhelming emotions that you must survive on your own. If you need a shoulder to cry on, turn to your existing friends instead of adding your ex to the list.
12. Exes can’t be friends because your current partner should be your top priority
It is rare to find someone who’d be comfortable with the idea of their partner being friends with an ex. Put yourself in their shoes and think about it a bit — would you want your partner’s ex at every birthday celebration and house party? Would you be okay with them texting their ex while sitting next to you? Or discussing the details of your relationship with them?
If your friendship with an ex makes your current partner uncomfortable and anxious, you must respect their perspective on the issue and let go of the friendship.
After all, there is no sense in sabotaging a new relationship for one that withered away long ago.
Related Reading: The 5 Stages Of A Rebound Relationship
13. One of you will end up hurt for sure
A friendship between exes exposes either one or both of you to a pain and hurt much worse than what the breakup brought on. This is especially true if there are unresolved feelings at play and both of you have gone long enough without getting into a new relationship. Save yourself and your ex the agony by not forging such a friendship, to begin with.
14. A friendship that defies logic
Do you need new friends? Why not try to strengthen existing bonds by spending time with your college friends or hanging out with your office colleagues? Starting a friendship with a person you just ended a relationship with just defies logic in all kinds of ways.
15. Don’t be friends with your ex — you both parted ways for some reason
Whether you both broke up due to conflicting values and beliefs or trust issues, the fact of the matter is that the relationship didn’t last and that is testament to your lack of compatibility and underlying problems. As such, being friends with a person you have unresolved issues with is unhealthy and can quickly turn toxic.
So, is it healthy to keep in touch with an ex? The answer is a categorical ‘No’. You need to snap the cord once and for all to be able to heal, recover from the set back of a breakup and move on in true earnest. It can take a while to get used to them not being around, but you’ll see that it was the best thing to do. Don’t be friends with an ex on Facebook, block their stories on Instagram and formally exit their life. It’s high time.
‘Ruin’ is a big word to use, but an ex being in your life can definitely make your current relationship messy. Your present partner might not approve of your friendship and your ex might start acting like a jealous boyfriend too.
It can, yes. But that’s not always a good thing. You two broke up for a reason, so don’t let your lack of self-control blind you and allow you to walk back into a relationship that was never good for you.