Is it healthy to be friends with your ex – the 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, 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.
Then, the relationship hits a rough patch and 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. It is only natural to feel a compelling urge to reach out to them, talk to them, like you used to.
In modern relationships, being friends with an ex is considered the lit, cool thing to do. Many people can maintain a friendship with their exes. However, not all of these friendships are genuine. Research shows that exes turn out to be less concerned, less honest, less caring and less compassionate beings as friends.
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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 of 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 least, that way you’d still be able to be in each other’s life is the common refrain. Besides, it is considered the evolved, mature thing to do. Even if the breakup was amicable and mutual, rushing to get in the friend-zone with your ex can be emotionally wrecking for you as well as the other person.
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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. Here’s why is it hard to be friends with your ex, especially soon after the breakup:
- The wounds are still fresh and being around them brings back all the hurt you experienced in the relationship.
- Either one of you is still in love and sees the friendship as a window of opportunity to get back together.
- Even the thought of your ex moving on sends you into a tailspin.
- The friendship holds you back from moving on.
- The lines are often blurred and crossed, leading to hot, passionate sex that you both regret later.
- 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.
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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? Here are some probable reasons to put things in perspective:
- 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 off the bond that you both shared.
- 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.
- 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.
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15 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be Friends With Your Ex
You and your ex surely shared a special bond in the past, and the memories of it may last you a lifetime. 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‘ idea is easier said than done.
A song on the radio, the smell of the rain, a particular flavour of coffee, a dress in your wardrobe, the way your hair falls on your neck – little things that remind you of them are all around. Sometimes these memories come with pangs of longing and desire that make you forget the bad about the relationship and romanticise the good. In these moments, it is only natural of wonder – why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex?
Relationship therapists suggest that when two people break up, it is essential that they take time to heal and move on. 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.
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Still, want to know why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex? 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 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.
2. It can rekindle physical intimacy you might regret
Ridhi (name changed), was going through a difficult break-up with her high school sweetheart and also dealing with the trauma of a terminally ill mother at home. She felt she needed an anchor, and her ex, who had always been extremely kind and caring seemed just the person for it.
What started as platonic friendship soon turned into a hot mess quite literally. They were sleeping around at every opportunity they got, which led the ex into believing that she was open to getting back together and Ridhi 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.
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3. Your current or future relationship may suffer
Wondering why exes ruin relationships? The answer is simple – by remaining friends with your ex, you may be subconsciously 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 the future. This is unfair to your ex as well as your current or future partner.
4. 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 turn of events. If your ex is the first to move on, you may be left feeling abandoned and hurt. It’s natural human instinct. This causes jealousy to seep in, which may not only be detrimental to your friendship with your ex but also the new relationship.
5. You can’t be honest with them
Friendships are built on the premise of honesty. Friends share intimate details of their life, down to 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.
Imagine if you’re going through one of those cyclic breakup blues. 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.
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6. The friendship may lead to false hopes
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 lead to rekindling the old spark between you eventually?
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 harbouring lingering feelings for the other – as is the case in most breakups – the friendship can become a messy affair that can cost 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. 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. Because the hurt and sorrow brought on by the breakup would 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 on 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.
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10. Bleak possibility of finding your true love
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 you’re ex’s presence in your life will interfere with your ability to move on in true earnest.
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. 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 – 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 discuss 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.
13. One of you will end up hurt
A friendship between exes exposing either one or both of you to pain and hurt much worse than what the breakup brought on. This is especially true if there are unresolved feelings at play and you both 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.
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14. A friendship that defies logic
Do you need new friends? Why not try to revive the bond with your college friends or hand out with your office colleagues? Starting a friendship with a person you just ended a relationship with just defies logic.
15. You both parted ways for some reason
Whether you both broke up due to conflicting values and beliefs or trust issues, the fact is that the relationship didn’t last 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.