You sigh, ready to turn away without another word, until you hear, “Can we still be friends?” It’s the looming question that succeeds most breakups. But I’ve always wondered, is it possible to remain friends with your ex, and if it’s possible, is it healthy?
YES: Your ex is in your romantic past for a reason.
You and your ex are probably safe to remain friends as long as he or she doesn’t pose as a threat to your new relationship. Your ex is in your past for a reason, and your new partner shouldn’t have all the same qualities that drove you insane in your previous relationship. Overall, your new boyfriend of girlfriend should be a better fit for you. If your ex and new partner are so similar that you’re questioning who you love more, then you didn’t really upgrade with your new version now, did you?
YES: Once upon time, you two were friends.
“I think it’s okay to be friends with you ex, but only if your feelings for that ex are completely gone and both have an understanding that you’re strictly friends,” said Kayla Bee, a junior at the University of Missouri. You can manage just being friends with your ex, right? If you were in an exclusive relationship, the fact of the matter is that at one point, your partner was someone you were very open and honest with â€• someone you went to first when you needed to talk. You should still be able to look to that friend when you need support, but probably not as the first shoulder you lean on.
MAYBE: Time and degree of seriousness may be factors.
For some people, maintaining a healthy relationship post-break up is simple as long as the new partner feels comfortable with the idea. I have a rather distant-but-healthy relationship with an ex, namely because I introduced him to the love of his life. He and I were not together long-term or seriously. If those are the terms in which you leave your relationship, transitioning from partners to pals can be seamless.
NO: It creates awkward tension between the old and new.
“You shouldn’t be friends with your ex because it makes your next partner feel insecure and that creates problems,” said Marcus Jackson, also a junior at the University of Missouri. Knowing that your partner is friends with their ex, may make you feel as if you don’t live up to your partner’s standards. It can be a constant battle with comparing yourself to your partner’s ex-lover, but not to worry â€• you’ve won the war.
NO: Things didn’t work out, move on.
Therapist Sherman Mac, who specializes in family preservation, recommends leaving your ex with your past. “There are already too many issues from the past that can sneak up in your future with your new partner. Don’t let your ex be one of those things,” he urged. You can’t really move on to a new book without wrapping up the previous one.”
There’s no cut and dry answer to friendship after a break up. It’s a decision that you, your ex and maybe even your new significant other will need to agree upon. If you do decide to stay friends, and can pull it off without awkwardness or hurt feelings, perhaps that person was meant to be in your life for that reason.
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