Every breakup is different. Eventually, you’ll wonder if you should be friends with an ex. Understanding the good and bad of being friends with an ex will help guide you to know if it’s a good decision for you or not.
Whether or not you remain friends with an ex and how you interact with them can say more about who you are than you may think.
The good and bad of being friends with an ex
After a breakup, it can be awkward or even painful to run into an ex, not to mention how it could potentially feel to see them on a daily basis.
The residual feelings from the breakup can still be present and can prevent you both from moving on.
Whether you ended on good terms or not, preserving or reigniting a friendship too soon after a breakup is likely to cause even more problems. Take some time off from each other. Then you can try to be friends. Really feeling the effects of the breakup will give you a chance to mourn and readjust.
It doesn’t have to be hard to be friends with an ex as long as you take the time away from the relationship that you need before jumping into a friendship. [Read: 12 reasons why the no contact rule always works]
The benefits of being friends with an ex
Being friends with someone that you’ve shared so much with can be beneficial to you both. Once enough time has passed, rekindling a friendship with an ex can be a positive decision.
Not only can it help you to work on forgiveness and letting go of the past, but having someone in your life that knows you so well may give you insight into yourself that can be valuable in future relationships.
Being friends with an ex shows your maturity, strength of character, and ability to heal. Whether the relationship was long term or not, having that person in your life can bring a lot of joy.
Maybe you bonded over a love for comic books or Harry Potter. You can still geek out together without the romantic stuff. Or they are great at pepping you up for a presentation at work or perking you up at a bad time.
Perhaps you just make each other laugh like no one else. Losing that just because you didn’t work out romantically doesn’t quite make sense, does it?
It can be wonderful to hold onto the good things about each other even though the romantic parts didn’t work out. [Read: How to be friends with your ex without any complications]
The problems of being friends with an ex
With that said, don’t force a friendship with an ex simply for shallow or selfish reasons. A friendship of any kind is only worthwhile if both people put in the effort beyond selfish reasons.
If you’re staying friends with an ex to check up on them or because you’re hoping things will work out in the future, there’s a good chance that that friendship won’t be a quality one. Ulterior motives will poison the friendship before it even gets off the ground. [Read: 14 things to keep in mind when you bump into your ex]
When tools such as convenience, loneliness, or guilt are the foundation of the friendship, it is bound to crumble. If you feel bad that you broke up with them, staying friends due to guilt will only lead to more unhappiness for you and false hope for them.
The same goes for staying friends with the hope of getting back together. Staying friends with a recent ex thinking it will bring you back together as it did with Ross and Rachel in Friends is not realistic or healthy. It will make your friendship one filled with dishonesty.
Even if your reason for being friends with an ex is to make things easier on your shared friend group, if it isn’t right for you two, don’t do it. Take time apart. Split up time with your friends at first. Eventually, once you have both moved on, you should be able to share group time without too much awkwardness.
One thing that could make even a healthy friendship with an ex go south is a new boyfriend or girlfriend. They may not feel comfortable with it. And that makes sense to a point.
Being friends with an ex is just like any other friendship. It will not bring you happiness or contentment if it is based on anything other than truly and platonically caring for each other. [Read: Is being friends with an ex who still loves you a good idea?]
Is being friends with an ex good for you?
The decision to remain friends with an ex can be complicated. Unless both you and your ex believe it is the right decision, it’s understandable that remaining friends may not be an option for you. Sometimes it just depends on the relationship.
You could be close to your high school ex. You could be polite and cordial with your college ex. But your most recent ex may be someone you never speak to again. And that is fine. Being friends with an ex has its good and bad. Remember, it is specific to your situation. In that case, working on forgiveness is still a smart move.
If you’re not friends because of bitterness or grudge-holding, rid yourself of those feelings. Whether you’re colleagues, run in the same crowd, or bump into each other on the street, you maintain class and strength by being cordial. Don’t allow those negative feelings from the past to poison your future relationships. [Read: 15 questions that’ll help you decide if you should speak with your ex again]
Being friends or simply friendly with an ex shows strength of character. So, if maintaining a friendship with an ex is something you’ve never considered, start with forgiveness. Then take it from there.
Even if you don’t interact regularly, focusing on releasing any negative feelings will be healthy for you moving forward. You don’t have to like your ex, be friends, or even acquaintances, but being able to think of them without pure rage will ultimately be better for you.
Sharing a friendship with a person that knows so much about you could turn out to be one of the most rewarding friendships you’ve ever had.
But, if you’ve regularly stayed in touch with your exes and find it is preventing you from moving on or being happy, consider your motives and theirs for keeping in touch. It has to be a healthy choice for both of you if a friendship is going to work out.
[Read: The questions you should ask yourself if your ex wants to be friends]
Even after learning the good and bad of being friends with an ex, you must make the right choice for both of you. And of course, for your future too!
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