I once knew a woman who remained such good friends with her exes that all 20 former flames showed up to her birthday party. I’m all for positive energy, but that was just plain weird. Breakups require time apart to break the couple bond created during the relationship. So, when someone, like the egocentric woman I encountered, turns all her exes into so-called friends, it’s an attempt to remain intimate — if not physically then mentally.
I’m not the jealous type, but I’m smart enough to understand that remaining friends with your exes not only causes friction with new relationships, but also prevents you from fully realizing your relationship mistakes. Don’t believe me? Here are more reasons why you can’t be friends with your ex.
1. You need time to grieve the breakup
After a breakup, you need time to grieve the relationship and heal. The only way to do that is to distance yourself from your ex. I once dated someone for a short time, who then went on to date my friend. Strangely, I wasn’t that bothered with their coupling. But, I did find it odd that he wanted to remain friends with me. I was young and naïve, and thought, “What the heck?” The problem was, even though I was never that into him, I was not allowing myself a grieving period after the breakup.
And believe me, without grieving time, the sting of betrayal felt all that much sharper when we all hung out together for the weekend at his family cottage. All weekend long, I had knots in my stomach as I watched my ex and friend cuddle on the couch. So, I hit back the best way I could — by shamelessly flirting with his friends. And boy was I pleased when I saw the twinges of jealousy on his face. This not only caused problems for his new relationship, but also made me feel like a fool afterward. I didn’t want him back, nor did I really want to be friends. Grieving time would have helped me realize that a lot sooner.
2. You’ll never be real friends with an ex
I get it, breaking up is hard, no matter who ended the relationship. So, it’s natural that you might want to keep your ex in your friendship corner, especially after spending so much time with them. But for most people, remaining friends with an ex is simply a way to keep him or her in your life a little longer. And while that may sound like a good idea at first, do you really think you can be friends in the long run? Probably not.
Let’s look at what friendship entails. Friends love and support you through thick and thin, and are in for the long haul. They don’t judge you or deliberately hurt your feelings. They make you smile and are there to listen — even when it comes to your new relationship highs and lows.
But, when it comes to your ex, don’t expect to share the dirty details of your personal life. Let’s face it: does your ex really want to hear about your big romantic evening? Do you want to hear about his hot new date? More than likely your ex will simply end up being a friendly acquaintance instead of an actual friend. Don’t expect more than that and you won’t be disappointed.
3. You’ve been intimate
Once you’ve been intimate with someone, it’s almost impossible to place them in the friendship category. The two of you formed a bond. So now every time you are together, subconsciously that bond will always be there. More than likely, you’ll always think of your ex as your ex rather than a new-found friend. It’s pretty hard to transition from being lovers to just friends overnight — unless, of course, you’re into the whole “friends with benefits” thing. But that’s a whole other subject.
4. It stops you from moving forward
As the old saying goes: when one door closes, another one opens. But what happens when the door between you and an ex remains open? You can’t move on. Social media has made it a lot easier for people to stay connected even after a breakup. And that means never really closing the door, or worse, creating a revolving door. Either way, you can’t move forward.
5. It will cause friction in your new relationship
Staying friendly with an ex may not be uncommon, but neither is the friction it can cause in your new relationship. Even if your friendship with your ex is on the up and up, your new man or woman may silently feel threatened. And that could place a huge wedge in your new relationship right out of the gate.
6. You or your ex has a hidden agenda
“It’s not you, it’s me,” he says. “I just want to be friends.” You agree, but in the back of your mind you cling to the hope of winning him back. In reality, he doesn’t want to be friends, he’s just easing your pain. Chances are, the only friendship you’ll share will be slim to nothing. If your friendship is a guise to win him back, then let him go. If it’s written in the stars, he’ll find his way back.
7. It can be a painful experience
The truth is, if you’re still clinging to the idea of remaining friends with your ex, the reason may be that you’re secretly hoping you’ll get back together again. The problem with that is, your ex may move on faster than you expected. So, each time you see his or her smiling face pressed against someone else’s on Facebook, you’ll be hurt — over, and over again.
— Katherine Marko