Should I Be Friends With My Ex? 7 Things You Shouldn’t Do If You Want To Stay In Touch
When you go through a breakup that feels pretty civil, you might be tempted to stay friends with your ex. Although it sounds great in theory, remaining close with your former partner can actually be a tricky situation. To make sure no one gets hurt, there are a number of things you should never do if you want to be friends with your ex. It may sound nice to keep in contact with an important person in your life, but if you're not careful, you could get yourself into a complicated situation — whether it's preventing one of you from moving on or interfering with a new relationships.
Pursuing a friendship with an ex can be difficult for a variety of reasons. "Often one person still has feelings for the other or hasn’t moved on," couples and family therapist Tracy K. Ross, LCSW tells Bustle. "Maybe the breakup wasn’t their choice, or even though they agree it had to happen, they haven’t found someone new or still miss things about the old partner. New partners are often uncomfortable with these friendships, and some wonder if it’s ever really possible to be friends with someone you were once romantically involved with."
It's important to consider why you want to pursue this friendship and be honest with yourself if you feel like you want something more. But if you do decide to give it a go, avoid these seven mistakes if you still want to be friends with your ex.
1. Not Give Each Other Space
Rather than jump into a full-blown friendship right away, it's good to give each other space. It's not easy speaking with someone everyday, then having to cut them out completely, psychotherapist Kelly Bos, MSW, RSW tells Bustle. "However, it is important to take some time to regroup and grow. Couples often fear taking time apart for fear of losing the friendship as well. But fear doesn’t give good advice, and often things can get complicated when the time for healing isn’t taken."
2. Try To Get Back Together
A friendship will never work if you keep getting back together and breaking up. "Breaking up over and over again and trying to make it work when it shouldn’t can be exhausting and make you resent your [former] partner," says Bos. "If you want the friendship to work, end it when you know you should."
3. Have Sex Occasionally
If you're going to be friends with your ex, you should never blur the lines between friendship and romance, which means you can’t slip and have sex occasionally. "The argument ‘What’s the harm, it’s like an old shoe and we both know it’s over’ doesn’t hold up," says Ross. "Sex leads to feelings of attachment, and often the meaning of these encounters is different for each person."
4. Focus On The Past
A successful friendship requires that you both move on from the past. "When a relationship ends, one can struggle with letting go of what was and what could have been," says Bos. "To have a healthy friendship, it is important to stay in the present and not let the past and future fears misguide us with memories ... or fears of missing out."
5. Share As Many Intimate Details With Them
Once you switch from partner to friend, the parameters of the relationship need to change. "When you do see each other, don’t behave the same way you did when you were a couple," says Ross. "Don’t confide in them the same way you once did or share intimate details that would make a current partner uncomfortable. It’s all about boundaries, and the transition from romance to friendship means the boundaries have to shift in very clear ways."
6. Share Details About Them With Others
Just as you wouldn't go around talking about your friends, don’t share intimate details about your relationship with your ex to others. "Don't bad mouth your ex, divulge confidences, share the down and dirty details of your relationship— especially your sex life — share your ex’s insecurities, or [gossip about] what went wrong in the relationship," says Ross. "That’s not what friends do with each other’s confidences and private information."
7. Bring Them As A Date To Events
It's tempting to turn to your ex for company when it comes to attending work parties or weddings, but keep things simple and opt for someone else. "If you’re not in a new relationship and you need a date for an event, don’t ask them," says Ross. "It’s confusing and misleading."
Everyone has a different relationship with their ex, but if you want to attempt a successful friendship, try to avoid these habits.