Opinion: Wanting To Stay Friends With Your Ex Is Super Weird

Have you ever gone through a breakup where you and your ex actually managed to stay friends? If so, how on earth did you do it?! While this is a promise that a lot of people make, it’s one that in my opinion is very tricky to keep. I’m not criticizing anyone who goes down this route. If you can manage to maintain a healthy friendship with an ex-partner, good for you! However, I personally find it pretty strange to want to in the first place. I can think of a lot of problems that would stop me from trying to stay friends with my exes…

Do you really want a constant reminder that your relationship failed? 

Every time you hang out with your ex “as friends,” you’re going to look at them and think about your failed relationship. Even if you parted ways fairly amicably, it’s hard to totally erase every single detail about your romantic history from your memory. Sure, you might not harbor feelings for them anymore, but you’ll constantly be reminded that you did once upon a time and that you guys couldn’t make it work. It’s difficult to put the past behind you when you still have to address it in the present.

As much as you try to avoid it, you’ll find yourself keeping tabs on them – especially at the start. 

We’ve all done it: stalked an ex on social media to see what they’re up to or less-than-slyly asked mutual friends how your former partner is getting on. If your ex is still a prominent person in your life, even just as a friend, the temptation to keep tabs on them will be even higher. Are you REALLY going to be able to meet up with them without wondering if they’re dating someone new? Especially if your feelings are still lingering… Conversely, you might find that your ex-turned-friend keeps showing an unnatural interest in your post-breakup antics. Do you really want that?

Often, there’s a pretty clear reason for the breakup that impacts your friendship too. 

In some cases, it’s glaringly obvious that you shouldn’t stay friends with the person who broke your heart. If they cheated on you, for example, you’re hardly going to want to keep seeing them. You’d want to cut that dead weight out of your life for good. Likewise, even the fact that you’ve broken up with them at all is often enough to sour any potential friendship that you could have had. If they – or you – hold a grudge for being dumped, you’re hardly going to be able to stay on amicable terms. Why even try?

It’s probably going to weird out your future partners. 

Think about it. How would you feel if your partner is still super-close to someone they used to love? Would you feel comfortable knowing they were still hanging out with their ex all the time? Sure, that romantic relationship is in the past now. However, it’s still a bit disconcerting to have your partner’s ex constantly lurking in the background. It can cause jealousy to arise, tempers to flare and true feelings to be questioned. Basically, it’ll end up being a total hot mess. Why risk it?

Seeing them with someone else will be pretty tough. 

No matter how much you’ve convinced yourself that you’re “over” your ex, it’s still always a bit strange to see them with someone else. Even if you’ve got no interest in that person romantically anymore, it can be upsetting to see that they’ve found a new partner if you haven’t yet. Plus, you’re probably going to wonder what their new lover has that you didn’t. Ultimately, continuing to hang out with the happy new couple might start to impact your emotional wellbeing. Is it worth it to keep up a friendship with someone you used to date? Probably not.

How are you ever going to get closure if your ex is still in your life?

We all know that closure in the wake of a breakup can be an elusive beast. We’re often left wondering why it happened, what we could have done differently, or if there’s something “wrong” with us. Getting closure can be especially hard if you still see your ex-partner on a regular basis. Every time you get close to moving on, you’ll see them again and the familiar questions will come back. If you have super fun times together as friends, you may start to wonder why you ever broke up with them in the first place. It’s easy to forget that someone was a bad partner when they’re being an awesome friend.

A fresh start is often what you need after a bad breakup. 

If you’ve been in a relationship with someone for a long time, imagining a life without them by your side can be very tricky. It’s only going to get more complicated if that person is still in your life, but only as a friend. Making a fresh start can be the catalyst you need to start living a happy life once again. You can really turn a page and move on to a new chapter in your life. Plus, especially after a long-term relationship, you need to re-learn who you are without your ex by your side. That’s going to be tricky if you’re still in regular contact with them!

Staying friends with a toxic ex could put you at risk of manipulation. 

If you’ve been in an abusive relationship with someone – either mentally or physically – staying friends with them leaves you open to continued control. Your ex might be keeping you around in the hope that they can convince you to give them another chance. They might want the opportunity to continue their manipulation of you, even just as a friend. Whatever the case, keeping an abusive partner in your life as a friend is a recipe for even more heartbreak.

Even staying friends with a non-toxic ex could lead to an ill-advised reconciliation. 

Your ex-partner doesn’t necessarily have to be a master manipulator to successfully instigate a reconciliation. Keeping your ex in your life as a friend often leads to doubts creeping in. Should you have given them another chance? Is it worth getting back with them to see if they’ve changed? Your ex being your friend gives you way more of an opportunity to do that. If you’re still seeing them regularly, you might slip into old habits and reignite an ultimately doomed relationship. Remember this: there was a reason that you broke up with them in the first place. Unless you dumped them on a whim, you should probably just accept you’re incompatible and move on.

One ex-partner might find it harder to abandon their romantic feelings than the other. 

Let’s say you are in the right place emotionally to be able to have a healthy, productive friendship with your ex. How do you know they’re in the same post-breakup mindset that you are? Breakups are very rarely entirely mutual. Even if you think it’s the right time for you to be friends with their ex, it might be the wrong one for them. You could end up stringing them along and giving them false hope of a reconciliation without even realizing. People can say that they’re fine with being “just friends”, but it doesn’t mean it’s true.

It’s not your responsibility to ‘look after’ your ex post-breakup. 

A lot of people decide to stay friends with an ex out of guilt for ending the relationship in the first place. It’s easy to say that you’ll stay friends with a distraught former partner to make the situation easier for them to bear. However, it’s ultimately not down to you to nurse your ex through the breakup. They have their own support network of friends and family that they can turn to. Even if they don’t realize it, leaning on you for support will actually make the situation worse. They’re going to have to get used to living without you at some point. The sooner that happens, the better.

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