How Friendly Should You Remain With Your Ex When You’re In A New Relationship?

February 16, 2017  |  

My last relationship ended almost 10 years ago and to this day, my ex and I are still friends — or something like that. Friends might not be the most accurate description as we only send each other birthday texts and run into one another at the gatherings of mutual friends.

For the most part, we keep things light. The most in-depth conversation we’ve had in years was over text message about the joys, and the pain, of planning a wedding. He got married almost one year after me. But that’s about it.

I would say that we are in a pretty good place. Our non-romantic relationship came to be after our five-year romantic relationship ended amicably, yet we went a while without talking to each other. However, the death of a close family member weeks after our breakup catapulted our platonic relationship.

But things often get awkward when we run into one another with our significant other’s in tow. I’m never really sure about how to handle the uncomfortable greetings: Do you give a hug? Do you introduce your old partner to your new significant other?

Still, we both know that we were definitely not meant to be and there is no chance that we would ever rekindle our romance, so there is no ulterior motive in our being “friends” or at least acquaintances.

Despite our ability to maintain a friendship, I’ll admit that it’s not that normal for past lovers to become friends post-breakup. In fact, I have a few friends who won’t even be fake friends with their exes on social media, even when the demise of the relationship was a peaceful one. Also, I would imagine that actually befriending your ex is an anomaly be cordial is one thing, claiming friendship and actually hanging out is another) and that most people would think it’s borderline sinful to keep in constant communication with a former flame. A study conducted by researchers from Oakland University actually reported that remaining in touch with an ex could possibly open doors, in their mind, to love, important information, money or even sex, according to the Huffington Post, so intentions aren’t always pure.

And in her blog post titled “In Love and War” on Psychology Today, psychologist Juliana Breines said that remaining friends with your former partner for the wrong reasons can hurt both parties. On average, “exes tend to have lower-quality friendships than opposite-sex friends who were never romantically involved.” She wrote. “They are less emotionally supportive, less helpful, less trusting, and less concerned about the other person’s happiness.” She goes on to write that this is truer for people who were not in satisfying relationships with one another and when the breakup was not a mutual decision.

I agree with Breines in that if your ex was an important part of your life at one point, wanting to keep in touch is understandable. However, does that desire to maintain a friendship (whether you were in a serious relationship, married or simply had a fling) warrant such a friendship (excluding co-parenting relationships)? More importantly, is this friendship appropriate after entering a new relationship?

Using discretion while being respectful of your new partner’s feelings is a must when dealing with an old flame. If the relationship is too dramatic (as in, wreaking havoc in your actual romantic relationship) and can’t be handled maturely, let it go.

I’ve heard the saying “exes are exes for a reason,” and in some cases, they should stay in the past for good. But if the general love is still there, do you really have to cut all ties?

Image via Shutterstock 

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