By MEGHANN NOVINSKIE & KIM ROSENBERG
Many times we hear people say, “Is it strange that I’m still friends with all my exes?” Strange? No, it’s actually quite common.
Is it appropriate? Sometimes. We tell many clients that being friends with your ex says a lot about you — good things, mostly. For those of you that despise everyone you’ve been with, what does this say about the people you chose to date and how you handled ending your relationship? Not good. Sure, there are many exceptions to the “rules” we are about to spell out for you. Trust that after years of working in the dating industry, we have the inside scoop on when and under what terms to befriend your ex(es). Before we get on our matchmaker pedestal, we want it to be clear that we’re talking about being friends with someone you’ve had a significant relationship with and not just a couple hot nights.
First, we pat you on the back if you are friends with an ex. This generally says that you were mature enough to breakup amicably, and mature enough to swallow your pride and admit your faults. You can see the good qualities in your ex, despite the fact that your relationship ended.
Rationalizing maintaining a friendship with an ex makes sense if the relationship ended agreeably or you took ample time to mend your broken heart. Unlike many of your plutonic friends, Miss Ex knows you really well. Do you have a friend who is brutally honest and can call you out on your faults? It’s probably someone you dated in the past. An intimate and significant relationship will bring out the very core of who you are, for better or for worse. Naturally, this person is also a great friend to bounce ideas off of, or get advice and opinions from. In the best case scenario, your ex will become one of your closest confidants. (One caveat: Make sure you actually have just a friendship, without a hidden agenda.)
When relationships just “fizzle out” or “run their course,” you may find yourself on the fast track to a great friendship.
But before agreeing to be friends with your ex, let’s remember one really important fact. (S)he is an EXgirl/boyfriend. EX meaning, EXpelled from your list of potential life partners, EXiled from your bedroom, EXcluded from your future plans, EX! The relationship is over.
You went through four years of couple’s therapy and nothing came of it? Well, admit to yourself that this relationship, either intimate or plutonic, is probably not worth salvaging. When relationships end because of infidelity, disrespect or betrayal, think long and hard before letting her/him back in to your life.
Are you “keeping the ex around” in hopes of rekindling your love for each other? Bad idea. “Moving on” is physical, emotional and mental. Mourn then reflect to get past your former relationship — it ended for a reason. If you truly have her/his best interest at heart, you can enter the friend zone. To be clear, being friends with your ex doesn’t mean drunken sexting or discreet late night hookups. If you got dumped, then soon after turn to him and say “let’s still be friends” with your fingers and toes crossed, you are secretly hoping that you’ll get back together or you can continue to sleep together. Doing this lessens your chance of finding someone who is actually good for you and adds extra unnecessary baggage.
In short, being friends with exes is circumstantial. As we get older and have more meaningful relationships, it is easier to maintain a friendship with exes. Factors to always consider, regardless of maturity, include the length and significance of the relationship, and how and why it ended. When a LTR ends, don’t become buddies immediately. If it was truly meaningful, take the time, and become friends without resentment, physical chemistry, or any other secret agenda. Got a question or need advice? Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org .