in: Dating & Relationships

Staying Friends With an Ex is the Worst Idea (Says Science)

YourTango

Remaining friends with an ex might seem like a fine idea. According to the experts, though, your best bet at a happy future includes leaving them out of it.


Think twice before you make that date with your ex.

I have exes who I’m still friends with and exes I’m most certainly not friends with. I can’t say that I sway one way over the other with this issue.

I treasure one of my friend-exes and can’t see my life without him, while another of my friend exes … well, let’s just say if he disappeared from my life forever, I wouldn’t grieve.

I had an ex whom I tried to stay friends with, but when he disrespected—not just me, but all of his former flames—I had to let him go as a friend. Do I still look at his Facebook page? Sure. Not as often as I once did, but he’s part of the circulation when I’m checking in on various people.

Ending a relationship can be extremely difficult and if staying friends with your ex makes it easier, is that really wrong?

“Wanting to be friends keeps you from feeling the full depth of the loss, softening the blow of the breakup,” says Nina Atwood, therapist and author of Temptations of the Single Girl. You might think that it’s a good idea to stay platonic with a former lover, but there are many challenges, such as the feelings of emotional attachment.

Atwood says, “You may feel that this person knows you better than anyone else. Even if you’re not sexually attracted, you may still want the emotional intimacy that you shared.”

And this kind of dependency can make you more vulnerable to getting hurt all over again once your ex finds someone new—and they always find someone new. None of us enjoy the feeling that we’ve been replaced.

The transition from relationship to friendship can have all kinds of hidden dangers that can lead to more pain, according to relationship expert Lindsay Kriger. “Let’s be friends” may sound like a great idea, but it can be a lot harder to pull off in real time.

Kriger says, “What it doesn’t mean is ‘Let’s have a completely platonic relationship in which we ignore the feelings we had for one another, even the ones we still have.'”

OK, so staying real-time friends might not be such a great idea, but there’s probably not a problem staying Facebook friends. Right?

Well, no.

Kriger believes the most important thing to do once a relationship is over is to cut all ties and move on in order to allow yourself the chance to find happiness elsewhere. That means deleting his number, and yes, even blocking him on Facebook.

Juliana Breines, PhD of Psychology Today draws a strong connection between Facebook stalking and increases in jealousy and anxiety.

Ultimately, every situation is specific to each relationship, just like my exes. With some, there’s no problem with staying friends, and others I needed to cut out of my life—and that includes as Facebook friends.

Psychologist Karen Sherman says that a period of separation is critical before rekindling the friendship. It doesn’t have to be long, but it’s important to let the romantic aspects of your connection die down a bit before jumping into something as friends.

That’s all great, but a pint of ice cream is probably your best option here.

 

Written by Christine Schoenwald

This piece of wisdom was originally published with YourTango; republished with the kindest permission. 

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Looking for real talk about the most important relationships in your life? Who isn't! YourTango is our go-to destination for cathartic love advice, sexy tips, brave personal essays, and an amazing network of experts who solve our trickiest dilemmas. Whether you're single, married, divorced, or in-between, the online magazine is not afraid to cover the stuff we all think, but don't say out loud. (Also, the articles and hilarious memes on their Facebook page bring tears to our eyes!)

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