To remain friends, or not to remain friends? Depending on who you ask, the answers can sway in polar opposite directions. As someone who can’t seem to keep most exes around even as Facebook friends, going our separate ways has always been the route I’ve taken, and that’s perfectly fine with me. But after asking around, I’ve noticed most people have similar reasons for saying yes or no to remaining friends with an ex. Here are a few:
1) They can provide valuable insight.
If there’s anything that might keep you from repeating the same relationship mistakes over and over, it could be the insight that only an ex can provide. This is usually a dynamic available after some serious time, distance and growth has occurred between the two of you, but your ex could be a goldmine of valuable information. Asking someone formerly on the receiving end how things you did made them feel could shine a light on how to improve communication with future partners.
2) Their presence can become toxic.
If you see each other after the relationship ends and you can’t, at the very least, feign acting friendly, you two do not need to be friends. One of the best things about ending a relationship that isn’t working is moving on, so if you’ve torn off that band-aid and the drama left with it, enjoy it!
3) They can be a great friend.
Chances are, if you dated each other for more than a few weeks, you probably have quite a bit in common. One of the most rewarding aspects of a romantic relationship can be the companionship, and if you’re able to remain friends, those good times don’t have to end just because your feelings have changed. If you guys were friends before you were dating, all the easier to keep that aspect of the relationship alive.
4) They can create problems for new relationships.
Maybe you’ve decided you and a former partner can remain friends. While this can be mature and healthy, not everyone may be down with your ex being around - especially a new partner. If you truly have no lingering romantic feelings, then of course it’s not up to you to cut that relationship out of your life simply because it triggers someone else’s insecurities. But if you find yourself keeping your ex around for reasons you may not care to admit, it might end any new relationships before they really get a fair chance.
5) They can actually help you move on.
Sometimes the hardest thing about having a relationship end is a lack of closure. With so many things left unsaid, it can be hard to truly move on, and many people carry unresolved resentments and anger into their new relationships, unintentionally damaging them. If you are able to remain friends with an ex (even if that means taking some time apart), it can do a world of good to get some closure. Going into new relationships with the idea that they all end in heartache or that other people can’t be trusted can not only harm those new relationships, but it can really do number on our own self esteem. Of course, we don’t necessarily need our exes to reach this point, but having the option might it easier.
6) If you’re vulnerable, they may be too close for comfort.
Before you broke up with your now ex, there was probably some amount of safety and closeness that was available as a result of your bond. If you haven’t given your separation enough time and distance, you might find yourself longing to be comforted by the very person whose absence is causing your pain, which can leave you in a confusing position. If you’re missing them or hurting and seek the comfort of being loved, it’s probably better to find that in safer places, even if those places aren’t as immediately gratifying.
When it comes to real life, nothing is as clear-cut as a pros and cons list. Everyone’s decision process will be different given the specific situation, so listen to your head and your heart, and make the decision that works for you. After all, you can always change your mind if it isn’t working out because the most important part of any relationship is taking care of yourself.