Can You Stay Friends with an Ex?

Just because you and your partner break up, does it mean you have to lose the other meaningful relationships that came with it? The answer is…maybe.

Actually one of the more painful parts of splitting up can be that the very people you want to turn to for support, to cry on their shoulder, to help fill up your now vacant time could be the people who seem to “belong” to your ex. Whether it is your ex’s friend or family members, it’s terrible to feel that part of your loss may end up being these other people you like or care about.

So then you wonder “Why can’t I keep them? “

The problem is that involvement with people who stay closely connected with your ex is likely to keep you involved and entrenched with that ex. Many split-ups are angry ones and even after many years, the anger can continue. Often your hurt makes you wish they too are hurting, and having a mutual friend keeps you checking in to see how they are doing. You tend to stay wrapped up in the drama, making it more difficult to move on. Similarly your ex is likely to feel angry that you are trying to “take” their friend and this keeps them wishing for retaliation.

Staying involved with your ex’s family can be more gratifying if it is a mutual attempt to raise the children, however, it can also be more distressing. This is because people tend to feel even more ownership about their families and therefore could feel hurt and betrayed about their family members “fraternizing” with the ex.

The big pothole is the “why” you want to stay connected. Too often it is an attempt to either hold onto your ex or a wish to torture them by making them feel envious and insecure. Neither helps you move on, heal and find someone else. It is easy to lie even to yourself about your motivations.

If you want to maintain a friendship…

1. Ask yourself why? And be honest about it.

2. Do not make the friend or family member choose sides.

3. If its family, focus on the children

4. Do not discuss the ex!

5. Reevaluate periodically if it is constructive or destructive.

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