Breaking up is rarely easy. Whether it’s an amicable separation or a tumultuous one, the decision to end a romantic relationship is typically accompanied by a range of emotions. One common post-breakup dilemma is whether or not to remain friends with an ex-partner.
While some people successfully maintain friendships with their former lovers, it’s essential to understand that this isn’t always the best course of action. Here India’s leading couples therapist Shivani Misri Sadhoo shares why staying friends with an ex is often a bad idea and offers insights into when it might be possible.
- Emotional Healing
One of the primary reasons why staying friends with an ex can be detrimental is the hindered process of emotional healing. After a breakup, individuals need time and space to grieve the loss of the relationship and reflect on their feelings. Remaining close to an ex-partner can impede this healing process, as it often involves reliving memories and reopening emotional wounds.
- Unresolved Feelings
Breakups typically occur for a reason, whether it’s due to incompatible goals, differences in values, or more severe issues like infidelity or abuse. Attempting to maintain a friendship with an ex can prevent the resolution of these underlying problems. Unresolved feelings can lead to confusion, resentment, and even a false hope of reconciliation, which can further complicate your emotional state.
- Jealousy and Insecurity
Entering new romantic relationships while maintaining a close friendship with an ex can lead to feelings of jealousy and insecurity in your new partner. They may wonder if you still have romantic feelings for your ex or if you compare them to your former partner. These doubts can create tension and ultimately sabotage your new relationship.
- Difficulty Moving On
Staying friends with an ex can also make it challenging to move on and find new love. You may be emotionally unavailable or unable to fully commit to a new relationship while still emotionally attached to your ex. New romantic prospects may be wary of getting involved with someone who maintains a close bond with an ex, fearing they will always come second.
- Mixed Signals
Friendship with an ex can send mixed signals to both parties involved. One person may be genuinely interested in maintaining a platonic friendship, while the other may secretly hope for a romantic reconciliation. This misalignment of expectations can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and a strained friendship.
- The Risk of Rekindling
Sometimes, friendships with exes can evolve into rekindled romantic feelings. Spending time together as friends may lead to nostalgia, physical attraction, or a desire to recreate the positive aspects of the relationship. This can result in a cycle of breaking up and getting back together, which is often emotionally exhausting and rarely leads to a healthier, more satisfying relationship.
When Staying Friends with an Ex Can Work?
While there are many reasons why staying friends with an ex can be a bad idea, it’s important to acknowledge that there are exceptions. Under certain circumstances, maintaining a friendship with an ex can be possible and even beneficial:
- A Genuine Friendship: If both you and your ex-partner genuinely value each other’s friendship and can set clear boundaries, staying friends might work.
- Minimal Emotional Attachment: If the romantic feelings have genuinely dissipated, and you both have moved on emotionally, a friendship is more likely to be successful.
- Mutual Breakup: If the breakup was mutual and based on compatibility issues or external factors, rather than betrayal or toxicity, maintaining a friendship may be more feasible.
In most cases, staying friends with an ex is a risky proposition that can hinder emotional healing, create confusion, and complicate future relationships. It’s essential to consider the reasons for your breakup, your emotional state, and the potential impact on your future relationships before deciding whether or not to pursue a friendship with an ex. If you do choose to remain friends, clear communication, boundaries, and a commitment to moving forward is crucial to make it work. Ultimately, it’s essential to prioritize your emotional well-being and personal growth after a breakup, even if that means temporarily distancing yourself from an ex-partner.
Shivani Misri Sadhoo is an internationally recommended relationship Counsellor by world’s biggest and most trusted study and research-based foundation for couples therapy – Gottman Institute. She is trained on specialised key relationship counselling Skills from AIIMS, VIMHANS and various other reputed institutions. Counselor Shivani Misri Sadhoo, is also Certified for Emotionally Focused Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.
Counsellor Shivani Misri Sadhoo is also a Certified Neuro Linguistic Practitioner with specialised training and experience in the field of affairs/betrayals, trust issues, difficulty communicating, conflicting values, bereavement, grief and loss (affairs, separation, divorce, childhood) and emotional health issue (anxiety, social anxiety, fear, depression, low mood).
Currently, Shivani Misri Sadhoo is one of the top counsellors with the HIGHEST Success Rate with over 17,000 happy couples and individuals (based in India and abroad), who has benefited from her therapy. Psychologist and Counselor Shivani Misri Sadhoo not only practice independently from her clinic in Greater Kailash, Delhi, India but also listed on the panel of eminent hospitals like IBS Hospital – Institute of Brain & Spine, Express Clinic, Fortis (formerly) based in Delhi.