Many people will tell you that it’s healthy and mature to remain friends with your ex. Not everyone can do so. But being friends with your ex has some big downsides. In reality, it’s best to remain cordial – but don’t be friends with your ex.
You Won’t Be Motivated to Make New Friends
If you were lucky enough to have a spouse that was also your best friend, you both may feel even more inclined to hold onto that friendship after you divorce. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s better to make a complete break so that you feel a void. You won’t be motivated to cultivate new friendships if you hang onto an old one, even if it’s a bad fit. If you feel like you no longer have a best friend, you’ll be more likely to get out there and make new friends, which is ultimately what you need to do after a divorce.
Don’t Deprive Yourself of Being Alone
After something as awful as a divorce, it’s very therapeutic to take time to be alone. Even after those first few dreadful days, you’ll need to spend time exploring who you are as a single man. As part of a couple, it’s easy to get lost. You may have sacrificed a little part of your identity in order to give yourself completely into that relationship with your ex. There’s a unique, individual inside of you, and you need to be alone in order to rediscover who you are and what you really want. If you don’t remain friends with your ex, you won’t deprive yourself of this introspection. Even if you don’t succumb to a physical relationship with your ex, their continual presence in your life as a friend will keep you from exploring your true self, and figuring out what you want the rest of your life to look like.
You May Get Dumped Again
What’s worse than going through a divorce? Going through a second breakup – with the same person. Don’t be friends with your ex and stay emotionally attached to them or you may feel like you have a good, healthy relationship. So, why end it completely? What usually happens though, is that the ex eventually meets someone new. That someone new is not likely to be thrilled that you’re still in the picture, even if it is platonic. In a bid to please that new person, your ex dumps you as a friend. They may even ghost you, with no explanation why they’re no longer speaking to you. Now you have to go through the pain of rejection all over again, which prolongs your own healing process.
You Could Get Manipulated
If your ex is secretly angry about the divorce, or their motives aren’t entirely pure, you could easily get manipulated by remaining friends with him or her. While posing as your friend, they may intentionally give you bad advice, or keep tabs on you for nefarious purposes. They may even try to wreck your chances with another person. Since you trusted your ex during your marriage and you assume their friendship is genuine, you’ll be less likely to pick up on their actions until it’s too late.
The Perception of Yourself Stays the Same
Everyone you encounter has a certain perception of you, and they use that perception on which to base their interactions with you. For instance, your mother might still see you as a child (even though you’re a grown man), and talk to you as though you don’t know what you’re doing. You can’t do much about a doting parent, but you can do something about the way your ex perceives you. If your ex saw you as something less than who you are, underestimated your potential, or never really “got” you, it’s not doing you any good to continue that relationship in any form, friends or not. You won’t be able to alter their perception of you, and it’s not worth it to try. Worse, their unflattering image of you may stop you from realizing your own true self worth.
You Might Jeopardize Future Romantic Relationships
If you’ve started to move on with a romantic relationship but are still clinging to your ex as a friend, you may unwittingly jeopardize your new romance. Just as your ex’s new romantic partner won’t like you hanging around, neither will your new lover. And the more you try to defend your ex by explaining that you’re just friends, the more likely your new paramour will be to take a walk.
Don’t Be Friends with Your Ex
True friends are there for you when you need them. If you stay friends with your ex, you may start to feel entitled to ask for favors. That includes times when you may need help moving your stuff, a small loan to cover the rent, dog sitting duties, or even a ride home after a night of excess drinking. While it’s fine to ask a regular friend for small favors, asking your ex may come back to haunt you. You never want to feel beholden to an ex. If they begin to feel resentful, they could lash out against you or leave you hanging when you really need help.
One of You Might Want Something….More
If you enjoyed a healthy sexual relationship while you were married, there’s a chance that attraction will continue after the divorce. By remaining friends with your ex, you open up the possibility that your ex could begin harboring a desire to get back together, at least physically. If you don’t want to unintentionally lead your ex on, then ‘t be friends with your ex. The same goes for you, too. If your ex’s allure is like a drug to you, it’s time to cut the cord – cold turkey.
Reality is, the buddy-buddy relationship with your ex probably isn’t what you think it is. It’s not so much a friendship but a crutch. Divorce is tough, and staying friends makes it all easier, like pulling off a bandage slowly. While you both deserve credit for getting past your differences to remain friends, in the long term it’s not the healthiest situation for either of you.
Don’t be friends with your ex. What’s best for both of you is to be cordial and polite, but distant. There’s a difference between being friends and just knowing someone. Think of your ex as a close acquaintance. It’s healthy to stay on speaking terms, especially if there are kids involved, but don’t go out of your way to initiate communication unless it’s necessary. In this way, you’ll be able to figure out what needs to be negotiated between you without sabotaging each other’s lives or preventing one another from moving on. Be willing to let go for the greater good – for both of you.