Staying friends with your ex can be completely harmless and healthy. However, under certain circumstances, you should avoid doing so at any cost.
There are specific reasons that are the worst for choosing to pursue a platonic relationship with an ex. In what follows we will lay them out for you.
1. You’re still in love
Still having feelings, and secretly hoping to win them back can be a strong motivation for staying friends with your ex, but unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous ones. If your ex has made clear that they don’t want to be with you, there’s probably not much you can do to change their mind. Desperately hanging on will only lead to repeated heartbreak and ultimately make you feel crushed. Try to spend time with friends who make you feel loved and appreciated. This ex is most likely not one of them.
2. You feel sad for them
If the break-up was your choice and your ex is taking it badly, the last thing you would want to do is hurt them even more by rejecting their request for friendship. However, your support may actually make them feel even worse, and after all, it is not your responsibility to nurse them through their heartache.
People like to feel that support is available if they need it, but they would not want to feel needy if they had the choice. Your continual support is unlikely to help them move one, even if they may crave your comfort. Make sure they are getting support from other people in their life instead of taking the burden upon yourself. Also, give them a genuine apology if you owe them one, but don’t drag it on for too long..
3. You feel lonely
Going through a break-up can feel like there’s a hole in your life, and that hole can take time to fill. If you feel lonely on a Friday night, inviting your ex over for a movie may sound more appealing than making the effort to leave the house and meet new people. But it can also lead you into an on and off relationship rollercoaster, which is characterized by more uncertainty, more communication problems, less satisfaction, and less love. Missing the intimacy of a romantic relationship is understandable. Nevertheless, putting yourself in the dark zone of hooking up with an ex may not be worth the temporary comfort. When feeling lonely, try spending time with family and friends, and search for ways to make the most of your alone time.
4. You hope they will change someday
Whether you separated because your ex-partner was unfaithful or had an uncontrolled drug addiction, you still might be holding up hopes that one day they will learn from their mistakes and at some point grow into the kind of partner you need. By staying in touch as friends, you’re able to keep them around and maybe even help them change for the better. In some cases, the hope of reunification can motivate people to improve. But if your ex senses that, it will not be so hard to win you back, and they may be more focused on trying to prove that they have changed rather than making real changes. In this case, you may be setting yourself up for further disappointments.
5. You want to keep them as a Plan B
A desire might appear in you to keep in touch with your ex just in case you can not find someone better. It goes without saying that this kind of approach is unfair to them, but can hold you back as well. Sometimes you will have to close a door fully if you want another door to open.
6. You want to keep an eye on them
It can be painful to think of your ex finding love in someone else’s arms, even if you know that your relationship wasn’t meant to be. Staying friends might allow you to keep tabs on their dating life and even give you some influence over it. Although this might sound tempting, becoming your ex’s confidant may benefit neither you nor them in the long run, especially if you’re unsure of your feelings about them moving on. Even if you just remain friends on Facebook, this can give you a window into your ex’s life, for better or worse. It is important to point out that Facebook “stalking” tends to increase anxiety and jealousy, and If you find difficulty in resisting it, you may be better of unfriending your ex, both on and offline.
7. You suffer from the “grass is greener” syndrome
If you keep on finding faults with a new partner, you may feel more interested in staying in contact with your ex. It is not uncommon to start romanticizing the person you’re not with since you’re no longer exposed to their faults and annoying habits but be aware, this is a trap. If the grass always seems greener somewhere else you’ll never be happy and satisfied with what you have. If you’re unhappy with your current relationship it’s worth talking about it and trying to address those feelings rather than turning to an ex for support or as an escape. Adding an ex into the mix when your relationship is in a bad spot is only more likely to complicate things even further.
Is there a positive side to staying friends with your ex?
If neither of you has hidden motivations like the ones we listed above, and if your friendship doesn’t affect your current relationships – a good test is whether you’re comfortable hanging out with your new partner and your ex together and whether your ex’s partner feels ok with having you around – it may very well work. Careful though, ulterior motives can be sneaky, and our minds have ways of disguising them as innocent things. So you need to make sure you are being honest about your true intentions here.