Spring is around the corner, and a lot of people I know are getting married. Likewise, a lot of people I know are ending relationships. ‘Tis the season I suppose…
It seems that whenever a relationship ends, there is the always the question of whether or not the two should remain friends.
Personally, I tend to be a libertarian when it comes to relationships. My motto could be summed up as “Whatever works for you.” What works for one person may not work for another and if you are one of those people who is best friends forever (BFFs) with your ex, then I am sincerely happy for you.
However, based on my experience and those of my friends, it probably isn’t a good idea to be friends with your ex.
Well, here are a few reasons that I can think of:
1. It’s awkward especially in those early days.
Even in relationships where both parties mutually agree to end it, there are often hurt feelings or some upset involved. If you are trying to move on, then having the other person in your life may prevent or delay the process. At the very least, give it a break for a while and establish a no-contact rule for a set period of time.
2. It’s even more awkward if you or your ex has a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Often, it’s not just awkward for you, but for the new boyfriend or girlfriend as well. This is especially true if you go on and on to your new love about how great your ex was. No matter how understanding and sweet your new guy or girl seems to be, they probably do not want to constantly hear about your ex.
Even the most confident person may start to wonder what you are doing with them if it appears you are still carrying a torch for your ex.
Also, if your ex has a new boyfriend or girlfriend, it is possible you may feel jealous of them even if do believe that you are an evolved person and feel that jealous is mostly cultural. Even if it is cultural—and I have no idea if it is or isn’t as I don’t study these things for a living—jealousy is an emotion that nearly all of us feel from time to time which brings me to #3.
3. The awkwardness increases even more if you or your ex left the other for someone else.
Now, I have heard of people who were genuinely happy for their ex when they left the relationship for someone they thought was their soulmate, but much like the Loch Ness monster, I have personally never seen one of these people. (I am not disputing that either exist—I am just saying I have yet to ever see either with my own eyes.)
However, even if you are one of these people, the chances are your ex may not be on the same plain as you are. Often times, even if the person is the one leaving the relationship, there are a lot of feelings of guilt involved. Plus, if you appear too happy, then they may wonder if you ever really cared for them in the first place.
If you are ever in the situation where you or your ex left the other for someone else and then got back together with your ex, then please, for everyone’s sanity do not try to be friends with the person that you or they left the other for. While this makes for great drama and juicy gossip for your friends, most of the time these things do not end well or at least not based on what I have seen.
If you want drama, then stick to Mad Men.
4. Elizabeth Wurtzel put in best in her book, The Bitch Rules: “Most of the time people you end romantic relationships have hurt you deeply in some way.”
Friends, by their very definition, do not hurt you. Her advice is that if you want to want to keep in touch with your ex and see how they are doing, then meet for your ex for coffee once a year, write the occasional note or make the occasional call—but don’t try to be best buds. Not being friends with someone does not have to mean that you ignore that person or run the other way when you see them; it just means that they are not part of your life.
This brings me to my last point.
5. Just because someone was part of your life for a period of time does not mean that they have to be part of your life forever.
Think back to your best friend in elementary school. Are you still best friends with them? If you are, then wonderful. However, most of us have many people who have come and gone in our lives. People who cannot let go—and you probably have met someone like this—and are constantly calling, texting and sending gifts to their exes, even though said ex has not expressed any interest in being in touch, are usually not people who have moved on.
Also, if you are doing this and in a relationship with someone else then this could be a sign that you have some serious boundary issues.
In a nutshell, when people are no longer part of our lives, it doesn’t have to mean the relationship was a failure.
It’s a cliché, but it is true that sometimes if you truly love someone then some times the best thing you can do is to set them free.
Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor based in Charlottesville, VA. When not she is not on the mat, she can be found at her other job which is teaching children how to do needlework. In her spare time she enjoys photography.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise