Buckle up, friends. Ready to get into the age-old debate that’s still perplexing people daily? Whether or not you can be friends with an ex has been complicating relationship dynamics since before we can account for, I’m sure. Have you seen this in your own experience? Tell us how you’d tell a friend—can you stay friends with an ex?
Your Ex –Defined
People might have their definitions of ex. It could be someone they spent a weekend with a couple of weeks, months, or years. The term “ex” gets thrown around quite a bit. But for argument’s sake, let’s refer to the type of situation where two people have dated for some time, and experienced sexual and emotional intimacy together.
Outside of this variable, each relationship and circumstance is different. Some people claim that you can be friends with an ex, while others detest the idea.
Challenges with Staying Friends with an Ex:
If you’ve never observed just how bad it can go when two people who shouldn’t dare attempt being friends after a breakup, consider yourself lucky. The onset of jealousy and ill-feelings is natural, but some other reasons it might be unhealthy are:
- It might be emotionally damaging if expectations between two people are misaligned.
- If there is unresolved trauma in the dynamic.
- You may prevent each other from moving forward.
Not to mention, a desire to stay friends with an ex has been linked to problematic personality traits. But who are we to say that’s your case.
It Might be Possible If
Psychologists have shared their understanding of healthy environments where you can still be friends:
Psychology professor, Dr. Christine Selby, says that if two people were initially brought together by friendship, it might be rekindled if there is a clear and honest understanding that your romantic relationship did not work and is truly over.
Clinical psychologist, Dr. Sherrie Campbell, suggests that anywhere from six months to a year is necessary to get over a relationship before re-entering each other’s lives.
Licensed mental health counselor Carolyn McNulty recommends that it’s possible if healthy boundaries are put into place.
A Note from GR8NESS
Some other thoughts to consider are circumstances where children, assets, or some other practical tie exists. In these cases, the above guidelines might be wise to follow for cultivating the most healthy relationship possible.
This is all to say that whether or not you can be friends with an ex is up to you. Whether or not it’s healthy, however, depends on your relationship.