We're Just Friends!
Many people have had past relationships with individuals who shared similar interests and who were great companions. Some give credit to their exes for helping them through rough spots in their life, showing them they have worth, and/or being their "safety net". Sometimes when relationships end, people vow to remain friends, knowing that they are in a better place because of those now ended relationships. Some exes actually do continue to be friends and will occasionally hang out, go to dinner or a movie, and remain somewhat connected. That sounds great, right? Maybe you, yourself, are friendly with an ex from your past.
The question: what happens when you begin a new, committed relationship? Do you continue hanging out with your ex? Does your new partner know about your ex? If so, does your new partner have a problem with your continued "friendship"? Or, if the shoe is on the other foot, does your new partner hang out with an ex, and are you okay with it? Let's explore.
There are many different opinions on this subject, as you can imagine. The quick response of, "Yes, you can be friends with an ex," normally comes from those who do maintain a friendship with theirs. However, if your new partner is the one who still maintains that type of friendship, your response may be, "No, you can't be friends with an ex and you shouldn't continue that relationship."
We'll start with the reasons you should not and can not be friends with someone once a committed relationship is over.
- One of the two of you want more. Some call it false hope, others just call it torture. For example, a conversation comes up about something the two of you did in the past, and one of you starts reminiscing. Or, something is said and one of you looks at the other because of your history. A look that is only known by the two of you. You get lost in your ex's eyes, and your partner in yours. You want to embrace and kiss, but you can't. Is that not torture?
- You don't really want your ex to start dating again. If your ex is interested in someone else, it makes you physically ill. That's not friendship. Friends want their friends to be happy and to be in strong relationships. You probably just want your ex to remain emotionally committed to you if you continue to hang out after your relationship is over.
- It's uncomfortable to your mutual friends; the people who know you've dated, who know you've seen each other naked, and they know how you connected as a couple. Now they have to figure out how to act or how to treat the two of you in a group, when you show up together, but not as a couple.
- Your chances of finding true love, and your ex's chances of finding true love are slim if you continue to hang out every weekend. No new love interest wants to hang out with you and your ex.
- It's not exactly healthy to hang out with someone who broke your heart. Someone who hurt you deeply is not someone to hang out with at every opportunity. Most importantly, if the reasons for breaking up include infidelity, hurtful comments, or lack of honesty and integrity, why would you want to hang out with that person?
Now we'll go through a short list of how to hang out with your ex if the situation or opportunity arises.
- Agree not to discuss things that happened or places you went as a couple. Going over these events are likely just to make you both feel awkward and may have one or both of you feeling lovesick for those days gone by.
- Agree not to discuss your future. Things may have been so comfortable when you were a couple that one, or both, of you may talk about the future in terms of things working out in the end. Avoid the heartache. Don't go there.
- Make sure there is no kissing, or any public displays of affection. Be sure that every stranger that sees the two of you knows that you are friends within the first few seconds. You are no longer a couple.
- Don't drink, and if you do, don't overindulge. Enough said.
- Be sure others, such as mutual friends and extended family members, are clear about the "new" nature of your relationship.
It's Your Decision, But...
Only you, and your ex, can decide if it's worth it to continue hanging out. As a rule, it really is not healthy. You also need to consider that other prospective, available people are probably not going to want to date you if they know that your ex is still in the picture, in any capacity. If you were someone wanting to date a particular person, would you want to go into a relationship with someone who obviously still has at least an emotional connection with their ex?
The staff at the Relationship Center of Orange County can help you overcome the urge to remain connected to your ex. Trained professionals are here to speak with you and help you through the process, so you can move forward with your life and find that special someone who you can remain committed to for the long haul. Make your appointment today, using our online scheduling tool, or call us at (949) 430-7353 to set up an appointment that fits your schedule.