Butterflies are always swimming in your stomach when you find that special someone that excites you in the right way. You yearn for their presence in your life constantly either digitally or physically. The laughter they bring into your life is immeasurable. And you want to exist in this bubble forever. However, sometimes we don’t get what we wish for- the happily ever after. You find yourself alone because due to reasons unforeseen before, you and your partner are no longer an item. The person becomes a stranger who has seen you naked and seen in your most vulnerable state. The intimate stranger. So when the dust has settled after the end of the relationship, many people always come back to this one important question: should I remain friends with my ex or not?
There is no easy answer, or right answer for that matter. For this person was either your friend before they became your lover- so you share a lot of history. Or other times, they were the lover who filled the friendship role so well, that they became your rock and source of inspiration. When an intimate relationship dissolves…should the friendship die with it too or can it be salvaged and be placed into it’s own box?
Before diving into the answers, let’s look at the relationship first. For you to consider someone for friendship it means the relationship has to have been long term or at least you knew each other before for a long period of time. Affairs and flings will give an instant answer to this question. But those longer ones will require wisdom and strength to terminate them completely or maintain a semblance of it.
Regardless of the length, let me give you some of the reasons why it’s not a good idea to maintain friendships with exes:
1. Breaking your heart over and over again
This is an obvious one. You will take longer to heal if you maintain someone who broke your heart in your life in the first place. Or if you heal, you will be looking over your shoulder hoping for a chance for another round of a go into the relationship. You won’t be able to appreciate new memories as your mind will be in constant reminder of the good times you had with an ex. Cutting them off allows you to reminisce in the memories without allowing them (the ex) to remain in your life. However, maintaining exes’ means re-living those moments each and every day vividly as they are right in your face. This may even cloud your vision to potential partners that have interest in you.
2. You get front row seat into your exes life and relationship
I remember a friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend of three years because the guy didn’t have dreams and never had the will to go out there and live his life. He had so much potential but little drive to unfold it. After they broke up, they remained friends. And six months later, the guy introduced her to his new girlfriend. What really pained my friend the most is seeing the guy unleashing his hunger to live; suddenly, he had goals and ambitions and he was going after them with vigour and hunger of man who had limited time. My girl was devastated. Why didn’t he show me that drive when we were together? She cried sadly. I had no answer for her. That front row seat into his ex’s life allowed her to see a man whom she never saw when they were together- a man she had always wanted; but now was with another. It was painful to watch. Sometimes it’s not good to see what the person you use to love is doing in its entirety. It will make you question your decision, your worth and everything in between. Have glimpses but don’t watch the whole thing unfold. It broke her heart seeing him step up his game and be a better man- an effort that he never gave her but is now bestowing another partner.
3. Can you compartmentalize?
Some people are good at compartmentalization and some of us are not. Dealing with an ex everyday requires you to have this skill. For at times, they will come and tell you all the good and sexy things about their new partners possess or at times they will tell you all their inadequacies that they can’t fix but were not a problem when you were with them. This knowledge brings you jealous emotions and cocky satisfaction at the same time. However, what does that information help you with exactly in your current life? Other than you being their emotional buffer, how do you benefit from this? It’s hard to know someone who has seen you naked appreciate another’s nakedness more than yours. Or watching them do all those things that you wanted to do but never got to- with another person. Can you compartmentalize and remain intact without being affected or your feelings hurt? Only you know the answer to this.
4. You have to look forward
When I was learning to drive, my instructor use to tell me- focus on the road ahead; the rear view mirror and the sight mirrors are to be consulted from time to time but not focused on. Maintaining friendship with an ex looks like more focused approach to driving which centres on looking at the rear view and sight mirrors while consulting the main road ahead form time to time; something that is vice versa and dangerous. You will either crush or cover very little distance moving forward.
5. What about the other members of the family?
If you were in a long term relationship with someone, chances are their family know you and have embraced you. Once the relationship ends, what do you do with their mother, sisters, brothers and other relatives and friends? To allow you to make the decision easier, look at reason 1 to 4. Also, chances are they will stick with their family member and you will have courtesy treatment. So limit your interaction with them; remain cordial but keep your distance. Otherwise, you will be relieving the relationship through them too if you are not careful.