7. You’re lonely.
When you go through a break-up, it can feel like there’s a hole in your social life, and that hole can take time to fill. If you’re feeling lonely on a Saturday night, having your ex over for a movie and take-out might sound more appealing than making the effort to go out and meet new people. But it can also lead you onto the on-again/off-again relationship rollercoaster, which research suggests is characterized by lower satisfaction, less love, more uncertainty, and more communication problems. It’s understandable to miss the intimacy of a romantic relationship, but putting yourself in the danger zone of hooking up with an ex may not be worth the short-term comfort. When you’re feeling lonely, turn to friends and family instead, and find ways to make the most of your alone time.
“Some people don’t realize what they have until it’s gone, but that does not always mean they are supposed to get it back.”―
6. You’re having “grass is greener” syndrome.
If you’re not totally satisfied in a new relationship, research suggests you may feel more interested in keeping up contacts with your ex. It’s easy to romanticize the person you’re not with since you’re no longer regularly exposed to their irritating habits. But this way of thinking is a trap because if the grass always seems greener somewhere else, you’ll never be satisfied wherever you are. If you’re unhappy in your current relationship, it’s worth trying to address those feelings with your current partner rather than turning to an ex for support or as an escape. Adding the ex to the mix when your relationship is already in a complicated spot is only likely to complicate things further.
5. You hope that maybe someday they will change.
Maybe you broke up because your ex was unfaithful or drank too much, but you’re holding out hope that they will learn from their mistakes and eventually grow into the kind of partner you want. By staying friends, you’re able to keep them in your life and maybe even help them make changes. In some cases, hope for reconciliation can motivate people to improve, but if your ex senses that it won’t be so hard to win you back, they may be more focused on trying to prove that they have changed than on making real changes, and you may be setting yourself up for more disappointment.
“I don’t think much about guys from the past. I’m glad I knew them, but there’s a reason they didn’t make it into my future.” – Lorraine Rosenthal
4. You want to keep them on the back burner.
A more cynical version of the preceding item is this desire to keep your ex around just in case you can’t find someone better. Needless to say, this approach is unfair to your ex, but it can hold you back as well. As I wrote in a previous post, playing it safe is not always the best approach when it comes to love. Sometimes you have to close one door and close it fully if you want another door to open.
3. They won’t take no for an answer.
You might not want to stay friends, but what if an ex does, and won’t leave you alone? As stated above, you have every right to say no to friendship. Make sure that you are direct with your ex about your feelings (and don’t be afraid to get the police involved if they push things too far). While a little Facebook “stalking” may be relatively harmless, true stalking is scary and unacceptable. And it is surprisingly common. In one set of studies, 40% of college students surveyed reported engaging in at least one stalking behavior following a break-up, and approximately 10% engaged in six or more. These behaviors included things like contacting an ex after being told not to or showing up at an ex’s residence uninvited. Anger, jealousy, obsessiveness, and need for control all predicted greater stalking behavior, so beware of these traits.