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Should I stay friends with my ex?

dv1642024According to a recent poll, 48% of people surveyed said they remained friends with their ex-partner. And 18% of those surveyed said that they tried, but it didn’t work. Can you really be friends with an old flame? Find out now…

“I’d rather have you in my life than not have you at all”.

We’ve all heard that one more than once.

Or how about; “We were friends before. There’s no reason why we can’t be friends again”.

Whether we choose to believe it or not, staying friends with the ex is tough. During the standard break-up post-mortem, friends and family will throw in their two cents. Some will go straight to the negative, saying that you should both part ways, turn over a new leaf and never look back. Others will adopt a more optimistic approach.

Among this flutter of opinions lies a question that few fail to consider. Regardless of whether or not you want to stay friends with your ex, the question is should you hop aboard the friend-ship?

Is it worth the pain and angst that, if we’re being honest, most of us can never completely overcome?

Staying friends with The Ex largely depends on the nature of the romance. Were you buddies before Cupid struck his arrow? Did the relationship last for many years? Was the relationship itself easy and drama-free? Was the break up mutual or one-sided? Did betrayal occur? Are there children in the picture? Are there mutual friends involved? Are you destined to run in the same circles whether you like it or not?

All of these questions need to be pondered and accounted for, and for you live-in-the-moment free spirits who take the old “why don’t we see what happens” approach, I can tell you now, the following is especially related to you.

Hostility

Let’s be honest, break-ups are rarely mutual. Mutual is just a word when relay to our friends and family to ease the pain and protect our dignity. There is always someone who holds the cards and has the final say in a relationship. Always.

So if you’re on the end of a break up, surely there’s some sort of hostility or resentment to the other person. After all, he/she has broken your heart, or at the very least given your ego a kick in the guts. Do you deserve that held over you for the rest of time?

Jealousy

When there’s hostility, there’s jealousy. What happens when your ex-partner eventually happily moves on and you’re still single or involved in a drama-filled relationship?

It’s hard to be sincerely happy for your ex when he/she has just found the new love of her life.

Ownership

It’s human nature to be jealous or hostile when you hear that your ex-flame is playing house with a new person, who we naturally resent even without knowing a thing about them.

Even if you were the one who pulled up stumps on the relationship, the thought of that person essentially rewriting and replacing the memories you shared is extremely painful.

There is always a small (or large) part of us who would prefer if they remained single and felt that no one could ever compare to you.

X-Ray Vision

Let’s not forget that you’ve seen each other naked. You will always have an image of that person in their birthday suit and all the memories that go along with it burnt at the back of your retina.

When you see them out and kiss each other hello on the cheek, maybe even get a whiff of their heavenly distinctive perfume/cologne, or your eyes lock when your song comes on at a party, it’s hard not to fall nostalgic.

No matter how thick-skinned you are, not being able to switch off this naked “superpower” is tough.  It’s hard to see the person in the same light after being entangled in each other’s skin and sharing a moment of sheer ecstasy with one another.

Communication

Isn’t the whole point of friendship is that you’re supposed to be able to be able to tell each other anything? What do you say when your new pal asks what you’re up to that evening and you have a hot date? You can’t lie because that would be going against the principles of friendship – honesty. But then again, you can’t tell the truth either. It’s uncomfortable and a sensitive topic.

Dates aside, what happens when you’re having relationship troubles of your own? You can’t exactly ask them for advice…

Remaining friends seems to provide us with the security blanket that the person who has been in our life will still be there, and we can call on them every once in a while to find out how they are. Problem is, with so many topics off limits, we’ll never actually know how they really are.

Addiction

Think of your ex-partner as an addiction. No one would ever expect a smoker to alcoholic to hang out with Charlie Sheen, so why get back in the ring of recovery with the person who knocked you out in the first place?
Some exes serve just one purpose: to torture you. The most destructive and unhealthy habits are usually the hardest to break.

“Certain people can become like a drug to you, literally,” explains Dr Janice Levine, author of Why Do Fools Fall In Love? “They can elicit a chemical reaction in the brain, releasing endorphins, adrenaline and oxytocin. You become physically and mentally addicted to them.”

“He may call you three times a day for a week, and then you won’t hear from him for months. As a result, you experience a withdrawal of sorts and wind up wanting him even more.

“He may be just as addicted to you as you are to him. He won’t give you what you need, but he doesn’t want to lose you either because he gets off on your adoration.”

The Never-Ending Story

I’ve always seen life as a story. Some people are supposed to be there from start to finish, a few characters come in halfway through to spice things up, and others simply have one chapter dedicated to them. Nothing more, nothing less.

What do you do when you meet someone who completely captivates you, but for the purposes of staying true to your journey, it’s important that their scene must fade to black?

I’ll tell you what you don’t do. You don’t keep them in the story. Characters that overstay their welcome completely ruin all the exciting times and happy memories forged in chapters gone by.

Even if your relationship was completely drama-filled, chances are that sexual chemistry still exists (unless attraction was an issue). This is a recipe for disaster. Why? Well, every time you get together under the new “friendship” premise, emotions and passion that remain dormant have the potential to explode into one more night of “memories” for old time sake. That brings you back to square one – hurt, confused, unsure and unhappy. Just when you were doing so well.

The Verdict

two centsIn a perfect world, it would be ideal for exes to remain friends. In reality, however, it proves to be a different story.

Having an ex-partner in your life (at least for the first year after breaking up) is detrimental to your long-term wellbeing. You won’t be able to ever completely move on and “quit” your addiction until you give yourself the chance to. This person, no matter how good they were as friends beforehand or how important they were to you in years gone by will ultimately prevent you ever completely and whole-heartedly starting the next chapter of your life.

My advice? Delete their number. Throw away the movie tickets that you kept from your first date. Go cold turkey. Find something else to do at 10pm – the time you would usually make the daily goodnight phone call. Get out there and try a new hobby. Grab a friend and go out and meet some new people. I’m not saying hop into a new long-term relationship, but it’s important that this new chapter begins with a dose of mystery, excitement and intrigue. You deserve it!

If children are involved, that’s a different story. It’s really important that you two find a balance between friendship and mutual respect so that your children can live the life they deserve and not have to think twice about inviting both parents to a school function. It’s also important that you both don’t use your responsibilities as a parent to prevent you both from moving on and finding happiness again. I recommend that every single parent visit a life coach to ensure that you have an entire team behind you for this new chapter in your life.