Much like there is no universal rule for getting over an ex, there is no standard guideline for whether or not you should continue to be friends with an ex...
...or is there?
Is it, regardless of your relationship, a bad idea to stay friends?
My girlfriends have done it. I’ve done it. We’ve all come to the same conclusion.
Although I defied their advice when I broke up with my boyfriend and decided to stay close friends with him, I have found out the hard way that it may not have been the healthiest of choices.
I decided to dissect the situation by first considering WHY we want to remain close to our exes.
As “best friends,” we can continue to rely on them for emotional support. We can keep calling them to share the every day goings on in our lives. Sometimes we can even continue to give and receive benefits, further delaying the fact that they’re no longer ours. All of this ultimately means one thing: We don’t have to deal with the loss of our relationships.
Staying friends is really a dressed up form of denial about your break-up, and it can sabotage your future happiness.
That’s because, in the end, you will end up breaking up TWICE. Once when one of you delivers the news, and again when one of you finds someone new.
Eventually, one of you will move on. He will stop calling every day. He won’t have time to hear those little things you used to share. His affections will be for another, and you will have to sit back and watch as you become second place in his world.
Bottom line: You will become a helpless bystander to your own pain, and he’ll have all the control.
HE will not care about your heartache - he will be out having fun with his new girl.
HE will not offer you support when you are crying your eyes out - it isn’t his problem.
You have basically set yourself up for an emotional crisis, which will probably lead to you cutting off communication so that you can hibernate and begin to heal apart from him.
But you can off-set this suffering by cutting off communication from the beginning, at least until the two of you have sufficiently healed by yourselves.
Below, I offer some advice from friends, each of which have made the mistake of staying friends with exes in the past. It remains difficult advice to swallow, but I am beginning to see their point.
"Whatever happens, you cannot talk to him about her. Better yet, you shouldn't talk to him at all. Are you still calling him? If so, you've got to stop. Also, do not Facebook him. You can't see anymore pictures of him with this new chick or read any of the sappy stuff they write to each other.”
“You won't always need to be #1 in his life, which is just as scary a thought as it is comforting. The thought that you will not need him one day will kick your ass for a while as you try to push it out of your head, but you will wake up one day realizing you've accepted the idea."
"You can't wait on him to really move on. You're trying to hold on mostly because you're trying to protect him at the cost of your own feelings. Ah, the sacrificial nature of a woman. We go to great lengths for the men we love, and we're always self-destructive.
Don't do it.
You're actually more ready than he is right now, he's just found someone to help him get there. A someone that YOU DON’T NEED. Stop protecting him. It's okay for him to hurt!”
“You don't need a man to understand you. And when you realize that, good for you! How wonderful it will feel!”