The Ex-Factor : Should You Remain Friends With Your Former Lover?

Things might not have worked out between you romantically, but when you say, ‘Let’s be friends,’ should you mean it? The decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, but there can be benefits to swapping romance for friendship. Here’s our guide to the pros and cons…

Pros

1. Severing ties with an ex can mean waving goodbye to all your mutual friends too. If you keep things friendly, you’ll retain a heap of pals and won’t have to miss out on all hearing about all their milestones and gossip. Having a large pool of friends will increase your chances of meeting someone new too.

2.
No one knows you like a boyfriend or girlfriend does, especially if you’ve had a long relationship. When you need some advice – about work, friends or even what to buy your mum for her birthday – sometimes a former partner can be useful as a sounding board. Perhaps steer clear of discussing your love life, though!

3. Even though you can’t stand the sight of your ex, you can’t always avoid them. If you work together, live near each other or have lots of mates in common, you save a lot of awkwardness by keeping things civil. And if you happen to have children together too, it’s best for everyone if you can have a chat without it turning into a blazing row.

4. Sometimes a romantic relationship ends because the spark burns out, and what’s left is a friendship, plain and simple. If you and your ex get on famously but just don’t fancy each other anymore, it can be a shame to throw all that away just because you used to be together.

5. It may seem bizarre, but staying friends with an ex may give you a sense of closure and help you move on. Once you’ve made the decision to break up, the more you spend time together, the more you may realise you were just plain wrong as couple. If he’s just a memory, on the other hand, you risk idealising your former relationship.

Cons

1. If you like your friends to know every detail about you, then think again about palling up with your ex. If they still hold a torch for you – no matter how small – it’s unlikely you’ll be able to share the nitty-gritty about any new love interests without hurting their feelings.

2. If there’s a new fella or lady in your life, you have to prioritise their interests. And some people get a bit funny about an ex hanging around on the scene. For the sake of your new relationship, it makes sense to leave former partners in the past and focus your attention on your new flame.

3. Break-ups are messy enough already without complicating it further by clinging on to a friendship. If you stay in contact, you risk blurring the lines, especially if you still fancy each other. Too many glasses of wine and a drunken snog later and you won’t know which way is up.

4. You may be over them, but can you really hear about your ex’s new conquest without a twinge of envy and annoyance that they’ve moved on first? However bad the relationship was, the thought of a former fling with someone else can be painful and make you waste unnecessary energy on being competitive. Cut them out of your life and you won’t be faced with the gory details.

5. Staying friends with an ex can make it harder to find someone new. Constantly being reminded of your past can hold you back, and you may find yourself comparing everyone to him. And if you’re both single, you might not bother looking for someone else, because your emotional needs are still being met with your regular cosy chats.

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