In our age of social media, it can be easier than ever to stay in touch with your ex, long after you break up. Heck, I still regularly converse with guys I dated back in high school over Facebook. But what about a real life friendship with an ex from not so long ago? After all, you still have a lot in common–and still travel in the same circles, meaning you’re going to run into him regardless. Is it okay to stay friends? Or are you just setting yourself up for future disaster?
We asked Allison Pescosolido, M.A. and Andra Brosh, Ph.D., co-founders of Divorce Detox.. They suggest that first you clearly define what you mean by the word “friend.”
“Running in the same circles and having things in common does not always equate with friendship,” they say. “Remain amicable whenever possible but re-define the relationship so there is no confusion about how you will interact. We recommend staying away from intimate encounters and sharing personal information to avoid any confusion or bad feelings.”
And that means setting boundaries from the beginning so you’ll be sure to retain a healthy friendship and resist the temptation to backslide into that unhealthy relationship.
“Be friendly but not transparent to avoid any sense of false intimacy,” they suggest. “Maintain a distant relationship and stay away from late night phone calls, excessive communication, or cute texting. Avoid anything you used to do when you were a couple.”
Of course once you start dating someone new, expect a wrench to be thrown in the so-called friendship. Especially if your new significant other starts feeling threatened–and you start feeling divided loyalties.
“Your new loyalty is to your current relationship so it’s important to respect your new partner’s wishes,” insist Pescosolido and Brosh. “If they are feeling insecure than maybe it’s time to check in on the appropriateness of your relationship with your ex. If you’re doing it right, a new significant other shouldn’t feel threatened (unless they are extremely insecure). Your ex should understand.”
But what if it’s you who’s feeling threatened, by your ex’s new girl? And you find you can’t stop feeling those pangs of jealousy every time he chooses her over you?
“That’s a trigger and a big red flag that you need to get some professional help to move on,” say the Divorce Detox founders. “You might also want to consider the possibility that you are keeping your ex in your life because you still have hope of a reconciliation. A new partner is a sign that he has moved on….and you should, too. Keep this information to yourself and get professional help. This is your problem, not his.”