I’ll go right ahead and say it: I’m not a fan of staying friends with your ex. I always recommend a clean break. Unless you’re co-parenting, have a business together, or some other form of commitment to one another outside of your romantic relationship, you should just let your exes go.
I do understand that in some cases your ex is a wonderful person who you cherish and that letting go of the friendship you have together is really hard. You may fancy yourself a friendly person and believe that you can still add value to each others’ lives, even without the romantic attachment.
While in some rare cases this is true, for most, a friendship with your ex keeps a door open to a possible reconnection. Opposite-sex friendships are complex enough. Having to maintain a friendship with someone who you’ve been emotionally and physically connected to just makes it more complicated.
If you’ve recently gotten into a new relationship (or are generally considering keeping an ex as a friend), you may want to ask yourself the questions below to figure out if you really are “just friends.”
1. Does The Ex Still Give You Butterflies?
Let’s start with the basics. You know the feeling you get when someone texts you and you get excited? Or when you see someone who you haven’t seen in a while? That feeling of butterflies in your stomach or your heart sinking into your chest? Or how about when you have that feeling of attraction to someone that just physically pulls you to them?
If you’re still having those physical sensations towards your ex, you are not just friends.
2. How Authentic Are You In Your Friendship With The Ex?
You know how, when you talk to a friend, you give them the low down on your life? When you share with them authentically, nothing is off topic.
So ask yourself. Do you share with your ex the same way that you share with your friends or do you omit some details? Are you omitting details because you’re being sensitive to their feelings or because you feel guilty?
If you’re not authentically sharing your life with an ex, they’re not your friend.
3. Would You Introduce Your Ex To Your Current Partner?
This one is a biggie. All of my real friends have met my partner. We go to friends’ birthday parties together or we’ll meet out for drinks because, again, when you’re authentic about your life, there’s nothing to hide.
If you don’t think you can introduce your current partner to an ex who you consider a friend, you and the ex are not just friends.
4. Is The Ex Your Back Up Plan?
Is there some part of you that considers your ex a plan B? We all have that person who we know is always an option. Maybe you’re keeping your options open just in case.
If that is the case, you and the ex are not just friends. If there’s even a glimmer of hope that you could one day rekindle your relationship, they’re not your friend. They’re a distraction.
5. Do You And Your Ex Behave As Friends?
When you move on, are they genuinely happy for you? Are you happy for them when they meet someone new? When you do share with them about someone new, do they get emotional, angry or defensive? Can you depend on their support for you? Is the relationship one sided? If you got drunk would you sleep with them? If they got married would you attend the wedding?
Everyone’s definition of friendship is different. After all, Facebook has given a whole new meaning to the term and you can now be “friends” with a total stranger. But to me, friendship means that you are there for one another, honest with one another and share in each other’s life.