When you hear the word “ghost,” you probably picture a misty something gliding through the attic rafters. But in a romantic relationship, there is another, potentially sinister being called an “ex.” “Out of sight, out of heart” is a rule that often saves you from a long string of local-universal dramas, but there are some people who still want adventure.
Why is being friends with an ex a bad idea? Let’s break it down.
Connecting with an ex can feed a false hope that you may someday be able to be together again. Even if you know the ex isn’t your prince and communicating with him can cause serious problems.
Loneliness, confusion, grief, and anger come to you at the end of a relationship, but they gradually fade and each new encounter can trigger them with renewed vigor. If the relationship was long, you’re likely to feel vulnerable, and that’s the risk of falling into emotional or sexual dependence on your ex: to feel better, whole again. But a breakup is a breakup, and the healing process will have to start all over again each time.
You’ll start comparing each new candidate to your ex.
Either way, that day will come, and it will happen much sooner and more often if you do keep constant communication with your ex. Give the new relationship a chance! You had your chance, it didn’t work out. It’s time to let go of that ghost.
You can start romanticizing the past relationship, forget all the bad things you had and focus on the good things.
Yes, that’s how our brain works. We quickly forget the bad stuff so we don’t get sad or sick. But! All the shit that went on between you guys isn’t going anywhere, and if you “give the relationship another chance,” it will quickly start happening again. Try some resistance methods: write down your saddest moments and save them in your notes, reread them whenever you want to get together. Sign his number in your phone and chats “Don’t you dare!” or ask a friend to remind you of the bad things that have happened to you/you the moment you start focusing on the good ones.
The new guy may feel uncomfortable when you talk or spend time with your ex.
A new relationship is so shaky… You’re just getting to know each other, getting used to each other, and your ex on the horizon will make your new friend think there are still feelings (and maybe sex?) between you and your ex. That would be damaging to trust and understanding.
Is it really that bad and there’s no such thing as friendship after a relationship? There is, but there are a number of conditions and rules for that.
If the relationship ended without conflict, you both no longer want a romantic relationship, you live apart and build a new relationship – then perhaps you can become friends instead of lovers. In this case, you need to follow a few rules:
- “Grieving period“: give each other time to mourn the death of the relationship. The longer you’ve been together, the more time it will take before you’re ready to be friends. It could be two months, it could be two years – you’ll feel it when the time comes, you’ll know, because you’ll both be ready for it.
- No sex! Also, say no to kissing, flirting, walking hand in hand. Never. Not even after a night out.
- Set clear emotional boundaries. You’ve already talked enough about your feelings, so now keep it simple with your ex without too much emotional entanglement. If you want to be friends with him – then you have common interests. That’s what you talk about – clothes, music, anything, but no snot and no psychology!
- Look for a love life: go out with other guys. If you’re only pretending to be friends with your ex, expecting him to fall in love with you again, then it’s not a real friendship, and it needs to wind down. That said, you shouldn’t discuss your new boyfriends with your ex either – that could complicate things. We agreed no complicated emotions, remember?
- No analysis of your past relationships! Never. Do it with other friends, your therapist, or your journal. Focus on your friendship instead.
In general, ending a relationship is always unpleasant. Whichever continuation option you choose, remember: the most important thing is awareness and taking care of yourself; you’ve had enough trouble. The next one will probably be better.