There are many great questions mankind is looking for answers to. Do aliens exist? Is there an afterlife? How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? While many men and women have tried, and failed, I’ve decided to try to solve one of society’s most puzzling questions: Should you be friends with your ex?
I’m no expert on relationships or love. If anything I’m more clueless than the average person and seriously unqualified to be writing this. So I decided to ask the people around me. I started with one of my male friends, Kyle. He’s friends with one of his exes, who happens to be one of my best friends.
“Being friends with your ex is entirely based upon how you break up,” he said. A mutual breakup typically makes it easier to be friends, because there’s naturally less feelings involved if both people in the relationship wanted to end it. This was the case with his ex he’s currently friends with.
As far as his friends’ breakups, Kyle said he’s never seen anything go too bad where he felt that both people involved in the relationship couldn’t be friends. “Nothing too bad has happened with my friends... There’s never been anything too malicious or vitriolic,” he said.
Ultimately, Kyle believes it’s up to you. “If you want to be friends with your ex, you can probably make it happen. If you don’t want to be friends with your ex, that’s probably easier,” he said.
I also spoke with my friend Katie. Katie is currently in her first relationship, so she’s never had to worry about being friends with an ex. She’s always been a good person to go to for advice, though, so I trust her judgement. Overall, as long as no one was treated poorly in the relationship, Katie said you should be friends with your ex. “I don’t see why you should cut someone out of your life that you shared so many positive memories with, unless those memories weren’t positive,” she said.
Katie said the biggest barrier to being friends with your ex is jealousy. She said problems arise when “you’re on Facebook or social media stalking them and you see them with someone else.” While jealousy is natural, it shouldn’t be your only reason for not being friends with your ex. “If you really cared about that person, you’d just want to see that person happy,” she said.
If a relationship ended on good terms and you can get over any negative feelings, Katie said you should be friends. “You don’t have to be best friends but you shouldn’t hold a grudge. That just makes things awkward for both parties,” she said.
Next I went the person who’s been my go-to through every breakup: my mom. Admittedly, not being a college student in her 20’s gives her a very different perspective on the issue. She said once you start a career and, further down the road, a family, there’s not really a need to be friends with an ex. “I can’t see that fitting in anywhere in your adult life,” she said.
My mom said, in most cases, being friends with your ex isn’t necessary. “I usually think they’re your ex for a reason,” she said, mentioning neither her or my dad are friends with any of their exes. She also believes it’s not fair to a current partner to be friends with an ex.
My mom said staying friends with an ex can be a stumbling block to a new relationship. “If you’re still friends with an ex or corresponding with an ex, that could hamper your ability to get into the right relationship, or give you more experience at least,” she said. While attraction can also complicate a friendship with an ex, my mom said she thinks you’re not bound to be attracted to the same person forever. “What could be really endearing about someone could be really annoying down the road,” she said, with a laugh.
So far, my results are pretty inconclusive. I got one vote for “if you want,” one vote for “yes,” and one vote for “no.” Scratching my head, I decided to go straight to the source. Yup, I talked to my ex Josh about whether or not people should be friends with their exes. Our breakup is fairly recent and part of the inspiration for this article. I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but there’s also no hard feelings.
Agreeing with most of what has been said, Josh said it depends largely on how the breakup happened and how both people feel about each other. He said many times, people try to be friends with their exes because they have a lot of mutual friends. “You don’t want things to be weird or to be awkward,” he said. “Many times, it’s easier to be friends after a breakup if you were friends before you dated.”
On the other hand, Josh said people generally won’t be friends with their ex because it’s not worth it to continue a platonic relationship. “If you don’t try to contribute anything afterwards, why is it worth [a friendship?]” he said.
Your friends’ reactions to your breakup can also influence whether you try to be friends with your ex. “If your friends tell you not to hang out, you’re probably less likely to hang out,” Josh said.
He said moving on from a past relationship is a big part of getting over attraction and being able to be friends. Between hanging out with other people and taking more time for you.
“When you start getting busy again and focusing on other things, that attraction decreases,” he said.
So, after all this searching, what have I learned? I think it’s entirely possible to be friends with an ex, but not guaranteed. It all depends on the two people involved. Leaving the past in the past is essential. If you’re looking at being friends as a means to get back together, don’t bother. If you’re going to continue looking at yourselves as a pair and not individuals, don’t bother. Don’t drive yourself crazy either. If you don’t like being around that person, don’t do it. Just to be clear, if you’re bitter, hurt or hung-up, those are normal human emotions and that’s completely fine. But it means you probably shouldn’t try to have a friendship with that person. However, if both of you are at peace with how things are and there’s no grudges or hurt feelings, I say go for it.
Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.