Should You Stay Mates With Your Ex?

Categories Lifestyle

The pros and cons of maintaining contact with that ‘special one’ you just broke up…

Unless your relationship ends with a suitcase of your clothes being doused in petrol and set alight on the front lawn, most break-ups contain these words: “Let’s stay friends”. But is remaining mates with a former partner really such a good idea? And besides, how is it even possible?


These are obvious, right? The trauma surrounding the break-up. The fact that one side of the break-up often has unfinished business, or a sense of resentment towards the person who broke it off. The acknowledgement that your relationship will never be what it once was, and that staying mates won’t help you miss the other person any less. The difficulty of moving on to another partner while a former one is still in your life. The bitter taste in your mouth whenever you visit your favourite cafe because it’s tainted with memories of them. Plus, you’re exes for a reason — something broke down in the relationship, and is often beyond repair.


Despite the obvious push factors, there is a lot of pull in favour of remaining friends. Have you ever been on a first date where the other person complained endlessly about their crazy ex (or, worse, long line of crazy exes)? Bet you thought they were the crazy one, still hung up on their former partner. Don’t be that guy when you enter a new relationship — and maintaining a friendship with your ex can help you move forward with a positive mindset. There are also pragmatic reasons to keep things civil — long-term relationships build up intertwined groups of friends that feel awkward if forced to choose between you and your ex… let alone the task of having to split custody of any children, pets, or beloved DVD collections. Plus, you guys used to be close — that’s a valuable friend to keep, if possible.


After you’ve had some time to cool off — a freshly broken heart isn’t particularly receptive to friendship with the person who just shattered it — the key is to establish firm boundaries that build a wall between friendship and any romantic feelings that threaten to re-emerge. Well, at least that’s the key until Apple installs a breathalyser on the iPhone that prevents you from texting ex-partners while under the influence. Staying mates just because of lingering attraction or the faint hope you might one day end up back together leads to an on-again off-again spiral isn’t healthy for anyone, and destroys any chance of establishing a trustworthy relationship with a new partner on anything resembling solid ground. Place your intentions under the microscope before you reach out to a former partner — loneliness, laziness and horniness are bad reasons to stay mates with an ex.