You’ve shared memories that will either make you laugh or cry, and it’s time to take your experiences, put them in your back pocket and move on. But somewhere on the road to parting ways, couples may feel the need to promise to stay friends.
When you go through a break-up, it can feel like there’s a hole in your social life, and that hole can take time to fill. If you’re feeling lonely on a Saturday night, having your ex over for a movie and pizza might sound more appealing than making the effort to go out and meet new people. But it can also lead you onto the on-again/off-again relationship rollercoaster, which research suggests is characterized by lower satisfaction, less love, more uncertainty, and more communication problems. It’s understandable to miss the intimacy of a romantic relationship, but putting yourself in the danger zone of hooking up with an ex may not be worth the short-term comfort.
You realise it really is over, but sometimes you need just one more night of passion so you can both figure out if you’re still soulmates.
Maybe the passion and sexual chemistry between the two of you still exists, unless lack of attraction was the reason for your breakup. This is a recipe for disaster because it means that every time you get together under this new “friendship” premise, the lust and passion you have makes it more likely that you’ll end up in another “goodbye” sex session. This brings you right back to square one just when you were doing so well.
“It seemed like old times at first, but then afterward it got awkward,” says Nicole. “We had nothing to say to each other! We literally just talked about the weather. It was just really, REALLY over.”
You’ve shared an incredibly intimate part of yourself, but now you’re no longer together, don’t have ex sex, or you’ll never move on. You also need to stay out of your ex’s new dating life. You cannot be each other’s confidants as it sends you both back into an intimacy zone, which makes it harder to move on with someone else. This boundary has to be set if you want a friendship.
Ultimately though, there will always be bitterness from one side. Since breakups are rarely joint decisions, one party will always feel resentment toward the other. You’re better to leave the friendship behind … along with the memories.
And yet for some, navigating the murky waters of staying in touch with an ex is actually a great sign. Those who can stay friends with a former love are the most mature, satisfied partners among us — and the ones coming from romances that were built on real friendship.