Is Staying Friends With Your Ex Worth It?

Is Staying Friends With Your Ex Worth It

You probably know at least one person who has proudly declared that they make it a point to stay friends with all their exes. They say it as if it’s an incredible accomplishment that everyone should aspire towards. As if they have that enviable, uncanny ability to put the past behind them and forget pettiness—all in the name of friendship. All while everyone they know rolls their eyes and thanks their lucky stars they don’t feel the need to stay friends with every person they’ve ever been in a relationship with.

When you think of reasons to stay friends with an ex, what comes to mind? A sense of security? Sentimental reasons? Because you genuinely like them as a person and want them to stay in your life? Last year, a study in Personality and Individual Differences found that participants that rated highly in “dark personality traits” like psychopathy and narcissism also named sex and convenience as reasons in favour of staying friends with an ex. They are the types of people who value friendships for what they can get out of them.

That being said, to accuse everyone who stays friends with an ex for the possibility of sex once in awhile of being a psychopath is a little extreme. If you and your ex are on good terms and in agreement with a friends with benefits situation then you both win. It’s a lot more fun to sleep with someone you’re comfortable with than to go out looking for someone new and have to start all over again—at least while you plan to stay single that is.

Staying friends with an ex when you’re dating new people and maybe even looking for a relationship is when it starts to get complicated. Now you have to worry about when, where and how you spend time with your ex, if you want to tell your new flame that your ex is… well, your ex, and dealing with the possibility that not everyone you date is going to be cool with your friendship.

So the question is, is it really worth it? That all depends on how important this friendship is to you and what the motivation behind it is. If you still have feelings for this ex (and you have to be honest with yourself here), it’s probably not a good idea. How are you ever supposed to get over them if you’re still seeing them all the time? If you’re less friends and more acquaintances out of necessity (like you share mutual friends), then all the possible issues that could come with the new person you’re dating can probably be navigated.

That’s another thing—how a new fling reacts to you being friends with your ex can actually tell you a little bit about them. Do they have a jealous streak? How do they deal with the fact that you might have friends of the opposite sex?

So like most things when it comes to relationships, there’s no easy answer to the question, should you stay friends with your ex. There could be potential there for a strong friendship, but it could also be the reason you’re single for a lot longer than you wanted to be. Proceed at your own risk.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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