Staying friends with my ex is what I want to do.”
Staying friends with your ex seems nice but is it really a good idea? You have to decide for yourself but I’m not so sure. Let’s take a look at some things to consider before you decide staying friends with your ex is what’s best for you.
Three Reasons People Want to Stay Friends with Their Ex
Here are some reasons people tell me they would like to stay friends with their former spouse:
- We need to stay friends for the children.
- I still love my ex.
- My ex has been my best friend for years.
- I want a peaceful relationship with my ex.
Do you see yourself in that list?
Exploring the Risks
Let’s take a look at each of the reasons above to see what makes staying friends a questionable idea.
We Need to Stay Friends for the Children
Staying cordial with one another and communicating well enough to effectively co-parent is definitely to the benefit of your children. Being civil to one another whether at your children’s events, or in working out transitions between households relieves a lot of stress for your kids. But, being able to work together for the good of your children doesn’t necessitate an actual friendship.
Consider that friendships entail an emotional involvement that may not be good for your children or you. Why? Well, if you and your ex are acting like friends you may be doing your children an injustice. Sharing your day, discussing life’s challenges, and socializing together may give your children false hope that you will be reunited in marriage. When this doesn’t happen, kids once again experience a loss.
I Still Love My Ex
One of the great challenges of healing the pain of divorce is being able to let go of emotional bonds. Breaking the bonds of marriage can be very difficult, especially if you don’t want the divorce. Trying to maintain a friendship with your ex can be emotionally confusing to you and stifle your ability to let go of the past and heal.
My Ex has Been My Best Friend for Years
It is hard to let go, even when the other person has made it clear they no longer want to be married to you. Trying to stay friends may seem like it will make the break up easier. It likely won’t and may even make it harder.
Prolonging the process of letting go of your spouse can create confusion for the two of you. It complicates the dynamics of your current relationship as two people who are no longer married to each other. Since moving beyond divorce means letting go, making a defining break rather than dragging it out makes sense.
Hanging on to friendship with your former spouse even when reconciliation is not possible also has the potential to interfere with future relationships. Think about it. Would you want to become romantically involved with someone who is still close to a former spouse? Probably not.
I Want a Peaceful Relationship
No doubt, experiencing grief and tension in a relationship is exhausting. But, being at peace with one another isn’t necessarily the same thing as being friends. In fact, there are times when space actually makes for the most peaceful relationship.
If Not Friends then What?
A defining break says, I am me, you are you, and we are no longer us.
Finding life after divorce involves breaking your emotional ties to your ex and establishing your own identity as a single person. Having a civil working relationship with your ex is important for the good of your children but don’t confuse that with friendship. Once your relationship is redefined as two independent adults you improve your chances of having a cordial relationship that is not confused by the past.
Peace after Divorce Help
Finding your way to a peaceful and joyful life after divorce isn’t easy but you don’t have to do it alone.
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Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV
Post edited and updated on June 2, 2021.