This post was updated on Feb 15, 2023
There are many aspects to divorce and separation that can be complicated and time-consuming. Years may pass before you finally admit that you want to split up. The resulting legal proceedings can then take even longer. Even after signing the divorce papers, the journey is often far from over – it’s up to you to decide how you’d like to move forward. You’ll have to choose whether or not to include your ex in your new life.
Sometimes, ex-spouses can’t avoid contacting each other, mainly for the sake of their children, business and/or friendships. In any scenario, including co-parenting, friendship is just a choice, with both advantages and disadvantages. While no one can decide such matters for divorced couples, we offer a few pointers that can help them make an informed decision.
Is It Normal To Stay Friends With Your Ex?
There is a past between you and your ex partner. As you grew up together, you’ve built an arsenal of memories and experiences that are unique to you. In the wake of your divorce, while you’re still wondering how to accept that your marriage is over, there’s a good chance that you both have a lot of painful AND joyful memories. You can still choose to remain friends if that is what you both want.
Relationships after divorce can be complex, and your unique situation will determine whether or not you can stay friends afterward. The situation is especially challenging for couples who have experienced a bitter divorce. Similarly, if there was abuse or manipulation in the marriage, establishing a friendship too soon after the divorce is not often possible.
Additionally, if you share children, separated parents will likely remain in touch with their former partners for a lifetime. And theoretically, you would have an easier time communicating if you were friends.
Why Does My Ex Want To Stay Friends?
It’s possible to benefit from friendships with your ex-spouse if you have other aspects of the relationship that contributed to your development, growth, or life goals. For instance, if you both realize your strengths make you great business partners, gym buddies, or even friends, and you can respect each other’s boundaries, a healthy divorce may be the right choice for you.
Then again, according to recent studies, most people retain friendships after divorce for the following reasons – keep in mind that these reasons are not always healthy for some people:
1. Security & Safety
Being friends with an ex-partner to not lose his or her emotional support, guidance, or trust. The most common reason people turn to ex-partners is because they’re used to having a solid support system from them.
2. Practical Reasons
Keeping in touch with the ex-partner in order to maintain financial support or the social status they once enjoyed as a couple. Also, in many cases, people remain friends after a divorce because they have children together or share belongings.
3. Good Manners
Staying friends solely out of courtesy, for the sake of not hurting the other person’s feelings, to prevent more conflict, because you have mutual friends in your community, or for some other reason.
4. Unresolved Romantic Feelings
Keeping the friendship because you want companionship, to maintain the sexual contact, and because you still hope to rekindle a romantic relationship.
Is It Healthy To Keep In Touch With An Ex?
Once you end an intimate relationship, you are often left with a mixed bag of emotions. It’s common to feel anger, confusion, regret, or sadness, and knowing how to deal with them can be tricky. Though reaching out to an ex may seem tempting, doing so too soon can lead to additional challenges, given the psychological and emotional effects of divorce.
When you end a relationship with someone, you must let go of the closeness you once shared. The importance of taking time to work through your feelings and heal cannot be overstated when one relationship has come to an end. So, don’t rush the grieving process. Instead, get in touch with your closest friends and family, and let them know how you’re doing.
What To Do If An Ex Wants To Be Friends?
Breakups take time to heal. In some cases, this process takes only a few weeks or months, while in others, it can take years. This is a tough truth to accept, however, it’s crucial that you do what’s right for you. Making this difficult decision requires you to follow these steps:
Step #1: Decide If You Want That Person Back In Your Life
There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not you should remain friends with your ex-spouse. How contentious the divorce was plays a role in whether or not you stay friends after divorce. You may have difficulty trusting an ex if they weren’t cooperative and tried to undermine your credibility constantly.
Step #2: Take Your Time
Separation involves many emotional stages. Your marriage ended for a variety of reasons, so if you aren’t ready for a friendship, don’t rush into it. This may be due to different interests, trust issues, betrayal, poor communication, and many other factors. Organizing a weekly dinner or a game night with your kids may be a good way to spend time together.
Step #3: Set Healthy Boundaries
There should be a sense of joy in friendships. If your friendship with your ex doesn’t serve you or add value to your life, there’s no reason to maintain it. In case your primary emotion relating to your ex has anything to do with fear, fatigue, heartache, or confusion, you don’t have to continue to interact with them just because they were once your partner.
Can A Relationship Coach Help Me Deal With Separation?
If you’ve recently gone through a divorce or separation, PIVOT can provide you with experience-based individual coaching sessions that will help you battle divorce anxiety and increase self-care and self-awareness. You’ll gain a new perspective on life’s challenges as you learn to track unhealthy patterns of behavior, which will allow you to build more healthy relationships with yourself and others.
Couples looking to mend their relationship after a breakup, or those considering second marriage, are encouraged to meet with relationship advocates in our Glass House sessions to ease tension and develop effective communication skills. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services and what we can do for you.