Why You’re Only Hurting Yourself by Remaining Friends

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Because our nervous system is wired to need others, rejection is painful. Romantic rejection especially hurts. — Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT

Many people would like to remain friends with their exes even after the nastiest of breakups. After all, it’s only natural to want to be near the person who you have grown close to and who made you happy once upon a time. However, continuing to be friends with your ex can have damaging effects on both the already deteriorating relationship as well as your fragile state of mind. Here’s why.  

  1. Everyone Needs Their Space

Your relationship most likely ended because of things that were said and done either by yourself or by your partner that the other person didn’t like. Even if you have the best intentions when you leave the relationship and attempt to continue your friendship, one of you or both of you will still be holding onto those issues and will act on those resentments while you’re trying to mend your friendship. Don’t pursue a friendship immediately after a relationship ends. Everyone needs space and time to get over the things that bothered them before they can consider being friends.  

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  1. Nothing Will Be the Same

When are in a relationship with someone, you expect certain things from them. You expect them to give you some individual attention, you expect them to be open and honest with you, you expect them to show their affection, and you expect them to devote as much time and energy as they can to you. Friendship is different. The expectations that you have for a friendship with your ex is nothing like the expectations that you had during the relationship with your ex. People can easily get hurt when the relationship dynamic changes and it will end up creating hostile situations between both parties that will ruin any chances of cultivating a friendship.  

People who are psychologically resilient after breakups are unafraid of being single. The hangers-on are more likely to be afraid of being single. — Bella DePaulo Ph.D.

  1. You’re Prolonging the Healing Process

Let’s imagine for a moment that you had a puppy. You loved your puppy with all of your heart and you did everything in your power to make sure that the puppy was taken care of and happy. You and your puppy established a deep connection that you knew no other puppy could manage to have with you. However, you and your puppy were playing in your front yard one day and your puppy ran into the middle of the street and was tragically struck by a car. Let’s also imagine that you captured this heartbreaking moment on camera. Would you choose to watch this video every day and experience the same pain and trauma that you dealt with when it happened? 

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If you said no, then why would you want to remain friends with your ex? Why would you want to see them and put yourself through that pain every day? Whether it is you who broke up with your ex or vice versa, you have essentially lost that person and the relationship that came along with them. You need to give yourself time to mourn the loss of that relationship and to move onto better things in your life that do not involve your ex. By trying to hold onto that person, you are making the choice to prolong your grief and hurt yourself rather than making the choice to let go and move on.   

We get the sense of confidence in our ability to not only survive a breakup but to triumph as a healthy person with the skills to have a healthy love relationship. And our friends will be happy too. —

Letting go is a difficult part of life, especially if the person who you are trying to let go of is still someone who you can contact. If you begin to feel as though you need to remain friends with your ex or if you’re feelings start to become overpowering, revisit this article to remind yourself why being friends with your ex is a bad idea.  




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