It’s a toxic trap that’s good for neither of you.
It’s the ultimate question everyone asks themselves after a breakup: can I stay friends with my ex?
While some may argue that it’s not only possible to stay friends with your ex but that you absolutely should, science might be concerned for you. According to a recent study, if you stay friends with your ex you might just be a psychopath or a narcissist.
The study done at Oakland University found that people who stayed friends with an ex post-relationship exhibited “Dark Triad” traits, which include narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism.
All science aside though, I think it’s a terrible idea to stay friends with an ex. (Yay, I’m not a psychopath!) I’m not talking about that “ex” you dated for two weeks in high school, but rather someone you emotionally opened yourself up to. For the sake of your mental health, here are six reasons why you should cut all ties with your ex after your relationship ends.
1. You ended your relationship for a reason
All couples fight, and sometimes you work through your issues and sometimes you don’t. A breakup typically happens when there’s nothing more you can do to make things work between you, whether you’re fighting over trust issues, conflicting values, etc. There’s a reason you ended your relationship, so why put yourself through the same cycle all over again?
You can pretend to put on a smile and talk about surface level things like your favorite Netflix TV show, but having those underlying issues will always be in the back of your mind.
2. Chances are, one of you feels more strongly about the other
Rarely are breakups mutual. It’s always an emotional decision that leaves someone really GD hurt. And if you stay friends, that love you once shared doesn’t just go away. One of you may be holding out hope that if you stay friends the possibility of dating again will be stronger while the other person may not feel that way at all.
When I tried to stay friends with my ex, I would always be the one to text him first, until I realized that there was no point to the friendship if it was a one-sided deal.
3. It can be toxic. You fall back into the same patterns
Sure, you can talk about your families or your favorite Chinese restaurant down the street, but that might feel weird or awkward after awhile. You can pretend that things are casual between you guys, but you reach a certain “breaking” point where things almost have to get real, because you can’t talk about surface-level things forever.
And that’s where these patterns start. You begin picking at each other again, disagreeing about the same things and criticizing each other. It feels all too familiar. This is called a “toxic relationship” and it’s best to just break the cycle and get out before it destroys you.
4. It will be that much harder for both of you to move on
How can you expect to fully move on if you’re still telling your ex little details about your day? How can you go on a date and not feel guilty? While you can try to be friends for a little while post-breakup, there comes a point where you’re both just hindering the other person from meeting someone else.
Plus, if you happened to meet someone you were crazy about, would you really want them still being friends with their ex? Probably not.
5. You need to allow yourself “me” time to recover and know that you’re OK being on your own
One of the toughest thing about a breakup is that you become used to being in sync with another person?—?you tell them everything you’re thinking and you do everything together. But you should never stay in a relationship just because you’re scared of being alone. In fact, in order to be in a healthy relationship, you have to be confident in yourself, otherwise you’ll become co-dependent on someone and lose sense of your individuality.
It can be hard when you end the relationship and your “person” is no longer around, which is why many people try to stay friends with their exes?—?but if you’re doing that just because you can’t bear the thought of being on your own without your other half, you should reevaluate what the friendship means to you.
6. Sometimes people just grow apart
It’s just a fact of life that people change as they go through life. Sometimes you change together as you experience similar highs and lows, but other times, you grow apart. This is true of romantic relationships, childhood best friends, etc.
If I can reference the ultimate love life coach, Beyoncé, here for a hot moment, there’s a part of her monologue in “Lemonade” where she says: “I think of lovers as trees…growing to and from one another. Searching for the same light.” If you are able to grow back together, that’s great. But don’t force yourself to stay friends with someone when there’s just nothing there anymore. People come in and out of our lives for a reason, and we learn from them. Just don’t lose sight of yourself and always maintain self-integrity.