Do you ever ask, “should you stay friends with your ex?” It’s a tricky question for many of us, especially if we haven’t truly identified our own intentions or feelings.
Most modern relationships start with two people having a relationship history. Whether it’s extensive, short or eclectic, our relationship past is usually complicated and sometimes hard to understand.
When starting a new relationship, I have found that some couples struggle with how to approach the topic of their ex-partners. Some clients find themselves sustaining relationships with their ex’s, while others are completely against it. Some clients find themselves worried about boundaries with ex-relationships and have an internal conflict with compromising this previous connection.
When is it inappropriate to stay connected to an ex? In what capacity is it acceptable to remain “connected” to an ex? When are you compromising yourself and your own values when starting a new relationship that has a different philosophy? When is it time to full end your relationship with an ex?
In my professional opinion, I am going to give you a rather vague answer to these questions. It depends. I used to hate when my professors in grad school would say that, but sometimes that’s all you can say. Although this answer is ambiguous, I have learned as a therapist how to appreciate that simplistic, yet confusing answer. It really does depend. Every person is different, every relationship is different, every scenario has its own complications and complexities. All I ask, do your own homework.
If you find it is important to maintain relationships with your ex’s, please take a moment to reflect and ask yourself why. Are there any subconscious possibilities that have caused you to want to leave the door slightly open just in case? Do you worry about having enemies or anyone from your past having a negative perspective about you? Did you have a ex or two that weren’t good romantic partners, but still show up for you as a friend?
Regardless of your scenario, I think it is important that you be extremely honest with yourself when asking why you maintain relationship(s) with your ex(s). The first two examples may have the tendency to lead you in some relational trouble in the future, (if it hasn’t already).
Across the board, I feel the following is a good rule of thumb when attempting to establish healthy boundaries and appropriate scenarios with your new partner, as well as with your ex’s:
Of course there are many more scenarios, as well as other complications I did not discuss. With that being said, just try to remember that not all relationships with ex’s are “bad” or “disrespectful” to your new partner, but they can (and will) cause issues within yourself and/or in your new relationship if you aren’t reflecting and understanding of your own intentions.