'Should I be staying friends with my ex?' These 5 points will help you decide

Illustration. Photo by Getty Images
Illustration. Photo by Getty Images

You loved each other and things were great, but now they've ended. You've had the conversation where you talk about being friends. And now that we are going through a pandemic, you're lonelier than ever and thinking about the ex — a lot.

It may seem like a good idea to stay as friends because you don't want to let this person go, or you're kind of hoping there will be a friends-with-benefits situation sometime in the future.  

But is this okay? Is it healthy? 

READ MORE: 'I fell in love with my cousin's fake boyfriend, they were trying to make her ex jealous' - Woman married 28 years

We spoke to Nadia Thonnard from The South African Divorce Support Association (SADSA) about what being friends with your ex can mean and if it's a good idea. 

And, well, it's complicated. 

"Honestly, there is no right or wrong. Everyone is different and so is every relationship," says Nadia.  

"While some people remain friends, because they were friends first and foremost and the friendship hasn't changed despite the relationship ending, for others, remaining friends is only extending the toxicity or co-dependence on a relationship which didn't work out."

READ MORE: Woman married 14 years: 'He booked a marriage appointment at Home Affairs instead of proposing'

It comes down to what your motivation is for wanting to stay friends with your ex. Is it because you've been gaslighted into keeping this person in your life? Do you have a child that you share and are trying to co-parent? Or was this amicable, and you know you're not right as a couple, but you do still genuinely care for each other and want to remain friends?

Nadia has designed a model called "My Blueprint," which has five elements that help people understand themselves, their motivations, triggers, and how to create change in their lives.

The five elements which you should think about deeply are:

1 - Our perceived reality- what you are experiencing right now?

2 - Our ideal reality — what do you really want?

3 - Our emotional scales — balance what you currently have against what you want

4 - Our behaviour — what are you doing in response to your psychological scales?

5 - Our basic needs — these are the needs that motivate your behaviour?

READ MORE: In love since she was 13: Woman married for 40 years is proof you don’t need a grand proposal

"So I wouldn't ask if it's okay to stay friends with my ex, instead, I would ask myself what is motivating me to stay friends with my ex? With the latter, you can explore the driving force behind the choice you are about to make and consider whether it is a responsible choice or not," Nadia says.

What about sex with the ex? Should you? Shouldn't you?

Nadia says it's not necessarily a bad thing. 

"If communication is clear and both adults are consenting responsibly with an understanding that sex is a need that needs to be satisfied, then anyone can engage in responsible sex without commitment. If emotions are part of the mix and there is an underlying unresolved need for trying to get back together or hold on to one another, then yes, it will complicate things."

READ MORE: Woman shares how Tinder boyfriend’s ‘worst ever’ marriage proposal eventually led to their breakup

There are boundaries no one should cross, but they are personal for everyone.

Nadia says friendships are about unconditional love and trust. "If these lack, then you need to ask yourself what is motivating you to remain friends with your ex. And what is acceptable to one person may not be acceptable to another," Nadia says. 

READ MORE: Love and coronavirus: It could bring you closer, but there's a risk of increased domestic violence

One thing to consider, especially in the current climate, if he's not checking on you during lockdown, he's probably not worth it, and you should move on. 

Have you ever reconnected with an ex? We'd love to hear how it went, tell us about it here.

During the 21-day lockdown, Nadia is running a #Covid-19 promotion. For R150, you'll get a 45-minute Skype consultation to talk about cabin fever symptoms. Check out the SADSA Facebook page.

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