Florence Pugh, Zach Braff and When It’s Okay to Be Friends with Your Ex
Zach Braff and Florence Pugh may have split last fall, but it seems the pair have remained friendly. They posed together on the red carpet at the premiere of their film A Good Person this month, and Braff wished Pugh a happy birthday in January.
But is it a good idea to be friends with your ex?
It depends. The most important things to keep in mind are setting boundaries, making time for yourself, and knowing when it’s okay to end the friendship.
“The truth is, you broke up for a reason,” says Cecille Ahrens, a licensed clinical social worker. “While healthy, platonic friendship after a breakup is possible, it’s not easy to achieve either.”
When being friends with your ex is a good idea
The best romantic relationships are rooted in friendships. Just because a romantic spark is ignited doesn’t mean a friendship should fall apart.
“It’s perfectly fine to be friends with an ex, especially if there are personality traits or similarities in worth and experience that brought the people together in the first place,” says Maryanne Fisher, a psychology professor at St. Mary’s University in Canada.
A friendship, especially after a long relationship, can help people process the breakup. “For some people, staying friends with an ex can be a healthy way to maintain a connection and process lingering emotions or unresolved issues,” says Miranda Nadeau, a licensed psychologist.
Additionally, “Psychological research shows that people who remain friends with their ex-boyfriends tend to report higher levels of personal growth and satisfaction with their life after the breakup.”
When being friends with your ex is a bad idea
If you’re trying to be friends with your ex just to stay in their life — and hope they’ll come to their senses and want to get back together — it’s not the best choice.
“If you have any form of unresolved romantic feelings toward them, that will never be appropriate,” says Raquel Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist.
The same is true when it comes to control: “It can be damaging if one party hopes to use friendship to reinsert themselves into each other’s lives or destroy future romantic relationships,” says Fisher.
Even if no romantic feelings are involved, you may still feel territorial about who your ex is dating.
Keep in mind that if you are in a relationship with your ex, your current partner may also feel uncomfortable.
What to consider before staying friends with your ex
- limits. Don’t want to hear about your ex’s life, who are they dating? Probably a sign to keep your distance.
- Build in some transition time. That doesn’t mean a few weeks. Try months. “You’re used to having some level of support or that extra person to talk to or that first person to text and you don’t have them anymore – that’s going to come with an adjustment.” , says Martin.
- You can be “friendly” without being “friends”. “If you both decide to be friends, you should both be able to respect the new boundaries and expectations of the relationship and be able to thrive on each other,” says Ahrens.
- Don’t hold on to the past. “You can’t build a relationship out of nostalgia,” says Martin.
- Be honest with your current partner. “Showing a new partner that there’s nothing deceptive or hidden will help them feel more comfortable,” says Fisher.
- Think about your ex’s motivations. Maybe they want to keep you on the back burner, “but they also want to date other people,” says Martin, “and they still do it in such a way that you’re not able to be emotionally available to other people.” Also: “If your ex mistreated you, cheated on you, or ended the relationship in a particularly painful way, by staying connected with that person you are making yourself vulnerable again,” says Virginia Williamson, a licensed marriage and family therapist.
- There are other fish in the sea. Just because the relationship was good doesn’t mean you won’t find that elsewhere.
In general, however, you should ask yourself. “If you want to be friends with an ex, it’s important to first be honest with yourself about your motivations and feelings,” says Nadeau. “If you find that friendship with your ex is causing more pain than joy, it may be time to reevaluate the friendship and consider ending it.”
More relationship tips:
Good question:“Is it weird if I want to be friends with my boyfriend’s ex?”
An explainer:What is romance? And why do I keep doing this because of my ex?
Why am I still clinging to my ex?The answer is more complicated than you think.
Important:Dating after divorce is complicated. what you need to know