It’s common knowledge that a breakup may be difficult, and that sifting through your feelings during that time can feel like an enormous chore.
Due to the complexity of modern relationships, many people find themselves asking, “Should I stay friends with my ex?”
The comedian and actor Lenny Henry recently spoke about his romance with ex-wife Dawn French in a new interview, and his warm praise for her makes it clear that the two remain close despite their 2010 divorce.
During “the worst of times,” he says, “we used comedy as weapon and shield.” This is an excerpt from his new book, which was published in The Sunday Times. “For the first time in my life, my intellect was present, alert, and working as a partner in a friendship or romance. To put it another way, I was madly in love.
French remarked in 2017 that he was “amazed by us” since the couple, who have a kid, “seemed to have switched with reasonable ease from a 25-year marriage to an enduring relationship.”
Naturally, not every breakup has to result in the two parties going their separate ways and never speaking again. Following a breakup with a romantic partner, many people are able to move on to a healthy and fulfilling friendship with one another.
However, how do you do this? When is it okay to remain cordial with an ex, and how do you know?
Amicable’s divorce coach Bec Jones weighs the benefits and drawbacks of maintaining cordial relations with an ex-spouse.
I’m curious about the advantages.
When a couple breaks up, there are often a lot more things then the bed and the apartment that need to be sorted up. This includes things like the kids, the friends, and even the pets.
However, if you can maintain cordial connections with your ex, it will be much simpler to handle the logistics of your combined social circles. Jones argues that maintaining cordial connections is necessary for “entering into good, co-parenting relationships with each other” in the event of a divorce with children.
The children will see that you still have a solid relationship together even though you are no longer in a romantic relationship, she tells The Independent, and this can help alleviate any anxiety or sadness they may be experiencing as a result of their parents’ divorce.
If you and your ex don’t share any children, it’s possible that you and they share the same circle of acquaintances. Jones suggests that “both of your lives don’t have to shift totally now that you’re no longer together” by keeping in touch as friends after a breakup.
If you can frame the breakup as a transition from a romantic partnership to a platonic friendship, it may be less painful for both of you.
What dangers might we face?
However, Jones cautions that trying to remain friends may not be the best option if the breakup was not mutual.
“If you were the one left heartbroken, any chance of a friendship could lead to you and your ex rekindling your passion,” she says.
The opposite is true if you were the one who decided to terminate things and you continue to have friendly relations with your ex after the breakup.
The prospect of having to interact with your exes together again in the future is something else to consider.
“For instance, if you’re in a co-parenting relationship, it could be challenging to observe your children around a new ‘parent’ figure,” adds Jones.
“In such a situation, it may be simpler to remain on amicable terms than to try to become best friends with your former and their new partner.”
How do I tell if it’s a bad idea to keep in touch with my ex?
If your connection with your ex was “abusive, manipulative, or poisonous in any way,” for example, maintaining a friendly contact with them isn’t a viable option.
There’s a chance you’ll need some space to figure out how you feel once the relationship ends, and that you won’t be ready to move on and be friends with your ex right away. This is very natural and reasonable; no one should force you to act contrary to your values.
Jones suggests that after the breakup of a long-term relationship, both parties should take their time to heal and move on individually.
Can you give me advice on how to maintain a cordial relationship with my exes?
For the sake of maintaining your friendship, it’s important to establish ground rules so you don’t fall into previous patterns of behaviour.
Jones says, “I would advise taking some time away before diving headfirst into a friendship.” The friendship will be stronger and more genuine if both persons are given time to recover from the emotional trauma of a split or divorce.
A romantic atmosphere or places that remind you of your relationship together are also things she recommends ex-partners stay away from. That means no late-night meals or visits to special places.
She also warns, “Watch how and when you communicate.” Late-night texts that end in a kiss, for example, may not be the clearest indicator of where things stand. Keep your correspondence professional while remaining cordial.