Exes as friends

(Graphic by Joshua Awolade)

(Graphic by Joshua Awolade)

There is always that one partner that knows your darkest secrets, where you hide your secret stash of midnight snacks and the fact that Justin Bieber is your guilty pleasure. What happens when this relationship disintegrates? Do they take all your secrets with them, or do you continue a cordial friendship even when you both begin dating others?

There is a thin line that divides what kind of relationship is acceptable between two who were once romantically entangled, but what exactly constitutes this line?

Third-year psychology student at Wilfrid Laurier University Nila Rosborough has been with her boyfriend for almost five years and doesn’t think that she would be okay with her boyfriend being friends with an ex, but would be confident that nothing would happen between them.

It’s inevitable that remaining friends with an ex would create some tension in your new relationship. In fact, it would be another worry in itself if your current partner were completely nonchalant about the situation. The answer to keeping all parties happy does not always equate to dissolving all communication with an ex.

“Being too close does have the chance of harming a new relationship,” said second-year business student, Genevieve Abalajon. “As long as their intentions for staying friends are just to stay friends, there should be nothing to worry about.”

As long as both parties understand that their romantic relationship is in the past and what they have now is strictly a friendship, it should resolve all looming issues, right? Maybe not. Actions could sometimes speak louder than words.

“I would be wary of the fact that there have been past feelings shared between them and would be uncomfortable with the potential for feelings to be redeveloped,” Rosborough added.

Your ex is an ex for a reason — the relationship ended because something was not working. If you are in a brand new relationship, there shouldn’t be a need to keep up an old one.

Keeping your ex around to constantly compare the new relationship with is not healthy for any parties involved. That being said, if your partner is unsettled about your unwillingness to let go of your friendship with your ex, it is crucial that you prove where your heart truly lies.

Isaak Wong, a first-year business student at Laurier, recommended both parties “respect and understand your emotions towards the issue and clear up boundaries between yourself and your ex, making it clear that you are solely friends and that you are with someone else now.”

If your partner is the one who refuses to cut ties with his or her ex, assess the amount to which you value your current relationship. Wong further advised these couples to “continually build the trust between you and your partner and bringing this topic up between the two to strengthen the trust you two have.”

Being friends with an ex can be dangerous territory, especially if your new partner is uncomfortable with it. Don’t dream up the worst possible scenarios, but at the same time, keep your eyes peeled for suspicious behaviour.

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