breaking up

Friends with an ex: Worth the time or time to move on?

 

iStock_000042224340_Small.jpgAfter sharing love and a life together, severing all contact with an ex sounds like a harsh outcome to say the least, but is maintaining ties with an ex worthwhile? Traditional advice seems to support “clean breaks” and “moving on”, but is there something to be said for pursing friendship in lieu of separation?

 

Is friendship with an ex even possible?

 

According to The Journal of Social Psychology, friendship after a breakup is more likely if you and your ex were friends prior to the relationship.; the transition is easier if both parties have experience in the platonic realm. Conversely, if sparks flew shortly after meeting, you stand to endure more pain and awkwardness as the romance falls away.

 

The nature of the breakup will also impact the opportunity for friendship. Naturally, break ups that included heated endings—arguments, cheating, or any sort of perceived hostility—jeopardize chances of friendship. However, if the dumper used “de-escalation” tactics—or slowly started pulling away, the ex-partner has time to adjust and consider an alternative dynamic.

 

Why stay friends?

 

If you do decide to remain friends, have an honest conversation with yourself about your motivations. According to a research study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, your desire to remain friends after the relationship probably falls under one of the following reasons:

 

Reliability/sentimentality: your ex “gets you” and you can count on him or her to have your back.

 

Pragmatism: your ex makes your life easier. Your ex has resources you want—connections to business prospects, money, or skills you need.

 

Continued romantic attraction: You’re still in love.

 

Children and shared resources: Joint loans, kids, mortgages, etc. are obligations that make severing contact difficult if not impossible.

 

Diminished romantic attraction: Although the passion has waned, you still share an emotional connection.

 

Social relationship maintenance:You have similar friend groups or family friends.

 

Sexual access: Maintaining enough connectivity to ensure sexual opportunities or, simply, a friends with benefits situation.

 

Although reliability was the prevailing reason for friendship among both women and men, men were more likely to rate pragmatism and sexual access higher than women.

 

If you are pushing for friendship, be sure it’s friendship you’re actually looking for. To get your answer, ask yourself the following:

  • Are you scared to lose support, advice, and comfort?
  • Are you trying to avoid grief?
  • Do you want the benefits of partnership (i.e. sex) without a formalized commitment?

 

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be more interested in filling a void than pursuing a true friendship. If you find yourself pursuing contact for these reasons, the pain and stress of the breakup are probably encouraging some unhealthy rollercoaster emotions.

 

Using friendship as a crutch while your relationship dies will prolong the agony of heartbreak. The sooner you cut ties and take time for yourself—on your own—the sooner you may have an opportunity to pursue friendship.

 

What does creating space for friendship with an ex look like?

 

Firstly—and this may sound dramatic—defriend your ex on Facebook. According to research that appears in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, monitoring an ex on Facebook “exacerbates feelings of distress…and increases feelings of sexual desire and longing for an ex partner.” Although people who de-friended exes still experienced some setbacks in personal growth during their breakup, ultimately they reported less negative feelings than their stalker counterparts.

 

Instead of focusing on the friendship with an ex, you might find more value in revisiting your platonic relationships. The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships revealed that cross-sex friends who have always been platonic offer more satisfaction than cross-sex friends who have been lovers. Without sexual attraction or a need to get more serious, platonic friends share a pure connection.

 

Regardless of what you decide, give yourself—and your ex—and opportunity to adjust to the being single. If you do decide to pursue friendship, realize that the strong emotional connection you continue to share could complicate—at best—or preclude—at worst—your chances of establishing a new, totally fulfilling relationship.

Holiday Heartbreak – How to Put Back Together the Pieces

According to statistics compiled from Facebook status updates, the holidays are one of the peak times of year when breakups occur. This adds an extra layer of difficulty to an already complicated time of year. It is essential to take care of yourself and your aching heart so you can get back into the game as soon as possible.

Friend of Linx, Daniela Tempesta, who is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco has put together some great insights into holiday heartbreak. If you are experiencing some holiday blues this season, consider gaining a fresh perspective that Daniela offers in order to gain momentum in 2014 in your personal life. Here are some of Daniela’s tips on strategies for putting back together the pieces and how speaking with a therapist can assist that process.

1) Don’t Carry The Baggage Of Your Last Relationship Into Your Next One

People often run from one failed relationship to another in a desperate attempt to forget the pain in the arms of a new love. But if we don’t seize the chance to really process the grief from a breakup, we are likely to bring it with us into the next relationship. We may project feelings and memories onto our new partner that have nothing to do with them. For example, your ex may have severely broken your trust and as result you are constantly suspicious or accuse your new partner of deceiving you even though they are not. This is likely to result in you walking away from someone wonderful, or pushing that person away. Therapy can help you clear the marks of your last love and give you a clean emotional canvas to work with.

2) Own What Is Yours And Let Go Of The Rest

Many people incorrectly blame themselves for a relationship not working out. They are so busy feeling bad about themselves that they fail to take responsibility for the way they actually did contribute to problems with their ex. It is important that you are able to examine what happened with someone who can help you see it objectively. It is essential that you stop blaming yourself for things that are not your fault, because sitting with blame and shame weighs us down and keeps us stuck. It is also important that you uncover the problematic behaviors or patterns that you did engage in that were not helpful. A lot of the problems that came up in your last relationship probably existed long before you ever met your ex. That is because we have internal dynamics in place for understanding ourselves and relating to others that have been in place since childhood. It is essential to untangle this web before you step into the next relationship so that you don’t repeat the same patterns again.

3) Re-Discover Your Identity As A Single Person And Learn To Love Yourself

A large part of coping with the loss of a relationship is learning how to be single again. This involves learning how to be alone and really getting to know and love an independent you. Skipping this step can lead to dating people who are not right for you as a way of filling an empty hole in your heart. We often lose parts of our identity in our relationships, and therapy can help you connect with your truest self and put the pieces back together. In order to really love someone else, we must learn to love ourselves.

4) Improve Your Communication Skills

Effective communication is hard. It is both an art and a science. Communication problems are often the number one culprit in a failed relationship. Before moving onto your next relationship it’s important to examine how your communication style may have been the source of strife. Is your communication style passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or altogether non-existent? For a relationship to work you need to be able to express yourself in a way that honors your voice and desires, but does not alienate or harm others. Remember, it’s not usually what people are saying, but how they are saying it (or what they are afraid to say) that is getting them into trouble.