When Is It A Bad Idea To Stay Friends With Your Ex?

When we break up with someone, it's sometimes hard to let go. Like, really hard to let go. Because of this, exes sometimes decide to be friends, so they don't completely lose each other. While being friends with an ex seems like a fantastic idea, in theory, IRL it doesn't always work. In some situations, it can actually be a very, very bad idea.

"Becoming friends with your ex requires emotional maturity, clear communication, and excellent boundaries," licensed psychotherapist Christine Scott-Hudson tells Bustle. "Changing the form of the relationship (partners to friends) does not mean we change the content (love, value, and respect)."

Not everyone is able to harness such emotional maturity. If you're one such person and/or your ex can't do it either, then completely cutting ties may be the healthiest thing for both of you. You need time to mourn the loss of the relationship, go through the grieving process that comes with that loss, and remember — or rediscover — who you are (via HuffPost). Hanging on to your ex won't allow these things to happen in a healthy and productive way. But these aren't the only reasons why it's a bad idea to stay friends with an ex. Here are two even more complicated reasons that are likely to backfire at some point.

When you're still in love with them

Fun fact: it's almost impossible to be friends with an ex if you're still in love with them. As much as you may miss them being in your life, having an ex as a friend when you're still in love with them is setting yourself up for heartbreak and difficulty moving on (via MindBodyGreen). What happens if your ex meets someone and starts dating them? Or, even worse, falls in love with them? Think about the jealousy, the pain, and the fear of forever losing them. It can be torturous.

"Where things tend to get complicated is when you still have attraction or unresolved feelings for your ex," research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and Lovehoney expert Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., tells Good Housekeeping. "In that case, staying friends can potentially open the door to jealousy, conflict, infidelity, or even breakups."

As much as you may try to tell yourself that, despite your feelings, you can handle being friends, are you being honest with yourself? Being in love with someone who no longer loves us back and is ready to move on is one of the most devastating things one can experience. Don't delude yourself; stay away until you've gotten over them or your love has evolved into one that's strictly platonic.

When you're selfishly keeping them around

Sometimes people like to keep their exes around for reasons that can be quite selfish. You may not want to be alone, so you have them on standby, or you want to keep sleeping with them until you find someone else. But these are not good reasons to stay friends with an ex (via TalkSpace). In fact, these are extremely selfish reasons to keep an ex in your life, especially if you know your ex still has feelings for you.

"Before you agree to share your body with that person again, stop and think about it," psychotherapist and relationship expert Rhonda Richards-Smith tells Oprah Daily. "The relationship ended for a reason, so why are you considering going back to the sex?"

Exactly. Why? Was the sex that good? It is because it's easy access? Are you fulfilling an animalistic need with zero regard to how it might be affecting your ex? These are things to consider. As they say, it takes two to tango, but if one partner has the upper hand, then the inequality ends up being unfair to the other person.

Being friends with an ex can be an amazing and fulfilling experience. Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships where we realize we're better friends than lovers, so switching gears to friend mode works. But for others, when there are emotions still running rampant, time and space are necessary before you can consider being friends. You may even decide that you'll never be able to be friends, and that's fine. What's most important is that you take into consideration both yourself and your ex when deciding to try the friend thing. If either of you can't handle it, then it's a bad idea — at least for now.