Call Me Crazy, But I Stayed Friends With My Ex

staying friends ex

I can't say I agree that creating a clean slate is right for everyone.

In our recent Break Up With Your Ex survey, 51 percent of you said you can't truly be friends with an ex. And there's a good reason, why too. Thirty-eight percent said the biggest impediment is that they're still in love and can't let go.

Even several YourTango experts made the case for severing ties with an ex, explaining that "when a romantic relationship ends, whether it is a dating, short or long term relationship or a marriage, there is a breaking of a bond, a realization that the relationship cannot continue as it has. In many cases, there is a loss of respect between the partners. Without respect, there cannot be true friendship."

As much as it's important to move on and focus on yourself and your future after a breakup, I can't say I agree that creating a clean slate is right for everyone. Here's why.

I had a mutual breakup. I know, I know, is that a thing? Yes, I can tell you, it's definitely possible and I experienced it two years ago. We cared about each other, respected each other but something was starting to fade and it was obvious we were growing apart. We both realized it wasn't working.

Unlike a bad breakup (in which case I'd say you should definitely not be friends), there were no fights, resentment or attempts to get back together. We left things open — we knew probably wouldn't be best friends but we'd talk when feel like it and hang out when the time is right.

Don't get me wrong. Getting over my four-year relationship wasn't easy just because we both agreed on it. There were tears, comfort from friends and avoidance of all romantic comedies. But on the other hand, there was also someone who inspired me, gave me support, appreciated that I ate the same thing for breakfast every day or that I had a weird obsession with Lady Gaga. I wanted that person to still be in my life, even if it wasn't romantic.

Like the modern-day moving process recommends, I was now supposed to erase him digitally. I couldn't bring myself to defriend him, delete photos or erase texts. It felt so cold and unnecessary. Couldn't I move on and keep my memories?!

A study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking revealed that people who remained Facebook friends with their exes postbreakup had less negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for their former partners than those who didn't. However, these participants had lower personal growth after keeping their Facebook friendship.

Even though our relationship ended, I was still proud of it. Like a really good television series, it came to an end when the time was right, but I wanted to remember it for all the positive things it brought me and cutting someone off didn't seem to allow that. 

While we don't talk or hang out every day and we're not best friends, I still consider him someone valuable in my life. In the last two years, being able to go to dinner, grab drinks, Gchat or attend housewarming parties has been important to me — but not to the point where I'm thinking about him obsessively or living in the past. Communicating with him isn't an attempt to get back together or get "closure." I don't obsessively check his Facebook (or ask a friend to do it) and freak out about who he might be dating.

And sure, right after the breakup, when I was trying not to think of him, where it went wrong, or if I'd ever meet someone so great, deciding to keep communication open was a big challenge. Did having him in the picture prolong my recovery process like the Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking study suggests? Maybe. But that's something I was willing to risk. Because when you're no longer friends, you no longer know someone, and I refused to not know someone who had such a positive impact on me. 

Have you stayed friends with an ex? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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