Is It OK To Be Friends With Your Ex?
Q: My boyfriend and I recently ended our three-year relationship. We agreed we were just better off as friends and we stayed in touch. He recently started dating someone new, and while at first that was hard for me to accept, I am happy for him. I told him I looked forward to meeting her at a friend's upcoming wedding and he said he didn't want to introduce us. She is worried about the fact that we're still friends. This seems unfair. Is there anything I can do to keep my friend? Hope-25
Dr. Pamela: I understand that cutting off the romance while keeping the friendship isn't as cut-and-dry as you might think. In today's smartphone-centric, Facebook-addicted, Instagram-obsessed world, staying in touch with an ex is a lot easier—but that's not always a good thing.
You, your ex and his new girlfriend form a triangle. And while triangles are great for explaining nutrition, they're rotten for relationships. Here's why. Picture an upright triangle with your ex at the top and you and his girlfriend at the two bottom corners. He is connected to you and to his girlfriend. The sides of the triangle are strong. But you are not connected to his girlfriend; the triangle has no base. It will collapse under its own weight. In other words, there will be problems galore.
In order for the relationship triangle to stand, you and his new girlfriend must become closely connected, independent of the boyfriend. The only way to remain friends with your ex without upsetting his current relationship is by forming your own relationship with his new girlfriend. If that can't happen, because she resists or for some other reason, it's best to stay away. Otherwise you risk making his new partner insecure, untrusting, confused or jealous.
You and your ex may be better friends than lovers, but you don't want to jeopardize a friend's happiness.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.