Breakups are complicated.
For a few lucky ones, it can an amicable affair, but for most it ends in one of two ways.
Either one or both parties end up hating the other, and decide never to speak again, or you take some time to grieve, eventually get over it and move on to a stage where you’d say hi if you passed them in the street – but wouldn’t actively seek them out.
Both scenarios can include one or many post-breakup bangs with the ex.
If it was a healthy relationship up until the end, it might be worth considering a third alternative: being friends with your ex.
As the saying goes, the best relationships are built on a foundation of friendship.
While you probably had good reasons for ending things, remember that underneath that pain is a connection that you’ve cultivated and cherished.
Once your heart has healed, take a moment to consider if it’s worth keeping this person in your life.
Rosy, 32, tells Metro.co.uk that she chose to stay friends with her ex because he’s ‘the most incredible man’ she knows.
‘We were together for so long (almost three years) and we had so much fun and he made me so happy, that it seemed ridiculous to throw all that away,’ said Rosy.
‘I wouldn’t throw away a close relationship with a female friend, and my ex and I probably had a closer bond than anything I’ve had with a girl.
He is still the most incredible man I know: hot, funny, generous, smart, interesting and sexy.
‘I ended the relationship, although we were both unhappy towards the end.
‘We stayed in touch right from the offset, but I think I made it slightly easier by remaining firm on my decision to break up – it helped us establish boundaries, which in turn informed how we would transition into our new friendship.
‘In one message, I remember him saying ‘who gives a f*** about what people think, let’s do what’s best for us’ – and staying friends has been so enriching and important for me, and I think for him too. ‘He has a new girlfriend now and I am so happy for him.
I will never stop loving him but being in a relationship doesn’t work for us now and we have no plans to explore it again in the future ‘Just because we aren’t in a relationship, we shouldn’t have to give up each other up.’
Marilena, 34, is also friends with her ex boyfriend, but their relationship ended on a sour note, after he cheated on her.
‘My ex and I broke up because he wasn’t ready for a long-lasting relationship, and I discovered that he was cheating on me.
In hindsight, I think he tried all sorts of ways to make me realise that he wasn’t ready and I just wanted to give up, so maybe it wasn’t actually cheating.
‘At first I was really upset and didn’t want to see him ever again. ‘Then something happened in his life, his best friend passed away at 27, and I knew what it meant to him.
So I called him to check how he was doing. ‘After that, I realised that he was important to me regardless of our previous relationship.
‘We share similar passions such as music, and became concert buddies and now catch up regularly for coffee to update each other on our lives.
‘My current boyfriend has met him and it was a bit awkward when they met, but now they are actually “friends” too.
Well, more or less.’ Personally, I am friends with two of my exes. James* and I had a bad breakup and I started dating someone else shortly after our split, so it took us a few years to get back to a place where we could talk to each other again.
We occasionally hang out or text. Sean* and are closer, partly because he’s a very understanding and loving person, but also because despite him being the one who ended things, we both quickly realised that we weren’t right for each other.
I was invited to his wedding, and I have met his fiancé on several occasions. We meet up once a year for lunch or coffee, and it’s always good fun.
Being friends with an ex can be wonderful, but that isn’t to say that every ex is worthy of it – if it was an abusive or toxic relationship, it’s healthier to have a clean break.
In a similar way, if either party is still in love with the other, it’s kinder to stay apart for a while, until there’s less romantic emotion involved.
Do not string an ex along because you want them in your life – make it clear that it’s friendship and friendship only.
Unless it blossoms into a second attempt at the relationship, that is. Remember that exes are people you loved (or liked a lot) at one point in your life.
Don’t just dismiss them – you could be missing out on a new relationship that’s even better than your romantic one was.