How friendly should you remain with an ex?

Remaining friends with a previous partner can get complicated, especially if there aren't boundaries in place

It’s a tricky dilemma to say the least because it isn’t something that can really be prescribed. How the two parties separated and the reason behind the break-up differ for each person and couple, so there is no set right or wrong answer, says Life coach, author and NLP Practitioner Thandi Vellem.

She says it’s possible to remain friends with a previous partner if there’s no reason for animosity or acromony and there’s no intention of being back in each other’s lives.

Professional Facilitator and NLP Life Coach, Paula Quinsee agrees, and says it is possible to remain friends with an ex after a break-up, so long as boundaries especially if either parties are in a relationship. “There need to be healthy boundaries in place so that the new partner feels secure and safe in the relationship,” she says.

Quinsee says if no boundaries are in place, the new partner may feel intimidated by the ex and also that they’re constantly living in the old partners shadow.

“It’s easy for the new partner to feel intimidated by the ex and like an outsider especially if you start reminising about the past – places you’ve been to, experiences and memories you’ve shared. That can cause insecurity and potentially jealousy,” she says.

READ MORE: Is it ever okay to date a friend’s ex?

Vellem however points out that if you have children together, then it’s essential you remain friendly and civil towards each other as it sets the tone for your parenting and the child understanding they aren’t the reason for them not being together.

She adds that sometimes, you meet someone while there’s an emotional residue of their past relationship present which still needs to phase out. “If you don’t want to be in that situation, then don’t be in a relationship where someone is still dealing,” she says.

She says you know when someone is still dealing by having discussions and asking hardcore questions prior jumping into a relationship. “Sometimes we jump in relationships without establishing where people are emotionally, especially when it comes to an ex – because sometimes you are the rebound,” she says.

Vellem says says it’s important to have integrity in your new relationship and be honest if you aren’t ready to commit. “The person on the other side then needs to have the maturity and wisdom to understand and decide if they’ll wait it out or leave,” she says.

If you do decide to remain friends with your ex, the channels of communication need to be clear and transparent says Quinsee. “The best way to navigate that situation is open channels of communication both ways. The new partner needs to speak up if they feel uncomfortable about anything that’s being said or done by the ex,” she says.

Vellem also maintains that boundaries need to put in place. She says if you do communicate with an ex, the content and context of the conversation needs to be innocent and not harmful to the new partner. “People are threatened because of the content, because you can’t be in a new relationship but still half heartedly in love with an ex,” she says.

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Quinsee advises establishing a healthy friendship between the new and old partner so that they can both see there is no threat and that it’s a genuine friendship.

She explains that the partner communicationg with an ex needs to give his/her new partner reassurance that there’s nothing going on, that they’re the number one priority and they’re totally committed to the relationship. “Treat the old relationship as the past, even if you choose to remain friends. The friendship needs to be secondary to the new relationship,” says Quinsee.

Vellem says communicating with an ex you still have the hope of getting back with will affect your new relationship, because you won’t be giving to your new union.

She concludes by saying one should treat their person like they’d like to be treated.

“You have to be able to explain to your partner why you’re being friendly with someone you were once intimate with and who you can easily fall back to. Have intergrity, have maturity and boundaries,” she ends.