How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship With Your Ex

Breakups can be tough. After spending the majority of your free time with someone, a breakup can feel like a death in the family and represent a major change in the life of the typical young professional. Some breakups end amicably, perhaps even over a civilized brunch or drinks. Others are plain messy, drawn out, hurtful and unhealthy. Subsequently, the typical YP is closer to certain exes than others, depending on the history and break up.  But how far should a relationship with an ex girlfriend or boyfriend go? 

Avoid the “Grey Area”
A few months back, we outlined the pitfalls of sustaining a “grey” (label-free) relationship for any length of time. Grey areas are especially harmful for ex-couples and will most likely produce more anxiety and heartache than your relationship ever did due to constant feelings of instability. Inevitably, (and especially if the two of you begin to fall into a relationship-esque routine) someone is going to get hurt the moment expectations fall short…or as soon as someone else enters the picture. If you are going to go grey with anyone, it should be a friendship type of situation that has been casual from the start.

Don’t Talk About “Us”
If you want a healthy relationship with your ex, it is essential that you are both over the relationship and have accepted the fact that you two are better off as friends. Only after hearts have repaired, ill words are forgiven, and the two of you couldn’t dissect what went wrong any further if you tried, could you maintain a healthy relationship with your ex. At the same time, don’t get caught up in all the moments of greatness you had as a couple. Sure you can reflect upon funny memories or trips you took together, but talk about the how gorgeous the view was on top of that mountain, not what else happened between the two of you while you took advantage of the sunset.

Don’t be Sneaky
Be honest with new significant others (SOs) about your friendship with your ex from the beginning. If a text message or email is something you wouldn’t want your new boyfriend or girlfriend to see, then you shouldn’t be sending them or encouraging such behaviour from your ex. It is only normal and respectable for exes to check in on one another from time to time, either through an email, phone call or over a meal, but respect the boundaries and the feelings of your current SO. Instead of dinner, which can last for hours (and seem like days for your waiting-at-home SO), and especially if drinks are involved, consider a friendly lunch or even a walk with your ex.

Be Pleasant to Their New Boyfriend or Girlfriend
We are by no means suggesting that you should go out of your way to be best friends with your ex’s new SO. At this age, however, you should be pleasant, make small talk and introduce him at her to your company at events or gatherings you both may be at.  If your ex’s SO likes you, they will be more comfortable with the relationship that the two of you have and the hurt feelings and drama that comes with mutual friends having to decide who (you or your ex) to invite to parties, weddings and BBQs will be avoided.

Know When to Draw the Line
If you are seeing one another more than your other friends or other SOs, then you may want to re-evaluate why you are not still together in the first place. Also, don’t invite your ex along (with their new SO or not) for a weekend away with a group of friends. Even if there are ten other couples on the trip, this type of situation is always too close for comfort. Finally, although YPs may have different views on this, it is not necessary to invite exes to weddings, specifically yours. Birthday parties are one thing, weddings quite another.