Is it Okay if He’s Friends with His Ex?

Is it Okay if He’s Friends with His Ex?So, you start dating a new guy. He’s great. Interesting, attractive, intelligent and fun. All seems well until…

You find out he’s still pretty tight with an ex.

Sure, there are situations where former partners have to maintain contact. If they share a circle of friends, have kids, or work at the same place, for example.

But these two have none of those obligations, and they’re still very close.

Like, they hang out. They talk. REALLY talk. Probably about his relationship with you. They’re downright chummy, and it kind of weirds you out.

It’s not that you’re jealous. You’re not afraid he’s cheating on you with her. If he wanted that, they’d still be dating. No, this is something else.

You don’t want to sound possessive or insecure, but you’re not cool with the connection he has with her.

And the worst part of it is you end up doubting yourself. What if you are just being clingy?

 

So here’s the real question. Is it okay that he still pals around with a former girlfriend?

The quick answer? Maybe. But probably not.

A recent Oakland University study actually took a close look at over 850 post-dating friendships. What these researchers discovered was kind of alarming.[i]

According to the study, people with “darker personality traits,” like narcissism and psychopathy, were more likely to remain friends with an ex after the breakup. Their reasons were mostly pragmatic and almost always selfish.

Former partners don’t normally stay close friends. Most people move on.

Unless that is, they see their ex as a “desirable resource” they can use when convenient. A resource for what? Well, that ranges from help meeting other eligible singles to easy random hookups.

Yeah. Scary.

Is it a guarantee your guy is thinking along those lines? No, not at all. But if he’s still friends with an old flame, you have good reason to be uncomfortable.

Luckily, dealing with it is pretty straightforward.

First, talk to him. Let him know you’re not comfortable. He may defend the friendship, which is normal. Just maintain your stance.

Don’t let your imagination get the best of you. In other words, DON’T accuse him of anything. And don’t draw any lines in the sand. It might seem like a good idea to give him an ultimatum, but it’s not.

This isn’t a Lifetime movie. If you end up saying, “It’s her or me!” you’ve gone too far.

Just let him know his connection with a former girlfriend is going to have a negative impact on his connection with you. You’re not okay with that.

If he’s receptive, understanding, and willing to change, great! It may take a bit of time to work out the kinks, but a sensitive, mature guy will get it.

If, on the other hand, he refuses to take your feelings into account, run. Don’t expect him to suddenly decide your feelings matter later. If they don’t matter now, you deserve better.

A lot of former couples manage to be civil around each other after the breakup. That’s a sign of maturity. But if your guy is besties with his ex, that’s a red flag.

Tell him that doesn’t work for you and give him the chance to change it. If he won’t, it’s probably time for you to move on.

[i] Rense, Sarah. “If You’re Still Friends with Your Ex, Chances Are You’re a Psychopath.” ELLE. Hearst Digital Media, 13 May 2016. Web. 19 May 2016.


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6 thoughts on “Is it Okay if He’s Friends with His Ex?

  1. S. said:

    I think this is slightly misleading – the article in Elle does not accurately reflect the study.

    • James Bauer said:

      It was an unusual research design. And the findings reported here are really only one small portion of what what the researchers noticed.

      • Cici said:

        My ex and I are friends. We have known each other for almost 50 years. When we were divorced almost 30 years ago. We decided that life would be so much easier if we were on a friendly basis as we had 2 children and would be in contact forever. Both of the kids appreciated this. Birthdays, Christmas, graduations, weddings, births of grandkids etc were so much easier on everyone involved.

  2. Idiot girlfriend said:

    I found messages in my boyfriends phone and pictures she sent him. They talk all cute with eachother “handsome” “beautiful” how she’s so far out of his leage and how she’s just so far away.. Then I findout he met up with her when he went back to his hometown. Like an idiot I’m still here and all we do is fight. He’s friends with all 30+ ex and they message eachother.. Please tell me to leave

  3. Ali said:

    I wouldn’t interpret it this harsh, ladies. Different people, different situations. I am friends with my ex, we’ve known each other for two decades now, out of which we spent more than a decade together. We talk probably on weekly or fortnightly basis, buy presents for each other’s birthdays. Yet, there is no coming back. None of us wants it back. We have a very strong mutual understanding that it will never work for us as a couple. We are best being more like brother and sister. There is ABSOLUTELY NO sexual connotation to our relationship with him.

    Some people are surprised, yet they fail to consider that life is more than being about sex. Life is much happier and satisfying when it is about forgiveness, friendship, kindness, and not harbouring negative feelings.

    He knows me for much longer than he knows his wife. I hope that she is not of a jealous kind (we never discuss our current relationships anyway, we have a lot of other common interests. The only time we spoke about it was when he consulted me which one of his several girlfriends I liked better, and I liked the one that later became his wife). But trying to stop it would be more like making him stop seeing his relative: a brother or a sister.

    I just want to say that women have a lot of influence on their men. Don’t teach your man to be angry and possessive, if don’t want those qualities to later show up in his dealings with you too. Teach him to be a better man, and you’ll be the first one to benefit from it.

    • Bea said:

      I’m with you on this one, Ali. I am great friends with my ex-husband of 4 years. We even hang out on a semi regular basis. Always in a group, never alone. THERE IS NOTHING SEXUAL ABOUT OUR FRIENDSHIP. We were great friends prior to our marriage, the marriage fell through, our friendship picked back up after. Yes, we have a daughter together and that was a big driving force to stay friendly after the divorce. But it wasn’t hard to want to stay friends. Even now, it’s not awkward. I’ve dated someone seriously since our split and there was no animosity by either party. All I’m saying, Ladies, is take time to really listen to your guys side of the issue. If the tables were turned and you were the one in that type of friendship, how would you want you potential new guy to come to you with the issue in a way you felt was fair and mature.

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