Relationships with an Ex After a Breakup. What You Can and Cannot Do

Relationships with an Ex After a Breakup. What You Can and Cannot Do 1
Photo by Kinga Howard on Unsplash

Everyone reacts differently to a breakup. Given that a breakup is always painful, it’s logical to assume that your behavior afterward might be unpredictable. Let’s look at women’s common mistakes when interacting with their exes and how to behave with them to avoid unnecessary pain.

Should You Stay Friends?

A breakup is a loss, and that’s exactly how any mentally healthy person experiences it. Even if the relationship had long run its course and was difficult and unpleasant, the breakup still causes pain. Sadness, confusion, regret, grief, and fear about whether you made the right decision are all normal feelings in such a situation.

This is why, in an attempt to ease the pain, people often suggest staying friends with their exes – it seems like maintaining some kind of relationship without owing each other anything anymore. However, this is self-deception.

By continuing to communicate with the person whose loss you are currently grieving, you are essentially “tearing” your consciousness into two parts. This only prolongs the grieving process and prevents you from moving on.

This doesn’t mean you should cut all ties with your ex-partner (after all, you might have shared children, a business, or mutual friends). Maintaining decent, peaceful relations without spitting venom at each other is perfectly possible.

It’s important to remember that a painless friendship with an ex-partner is not possible. At least not immediately. Give yourself a year to process the loss, and then decide if you want closer interaction with this person in a new role.

The chances of friendly relations with an ex are greatest when:

Both of you already have new, satisfying relationships.

Neither party harbors guilt, resentment, or unresolved romantic feelings towards the other.

“Erase” and forget?

Another favorite breakup scenario is to pretend that the person no longer exists. Burn all the photos, block them on social media, forbid friends from mentioning them, etc. However, this “technique” also has its drawbacks.

By trying to push out a large part of our experience, we don’t allow ourselves to properly process the loss. Moreover, this behavior often has a double edge: on the one hand, blocking the person, and on the other, secretly keeping tabs on them and checking how much they are suffering.

In other words, while we might end the relationship outwardly, emotionally we remain involved. Essentially, we don’t break up with this person — in our subjective reality, we continue to react to them, depending on their behavior, state, etc.

Building new relationships or simply feeling free and happy in such a situation is impossible.

Don’t deceive yourself. Don’t claim that your ex is “dead” to you when in reality you feel anger, resentment, interest, or regret towards them. Allow yourself to experience these feelings, and talk about them. Only then can you truly get rid of them.

Sex Without Commitment with Exes: Pros and Cons

This option partially resembles the scenario of staying friends after a breakup: in that situation, people try to remove the sexual component from the relationship, whereas here, they aim to keep only that component.

At first glance, it seems like a reasonable idea. There is a familiar person with whom you know you are sexually compatible, and both of you are aware of each other’s preferences… So, why not?

However, in reality, people who agree to have sex with their exes without commitment face one of two problems:

Either they haven’t internally completed their relationship with this person;

Or they generally have difficulties establishing trusting relationships and do not associate sex with the experience of intimacy.

Overall, if at this stage a person is not aiming to find a new relationship, this format can have a place. But combining sex with exes with attempts to build attachment with other people is a bad idea.

Living Alone

If the relationship was painful and did not bring joy (especially if it was not the first such relationship), there is a high risk of thinking that relationships are just “not for me.” This can lead to giving up on trying to meet and get close to new people and deciding to live alone.

In general, there is nothing wrong with the idea of living alone, and some people may indeed come to this conclusion throughout their lives. However, this should be a decision driven by a sense of inner comfort, not an attempt to escape from fear and pain.

Learn to listen to yourself, trust yourself, and handle your boundaries with care. Build a relationship with yourself first, and then decide if you need someone else in your life.

Before Breaking Up

Weigh all the pros and cons and make a conscious decision that you do not want to be in this relationship anymore.

After Breaking Up

Acknowledge that it is the end. Period. You have broken up forever and will never be together again. The role of romantic partners no longer binds you. Both you and your ex-partner will now build new relationships and live your lives without looking back at each other.

Embrace Your Emotions

Do not devalue your feelings, and do not try to convince yourself that you are not in pain, not struggling, or not sad. Only psychopaths can feel nothing about a breakup. Accept the multitude of emotions that overwhelm you and allow yourself to suffer, cry, complain to friends, etc. Do not bottle up your feelings inside.

Say Goodbye

Do not leave the other person with hopes or loopholes suggesting that things can still be fixed. Both you and your ex-partner must be crystal clear that it is over.

Post-Breakup Interaction

Ideally, you should behave with your ex as you would with any other stranger: politely and restrained.

The absence of any intense feelings and the ability to have a calm dialogue is an excellent sign that you have moved on from the breakup.