It's a question that seems to get thrown around quite a lot, most likely because social media makes it almost impossible to just ignore someone for the rest of your life. Break ups are an awful process as they literally force you to do an overhaul on almost every part of your life. It's hard to just let go of someone who has been a big part of your existence, especially if the separation was on good and mutual terms. We are conditioned to forgive and forget, but does this mean that we have to remain friends with the person we use to be in love with?
Of course every relationship is different. For some, there might be children involved, so it is important for both parents to remain on good terms (if possible). However, keeping a platonic friendship with your old flame can also cause a few issues and here's why:
1. Staying friends with an ex means you keep your past in your present.
Just because you have created a history with someone does not mean that you have to be connected to them for the rest of your life. Clearly the relationship ended for a reason and so it's important to establish the new role they have in your life. And that is the role of staying in the past. When we bring our past into our present, we risk the chance of never being able to fully move on and embrace a new season.
2. You've been intimate with them...
You can't change what happened, even if there is no longer any chemistry or feelings, the fact that you have been intimate with them in more ways than one will always stand. Choosing to keep in touch with someone with whom you've had physical connections with can sometimes lead to the temptation of trying it out again, purely because you have a familiar bond. Sex with the ex never leads to happily ever after, not to mention it adds a whole lot of confusion to the healing process.
3. While it may be nice and they might be nice, it's not necessary.
Not all break ups are messy and melodramatic, some people just fall out of love at the same time. Half their luck. However, just because you don't hate each other doesn't mean you should be cementing a friendship, especially if you have a new partner in your life.
I believe that friendships with the opposite sex should always have clear, strict boundaries to prevent mixed signals or hurt feelings. And a friendship with someone you use to be intimate with is just not necessary (unless you have kids... but that's another blog post in itself).
4. Your new partner probably doesn't think it's cool
It can cause division in your new relationship, especially if one person has not truly moved on or if your partner is protective of you. Again, it is inviting your past into your present and will most likely ruffle a few feathers. Even if you are just friends on Facebook and are not catching up in real life, you are still connected to that person and are sending the wrong type of message to your new spouse.
5. Holding on to an old relationship makes it harder to move on
For the single folk, holding on to an ex, even if you are just friends, prohibits you from being able to let go, move forward, and meet someone new. Sure, you may not have all those gooey feelings about them anymore, but you have to ask yourself this: Why do you need to be friends with them?
Yes, it sucks when things don't work out, and yes, you will miss them, but missing someone is a part of moving on.
At the end of the day, we always have a choice who we invite into our world and who is meant to stay there. Don't forget that some people are purely just for a season and it's wise to understand when that season is over. If you really want an answer, ask yourself how would you feel if the situation was reversed. Would you want your new partner asking to have coffee and chats with their ex? My guess is a big fat no.
The great thing about letting the past go is it allows you to be fully present in your present. Plus, it means you can work on building an amazing friendship with your new squeeze.