8 Signs That You Shouldn't Remain Friends With an Ex

4. They're meeting new people, but say they're hurt if you start to date.

Posted Oct 19, 2016

Note: For simplicity's sake, the "ex" is here portrayed as a man. Of course, the ex could just as easily be a woman, or a person of any other gender.

antoniodiaz/Shutterstock
Source: antoniodiaz/Shutterstock

When a romantic relationship is over, you don't always want to end all contact with your ex. Although you may never again embrace in a loving hug or feel so deeply connected, there are many other aspects to your past romantic relationship that may be worth preserving: You may have had similar personalities, a close nurturing friendship, or undeniably fun times that you don't want to lose simply because you are no longer romantically involved.

Remaining friends with an ex after a long-term romantic relationship (a committed relationship having lasted at least six months) has ended is worth pursuing if you are both able to handle it. But sometimes friendship isn't possible because one or both of you are deeply hurt or still have romantic feelings for the other. Friendship is impossible if those deep-seated feelings lead one or both partners to treat the other in a demeaning way.

If you and your ex cannot treat each other as true friends, it is best to cut off all contact, or at least limit contact required by external circumstances. For example, you cannot cease all contact if you work together, have children together, or have many common friends.

The following, though, are eight examples of the kind of devaluing and disrespect that should immediately lead you to end contact with an ex, or to limit contact to the whatever extent is practically possible:

1. When asked whether you are still together, your ex proudly and triumphantly replies that you are not—without even a hint of hurt or sadness. Then he offers the female questioner a flirtatious smile that suggests that he is open to anything with her. He does this right in front of you without scruples.

2. Your ex prefers—for hours and hours on end—to be in the company of people that he has admitted are toxic individuals, instead of helping you out when you really need it. When you kindly ask him to accompany you for 10 minutes, he may give you five.

3. Your ex has dated many people in the few months since you broke up and is not shy about telling you the details with an expression that clearly reveals just how little he respects you and your feelings.

4. Your ex has subtle or not-so-subtle double standards: He feels perfectly entitled to date and be sexually involved with anyone he wants, yet feels betrayed if you even entertain the idea of finding a new partner.

5. Your ex continually communicates how little you mean to him, either through words or actions, and how little he cares about your feelings. For example, he might refer to you as "needy" or "a stalker," despite your purported friendship, which may have been his idea.

6. Your ex has blocked you or unfriended you on Facebook, or changed his social media relationship status to "single" without letting you know or coordinating with you like adults. You find out about this change via the big red broken heart that is temporarily displayed on your Facebook timeline and frantic queries from your Facebook friends about it.

7. Although you and your ex are supposed to be friends, he doesn't treat you like one. When the two of you are out with his friends, he picks up their tab while ignoring you, purposely treating you differently than his "true" friends. He might even treat people he formerly considered begrudging or morose in this positive and giving fashion.

8. Although your ex suggested that you should be friends, he doesn't want to have real conversations with you. He might present it as just needing a quiet moment. But when other people show up—even complete strangers—he immediately engages in conversation with them. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk; it was your company he rejected.

These are just some examples of the type of negative behaviors you should never put up with, especially from an ex who's a self-proclaimed friend. These actions instead represent emotional abuse.

Oxford University Press, used with permission.
Source: Oxford University Press, used with permission.

If you're trying to be friends with a former partner, look at his or her actions—don't simply listen to their words about remaining friends. If an ex doesn't treat you like a friend, then he or she isn't a friend. And if your ex is not, it is time to cut your losses, move on as quickly as possible, and never let him or her back in.

Berit "Brit" Brogaard is the author of On Romantic Love.