two people talking and walking together
Willie B. Thomas/Getty Images

Should you be friends with your ex? It is an old question that is frequently debated with different opinions.

You are knee-deep in making a pros and cons list after your friends issued an emphatic “hell no” and a few said “go for it”

The stage is for the deliberation. It is a complex space to navigate. I am talking about getting real about your intentions, the type that separates lustful fantasies from reality.

If you are looking for reassurance on being friends with an ex, consider these aspects.

If you still reminisce about the times you shared with each other, it is likely to be a recipe for dumpster fire.

Not a shred of judgment here — there’s nothing wrong with indulging in good memories. But if you’re trying to leave the door open when the relationship ended for clear reasons, you’ll do yourself a disservice in the long run.

We all know the “broke up but still sleeping together” story, whether telling it ourselves or hearing it from a friend. It may be downright thrilling and sinfully delicious in the short run, but more often than not, it results in Break Up: The Sequel.

Disclaimer: Have I always taken my own advice here? Absolutely not, but hey, self-awareness is everything. It’s perfectly OK to learn as we go.

The romantic attraction has faded like a fine sunset. You look fondly upon the old memories but aren’t clinging to them. The curtains have closed on the mental rehearsal of old stories. There’s no longing for more.

It can be comforting to keep in touch in the hopes of getting things back to normal, but that can become torturous waiting game with no end in sight. It basically holds you hostage from other lovers.

It’s natural to still have feelings for your ex after your relationship ends, so try not to guilt yourself. Sometimes, it feels like those feelings might never dissipate — but having space and time apart is the ultimate remedy, not diving into a platonic friendship before you’re ready.

“I want to say, save yourself the pain. Don’t focus on anyone. It will get better in time.”

“It doesn’t have to be a bad break up, but it should have been civil enough to be friends. Even if you have hurt feelings, you have to trust each other.”

“It wasn’t a romantic fit, so make sure you break up.”

Sure, maybe you tossed out some of their old things in a hurricane of sadness. So, long as the relationship wasn’t toxic or straight-up dangerous, friendship could be on the table.

People can certainly change, but it can be hard to tell if an ex-partner is committed to doing the work. Keep an open heart, but never go back to a dangerous situation.

Have you forgiven each other for the times that you hit the fan? You are opening up a box if not.

Forgiveness takes time. Even the most well-intentioned and emotionally intelligent people are capable of hurting others. We’re all human, after all.

Lingering resentment can make it difficult to move forward with a platonic friendship, so give it some thought. Have you buried the hatchet for good, or do you have one hand gripping a shovel waiting to dig it up?

The experience of being around them in person and the emotions that may bring up are two things to consider.

Imagine if you had a lazy mid-lunch social media scroll and a photo of your ex appeared with their arm draped around someone else.

Do you like cucumber or do you like skydiving? You will know what you need to know when you feel that bodily reaction.

“We all know that when we haven’t gotten over them, we saw my ex with someone new.”

If the thought of them with someone else makes you want to A) lose your lunch, B) set a bunch of stuff on fire, or C) beeline toward a box of tissues, you’re not ready yet. Time heals all — you’ll get there.

The advent of social media made it harder for people to get over their ex.

Most of us have indulged in a one-off “what are they up to now” profile creep session out of curiosity, but if you’re playing games on how you interact with them on social media, it’s a no-go.

I’m talking to you, chronic Instagram story viewers, and anyone who posts something specifically to catch their ex’s attention. The tough love answer is: You’re making this a lot harder for yourself.

It is natural to get a dopamine hit from these types of things, but too fixating on digital interactions is a red flag. It is a sign that you need more distance.

“It’s difficult to understand how someone can shift into friendship immediately after a break up, and expect it to be done in 2 minutes.”

While I can’t speak for every relationship throughout history, taking time apart post-breakup is an undeniably healthy route.

You will have time to process and let your feelings go. It is a bit of a puzzle if your social lives are interwoven.

You could read the whole article and do a little analysis at each section, but you may have already known from the beginning.

A friendship with an ex can be rewarding, but it is not a good idea to have a relationship or be in contact with them.

Accepting the transience of connection and moving forward on your own path will give you much more peace than holding onto a past flame when there is no longer alignment.

Sarah Lempa is a writer and the founder of Dang Fine Creative, a digital content agency providing social media, copywriting, and email marketing to small businesses and solopreneurs. She covers travel lifestyle, mental health, and solopreneurship, with work appearing in Business Insider, VICE, and HuffPost, among others. When she’s not chipping away at a piece, you’ll find her jamming out to groovy beats or riding a motorcycle. Keep up with Sarah on Instagram.