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Why Being Friends with Your Ex May Not be Good for You

be friends with my exWhen people say, “I just want to stay friends with my ex,” I assume they are well-intended. But is it a good idea? I’m not so sure.

Three Reasons People Want to Stay Friends with Their Ex

  1. They think it is best for the children.
  2. They still love their ex.
  3. They still view their ex as their best friend.

Do you see yourself in that list?

Let’s take a look at each of these reasons to see what makes staying friends a questionable idea.

We Need to Stay Friends for the Children

Actually, you do best to stay cordial to one another. Being comfortable enough with your ex to go to your children’s events at the same time blesses your children. But being able to work together for the good of your children doesn’t necessitate friendship.

Friendships entail an emotional involvement that may not be good for your children or you. If you and your ex are acting like friends you may be doing your children an injustice. Sharing your day, discussing life’s challenges, and socializing together may give your children false hope that you will be reunited in marriage. When this doesn’t happen, kids once again experience a loss.

I Still Love My Ex

One of the great challenges of healing the pain of divorce is being able to let go of emotional bonds.  Breaking the bonds of marriage can be very difficult, especially if you didn’t want the divorce.  Trying to maintain a friendship with your ex can be emotionally confusing to you and stifle your ability to let go of the past and heal.

My Ex has Been My Best Friend for Years

It is hard to let go, even when the other person has made it clear they no longer want to be married to you.  Trying to stay friends may seem like it will make the break up easier.  It likely won’t and may even make it harder.

Prolonging the process of letting go of your spouse complicates the dynamics of your new relationship as two people who are no longer married to each other. Since moving beyond divorce means letting go, making a defining break rather than dragging it out makes sense.

A defining break says, I am me, you are you, and we are no longer us.

Hanging on to friendship with your former spouse even when reconciliation is not possible also has the potential to interfere with future relationships. Think about it. Would you want to become romantically involved with someone who is still close to a former spouse? Probably not.

The New You

Having a civil working relationship with your ex is essential to the good of your children but don’t confuse that with friendship. Work on breaking your emotional ties to your ex and establishing your own identity as a single person. Once your relationship is re-defined as two independent adults you improve your chances of having a cordial relationship that is not confused by the past.


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV


Healing from divorce and moving on with your life is full of challenges.  Leaning on God can make all the difference.  He still loves you very much.

Ponder this reading and share your thoughts with God. Listen so that the Holy Spirit might fill you with wisdom and peace. What concrete actions do you need to take based on what God is saying to you?

This post is adapted from the book, Peace after Divorce by Renee Smith Ettline.


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