Avatar star Zoe Saldana recently revealed that she doesn’t stay friends with her exes, telling Marie Claire, “There’s a reason why you’re called an ex. I crossed you off my list. Moving on. You cross a line, you need to know that you’re going to walk this earth knowing that there’s an individual who has no respect for you.”
While Saldana may be taking this stance and initially making a clean break is smart, completely cutting your former guy out of your life isn’t always the right move, experts say.
“Break ups are a loss, and with any loss, we need time to mourn,” says Monica O’Neal, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and relationship expert. “It’s only through the mourning process that we can appropriately and accurately reflect upon our past behavior in our relationships, develop insights about why we chose certain relationships, and ultimately have some acceptance about its ending.”
After that period of no contact, you can decide if you want your ex to be part of your life.
O’Neal says if there was any type of abuse, substance abuse, or illegal activity, or if you or your ex have a mental health history that may cause either of you to engage in dangerous behavior, you should not consider keeping him in your life.
But in any other circumstance, being friends can be appropriate, especially if your ex was a significant part of your life before you started dating. Debbie Magids, Ph.D., a counseling psychologist and author, warns that in order for a friendship to work, both parties must have no sexual desire, and if either of you starts dating someone else, you should befriend his new S.O., and he should do the same.
As far as any mutual friends you have, never speak ill of your ex to them, O’Neal recommends. If you need to vent (and it’s fine if you do), choose friends who aren’t close to your ex.