Relationship Advice

Gallery: 10 things you should never do after a break-up


1. Stay ‘friends’

1.	 Stay ‘friends’
Picture 1 of 10

If there was only one thing we could tell you about what not to do after a break-up this would be it. Staying friends with your ex post break-up is a terrible idea. If it’s because you feel guilty, then all you’re doing is leading them on. And if it’s because you think you have a chance of getting back together then you’re just setting yourself up for more hurt.

Potentially, you might salvage a friendship from the wreckage some time down the line, but when you’re emotionally raw you need time apart from the source of your hurt. If you burnt your hand on a fire, you wouldn’t return to the fire to try and soothe your burn would you?

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87 thoughts on “Gallery: 10 things you should never do after a break-up

  1. Peacehappiness, you might just have to admit that some people have different views. You did miss one from your list, tho sadly one you seem not to have encountered – a woman who can be friends with a man, without being unfaithful to anyone, simply because she happens to care about that person as a friend. My male friends don’t disrupt my relationships, any more than any of my other commitments do.

    “I am not trying to dictate how many exes the love of my like can be friends with or who is she can flirt with on facebook, i am just saying that not doing this should come from her voluntarily (because she is loyal to me and has integrity) and if it doesn’t and if she needs attention from other men still after i am her boyfriend then i will drop her and move onto someone with integrity who gives me 100% that i deserve which is what i will give her.
    i am not saying that it is not possible for women to be friends with men especially when they are both older i.e. 60 and above and the men are gay.”

    Well basically you are being dictatorial, though you have wriggled around to try to avoid admitting this. What it amounts to is still ‘drop any contact with other men, or I leave’. You might see that as a choice, but it’s hardly one that allows for any compromise. And I keep meaning to ask, but what do you mean by 100%? 100% of what? Not her time, that would be impossible. Sexual fidelity, yes. But friendship and any feelings of loyalty? Really? You expect a person to look solely to you for all that?
    And for goodness sake, what on earth do you think happens at 60? I’ve known people in their 60s and 70s who have divorced or split up and got together with someone new. Fidelity comes about through maturity and dealing with your feelings, not hiding them, trying to deny them, or pretending they will somehow dissolve with age.

  2. As for your stereotypes peacehappiness, which you claim only apply to a minority of women and may also apply to men, they are offensive. They obviously do not also apply to men, as the term ‘gold digger’ is used exclusively for women. Plus, you are arguing that ‘acting like a man’ and being ‘masculine’ are problematic – now why would that be problematic for men? And whilst you say this applies to a minority, you seem to think you are covering all women who want to keep male friends, and yet you have no idea if that group is a minority or not.

    You are wary of women if they are ‘gold diggers’ and yet you dislike women who are ambitious, seeing this as a masculine quality (really? Where do you live? 1952?) So you are saying that women cannot gain what they want through men (gold diggers), or for themselves (ambitious). The reasons to stay away from someone competitive and ambitious are not obvious, unless your own self esteem is so low that you cannot cope with successful women. As for needing a psychiatrist – really? What on earth are you talking about. All the work that has been done recently to make people realise how important mental health is and you resort to that kind of mockery? And you seriously think that having male friends might mark a woman out as being mentally ill? Shame on you.

  3. thepeacehappiness

    August 7, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    caro and judith, you two seem to have gotten your knickers in a twist and twisting what is being said.

    In my opinion and as onmyowntwo (another women) said, hanging out with exes is pathetic and overwhelming evidence shows that it does not make your new love comfortable – end of story.

    to clarify my other point – I do not find masculine women attractive nor do i want to date women that hang out with their exes sorry. luckily there are many of those that are femenine (i beleive majority) and come w/o exessive emotional baggage such as Exes disguised as ‘friends’ as Judith says she likes to intorduce them as to her new potential boyfriends.

    if we have 1-3 good friends we are lucky, whats the point of having all these ex goyfriends that you didnt want in the first place now as friends. its nonsense.

    by 100% i mean total comittment loyalty and trust.

    I see Eharmony have taken up my suggestion and are asking if it would make people comfortable if their new love was hangning out with exes and the feedback proves that most people would not find it OK.

    Next article please.

  4. very interesting discussion. someone asked whats is wrong with masculine women – nothing, just no man wants to date them because they act like men and its a major turnoff for any man that is stright. Re being friends with ex boyfriends, please grow up judith what self respecting man wants a girfriend with tones of baggage like that.

  5. Actually, justanother, there was a far, far more subtle argument in there about what it means to act like a man and how ambition is NOT a male attribute, nor is being ambitious masculine. Sadly, this went right over your head.

    Peace – it went over your head too. And when it comes to twisting words, I thought you were twisting mine. Now I think your mind is just too closed to be able to understand them.

  6. “Re being friends with ex boyfriends, please grow up judith what self respecting man wants a girfriend with tones of baggage like that.”

    I assume you mean either ‘tons’ or ‘tonnes’ although imagining baggage with a particular tone is interesting.

    I find it very odd, and not a little sad, that people cannot see that sometimes men and women can be just friends. And sometimes, when a relationship ends, you realise that actually, you are mature enough to repair some kind of relationship. It’s an odd and very cynical view of human nature that somehow one is only doing that because they want to have sex with their ex.

    This is hardly ‘baggage’, just a mature attitude to relationships. And the phrase ‘grow up’? I always assume that will be followed by a rather petulant and juvenile whine. I wasn’t disappointed.

  7. thepeacehappiness

    August 12, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    judif – you asked why it was ‘problematic’ if a women acts like a man and is masculine and you got your answer – no one wants to date them – now live with it.

    Yes – exes lurking in the background is emotional baggage – as you are unable to get over then and therefore not fully available for a new relationship. This applies to both men and women. Now go live with that too.

  8. Well said justanotherman,I for one as a man would not be in the slightest bit interested in dating a woman who chooses to keep in contact with her exes,that to me is baggage,baggage which quite frankly I want no part in whatsoever,if I wanted to deal with somebody elses baggage,then I would apply for a job as a baggage handler at Manchester Airport!I get the impression quite honestly that a lot of women out there are to be blunt quite happy to lead on new boyfriends by still being emotionally involved with them,and no doubt this quite often results in them having full penetrative sexual intercourse with them behind a new boyfriends back,yes that is quite a blunt statement but quite often true,and given some of the comments here by women,well you frankly give me the impression that YOU YES YOU would happliy do this.So let me put it to you(as Brian Walden said)Would YOU be if I was your boyfriend be happy if I kept in regular contact with ex girlfriends,and ending up having penetrative sex with them behind YOUR back?I think ladies and gentlemen we all know what the answer to that question is don’t we,and the answer it should be.

    Where I come from(Manchester)most of us see things as they REALLY are,and for what they are,not the bullshit that some may think.

  9. The guy I saw twice and have been contacted for two month just broke up with me today, said he was not ready to move on. Hello!! twice and want a commitment! I am not desperate to have myself tie down but he decided to break up anyway so sad but I am glad early than later. Anyone have the same experience?

  10. Consideraton should be given to the fact these research results are from the USA, it should be noted that this is a generalisation and not ‘rule f thumb’ after all its not a case of 1 size fits all. As for spending the rest of your life on your own, I hoped that was the case – alas it is not to be after nealy 20 years (yes I have really tried many sites over many years) – the one person I really liked – I found she could not tell the truth even if her life depended on it.
    so in a weeks time this is my last week, I reluctantly conceed defeat.

    Shame really :(

  11. * oops correction *

    Consideraton should be given to the fact these research results are from the USA, it should be noted that this is a generalisation and not ‘rule f thumb’ after all its not a case of 1 size fits all. As for spending the rest of your life on your own, I hoped that was not to be the case – alas it is not to be after nealy 20 years (yes I have really tried many sites over many years) – the one person I really liked – I found she could not tell the truth even if her life depended on it.
    so in a weeks time this is my last week, I reluctantly conceed defeat.

    Shame really

  12. I pretty much had the same experience has you. I met a guy a couple months ago who seemed really nice, to top it off we share the same birthday. (month,day, year). We went out for two month then suddenly there was no calls or text from him. I tried to find out what i had done wrong but got no reply to my messages. This experience has left me shattered and i think you just can’t trust anyone.

  13. So – he is too good to be true – you knew something was not quite right and his story did not add up to his actions – but you went there anyway! Got hurt! End of – lesson learnt!

  14. excellent comment no 58.

  15. I have completely forgotten all about the lightweight advise of the article and utterly enjoyed the resulting discussions. This is the first article that i have read but after this i think i will read more in the future. I must say Judith & Caro…what a great job! I guess it is as you both have said “each to their own” on this one. In my experience it takes wisdom, maturity and self awareness to understand the concept of friendship with Ex’s. But if you are operating from a more fearful and controlling place, then it would appear to be a! It has been a real joy to read some of the exchanges as well as a real eye opener too.

    I have found that the one of the most attractive features of any person is their ability to think, reason and be open to learn something new and well as their quiet confidence that comes from a person who understands the real value of LOVE. And i guess it would also seem to work the other way! Once again thank you for reminding me of this

  16. Well Moore,I don’t know what that bloke meant by saying he couldn’t move on,and I doubt it will ever be known whether or not he wanted a full blown relationship with you,but whatever the case is,you are probably better off without him,so maybe it is better if this goes no further,for both parties.

  17. Tracy – the one comment that comes to mind is – ‘If its too good to be true – then it it is!’

    Dont paint everyone with the same brush I am sure they can say hand on heart ‘been there – done that’


  18. thepeacehappiness

    September 1, 2012 at 10:05 PM

    to add to my comment (no.44)
    My recent research has identified one more group that likes to keep exes lurking in the background: Sociopaths – like to hoard exes because they feel they own them, they are unable to feel anything beyond attraction and banging exes regardless of how the relationship ended is still ok with them as they are unable to distinguish right from wrong.

  19. I haven’t done online dating before joining eharmony recently, so this thread of conversation is a huge eye opener to me. And from some of the comments, shockingly worrying if are actually serious (or this could just be a humorous ‘stereotypical’ send up?). I haven’t heard such a lot of short sighted and judgmental opinions since i was a teenager! Am am truly amazed that there would appear to be fully grown adults out there that hold some of these narrow and fearful views on what makes for a ‘good’ relationship.

    I have been divorced for 8 years and am great friends with my ex-husband. No one was involved in our separation, just a mutual and honest realisation that we didn’t make each happy in a marriage. We share 2 well balanced and loving children and enjoy attending school social events together. I can assure anyone reading this, that if you have real integrity and take a honest & mature approach, this is not only possible it is deeply rewarding to be able to develop a good friendship with an ex. Neither of us have ever contemplated re-igniting our relationship in anyway or indeed ever would. I also had a relationship with a man 2 years after my divorce, which lasted for 5 years. We choose the end the relationship nearly a year ago now, and we are still good friends now. We don’t see each other very often (apart from occasionally working together) but we do speak from time to time.

    So, i offer the possibility that there is most definitely another more balanced category of Ex’s to consider…. that is one based on mutual respect, a balanced view and a mature self confidence. As for any new potential partner who felt it his right to raise an objection to any of my ‘friendships’…then i would consider that a reflection of his low self esteem and inability to see past his own damaged history & insecurities. As such, i would think that we weren’t well matched both emotionally or intellectually, so it would just dissolve.

    I believe that the potential for real love is based on honesty and trust, where 2 people accept and hold each other in respectful care & appreciation for who they are as a genuine person…this is no place for controlling fears and some weird kind of ‘ownership”.

  20. thepeacehappiness

    September 3, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    loyalty honesty and trust means that – you will drop all your exes (emotional baggage) to make the new love of your life comfortable that is your job as a woman to make your man comfortable, unless of course you need to see your ex because of children.

  21. Goodness me ‘thepeacehappiness’ it would appear that you seem to have a great deal of (as you describe) ‘emotional baggage’ to deal with in your life, and with all due respect you may need to seek some help to feel more comfortable with yourself. I cannot of course speak for the women you have met in your life, but the thought that you believe that it is HER job to make your feel comfortable, is quite remarkable. If your measure of feeling comfortable with a women depends on her changing her genuine friendships to accommodate your insecurities then i would think that you are unlikely to find a women who truly understands the meaning of integrity. I am sure you are a very nice person with a great deal to offer a partner but it might be worth taking a long look at what sits behind your own rather fearful opinions. I think feeling confident and relaxed about yourself first will go a long way to removing the need to control others in this way. Once you have, I am sure you will begin to attract women with the real integrity you seek and enjoy a relationship where honesty and trust is mutual.

  22. i can only repeat what i said a above and Robert said in comment 58 and what justanotherman and onmyowntwo (a female!!!) have said – its been said already over and over again – ex boyfriend lurking in bakgroud render you emotionally unavailable to date a new man as you are still attached to your exes unless you lie and mislead the bew man. No amound of insults directed towards me and others saying this to you will change things and make you more desireable to men. sorry. of course it is for the woman to make the love of her life comfortable in a relationship. When it comes to considering you as a long terms girfriend it will not make majority of men comfortable if you are running around with your exes. If a girl asks me to be her boyfriend i always ask if there are exes in the picture, if she says yes i dont make her the girlfriend if she says no and then i discover she lied i dump her, this has hapened a number of times. there are good women out there with integrity and with no exes, the reason someone is an ex its because he/she is history, keeping in ‘touch’ is generally not good news and not someone i would recommend anyone goes inot a long term relationship with. sorry

  23. Self confidence, the ability to reason, think and live by your own values i don’t believe is gender related, so because one person of the opposite sex might agree doesn’t make it the truth for everyone. Men & women can share the same beliefs systems and i guess this is part of what eharmony process does by matching people. Some people seem to find that hard to understand here. No matter how many times you state your view of the world as an absolute fact, doesn’t make it so. We will all have our own preferences, this enables people to be share mutual attraction. Some people (male & female) feel that any ex’s are a threat, and will end a potential love based on that fact alone. These people will attract each other and no doubt will entry a relationship based on no ex’s or indeed opposite sex friends, as it would seem for them, that this is a prerequisite to love. Whilst others, will choose to make their own balanced decisions from a position of self confidence and a mature attitude. So i guess we will attract liked minded partners, which has got to be a good thing.

  24. well karen, i dont disagree with with you on your lat point, i was with these older friends last night and his wife said to him that if he went on this tour with his band and left her alone she would have another man ‘friend’ sleeping in her bed, he just laughed it off. they dont have kids. but for majority of couples especially those with kids this kind of ‘love’ would be destructive and extemiliy irritating to one of the partners or both and especially to the kids.

  25. …and what kind of children can couples like that raise ? i want my children to grow in a loving family where mother and father respect each other and are loyal to each other.

  26. Well that’s great; we agree to differ….I believe this is progress! Your friends sound like they might have a humorous side, but who ever really knows what goes on inside other peoples relationships. But if you take these comments with a degree of truth, it sounds like they have very little trust between them and a great deal of manipulation and even emotional blackmail going on. They clearly don’t feel secure in their relationship with each other. If they did, you would delight in your partner doing something they loved to do and not feel threatened by it and therefore would resort to using emotional manipulation.

    We first learn a lot about love as children and carry these early lessons with us for most of our lives, whether we recognise it or not. So the children of a couple similar to your friends, will learn some very ‘twisted’ ideas about love, trust and mutual respect and no doubt will spend many years of their adult lives trying to find a healthy balance, if indeed they ever do.

    As parents we have a great deal of responsibility to help our children to become happy well balanced adults. I consider it my job, along with my ex, to bring our children up in a loving caring environment, where mutual respect, trust and honesty are corner stones of our integrity. I am very pleased to say that they have never seen either of their parents attempting to manipulate and control one another whether that be through threats (as your friends above) or dictating who the other one is allowed to have as friends. They also have seen great deal of trust, honesty and confidence to be themselves throughout there lives. I hope when they grow up these are the qualities that they will seek in a partner themselves.

  27. hi Karen, i am glad you are doing your best for your children. I understand that you have no choice but to keep in touch with your ex becuase of children and i beleive this is the right thing to do. I’ve learned from my dad that when i am living with a woman (my partner) she is the only one, he told me he had 3-4 girls he was dating at the time he met my mom but as soon as they got together those girls were history – not friends or anything like that. still also agree with above comments from eharmony, robert, peace, onmyowntoo, at al and see no reason to keep exes around unless of course there are children involved like in your case then of course those little angels are most important and like you said must learn the right values.

  28. I haven’t spoken to me ex since she kept phoning in July 2010 keep asking “Divorce” paper and my lawyer had to sort her out. I got very heart broken when she run away without saying or talking, And there no need to have any contact with her as we had no children with me and she dont even contact her own son. I also save me caring for her 24x7x52 day every year.

  29. Oh.Darn.. probably done all those things. It was my first rel over 15 years ago and have never really recovered since we split. No girlfriend since then and now very scared of another rel in case the same happens again. Should have taken all the advice above but did not know what to do. I still want to be friends but she has never been interested…

  30. You can be friends with benefits with your ex!!!

  31. These are general guidelines, but from my experiences, every relationship is as unique as each human being is from one another, and therefore just trust in doing what you feel is moral, and what you are comfortable with. In my adult relationships, the friends and sex parts warned against in this issue caused no trouble at all. With one ex boyfriend, we continued to have sex for months after the very friendly relationship ended mutually after 2 years together. We were very close friends for over a year before we started dating, so we genuinely cared about each other, like family. In all honesty, we always should have just stayed friends, but in no way regretted dating either. Continuing sex for a few months after the breakup allowed us to still connect on one level and slowly ease out of being intimate with each other. At the time I had also found new psychology research stating that this was often healthy behavior for people that were honest about the situation. We also were stuck in an apt lease together so we saw each other daily. Once we stopped being intimate and were looking elsewhere, we also respected each others’ sensitivities to not bringing new people we were dating over to the apt, just to avoid any potential weirdness.

    We are also in the same career field and share many common goals and interests, and so help each other as sort of colleagues. We re-opened the lines of friendship about 7 months after the breakup, once we lived separately too. To this day we are still friends, just not as close as before b/c I want to make sure we never fall back in the same trap of dating. I am able to maintain a purely platonic friendship with him and also be very happy with my current boyfriend.
    It’s just my current boyfriend who doesn’t respect my ex b/c they are such opposites. He therefore makes me feel weird about me occasionally hanging out with my ex, despite my huge assurances, and many reasons why I do not see my ex as dating potential. My ex feels like an old friend and a family member from our long history together. My boyfriend also knows I have very few good friends around anymore (2 total including ex!), and we both want me to have that friend balance so I’m not always depending on him to socialize. I wish I didn’t allow my new boyfriend to guilt me about my ex, when I truly adore my boyfriend. I’d like advice on that! :)

  32. so true i stayed friends with my ex boyfriend and it was so awkward because we got close and i i got my heart broken again.

  33. My partner & I split today, she is 38 & beautiful, to me anyway.
    We were going to get married next year as well.
    She was in an abuse, controlling & cheating relationship for 15 years but I thought I could make her happy.
    I was over nice to her, to compensate for this, doing everything a man should do in a proper relationship & I helped financially.
    The way she ended it was ruthless, no feelings or consideration for me at all, that really smarts at the moment.
    She wants to stay friends.
    Should I block her from everything
    Should I delete all photo memories?

  34. Keeping people in your life who have already demonstrated no regard for you or your feelings can only lead to more pain. You send them the message that it’s ok to stomp on your heart and your feelings and you’ll stay there and let them hurt you over and over. There are so many other people in the world, you will find someone who really cares for you, a lot quicker without the baggage of your past relationships.

    Friends don’t treat friends nearly as bad as lovers who fight, break up, or just don’t really care about each other, so how can you “remain” friends after a break-up when you weren’t really friends to begin with? Why stay friends with someone if you have both agreed you are not satisfied with your arrangement, amicable or not?

    I have exes that were abusive and I have learned to make better choices, I never want to see any of them again. I have some ex’s that were not abusive, but we broke up because we weren’t right for each other. It gets more difficult to find true love the older you get, and we will all run out of time eventually. I have learned that Life is too short to waste the precious little time you have left for loving the RIGHT person, on a remaining friends with someone who was a waste of your time and your life in the first place. PLUS, you don’t need to drag your future RIGHT person’s heart and feelings through hell just to remain friends with someone who, let’s face it, doesn’t really matter in the long run, and who will most likely not be a part of your life after they find someone else.

    Let them go, move on yourself, and find TRUE love before it’s too late. Now I’m happily married, but I can’t tolerate ex’s. I have no use for someone who will eventually end up being a third wheel anyway, sticking around in my life. Sayonara.

  35. Sandy and peacehappiness all have the correct answers. I date a number of 40+ women myself and found that the ones with lurking exes usually end up cheating on me later on. What’s alarming is that, you can have sex with these 40+ women and they will have sex with their exes from time to time unprotected. Yes, because they believe that 40+ with the pill guaranteed no pregnancy. What about sexual diseases — they don’t really care at all. They have these I don’t care whatever happens to me or to my body as long as my heart is filled with love; albeit empty love from sex and attention from these exes.

    The majority of the reason why these women keep exes in the background because they do not have the ability to love themselves due to their insecurity and low-self esteem. So they chase external sources of love from their exes because they know how to give it to them, but because these external sources are not ever lasting, they go and search for new boyfriends to maintain their fix. They are love deprived junkies just like an addicted heroine junkie. Another tell tale sign of these girls with little and no self-love is their friends. They either have all male straight or gay friends (mainly gay) or very few female friends. It’s not that they don’t have lots of friends; they do but these women aren’t willing to open their hearts wide open because they fortified their hearts with a bullet proof vests due to their prior relationships being burned. They remain with these so called friends at an associate level. It’s sad though, because these the real friends who can heal and open their hearts back. Unfortunately, time isn’t on their side as they will quickly age. When you reach past your 40s and into your 50s, your chances of getting your true love will start to diminish. And your exes also get older, but are they going to be there for you as you both age? Chances are, nope because they will change as they age too.

    What happens if they find new love? Are you willing to let go of him then? Are you going to be jealous and be a train wreck for his relationship with a new girl.

    I have met and dated these girls and the majority of them go on the wrecking spree, because they believe is that, if they are not married or in a LTR, then should their exes be too. It’s normal. Jealously feeds on jealously and I find that a lot of women here who support keeping exes in touch are just jealous of their exe eventually hook up with a nice girl and eventual marriage.

  36. Phil,

    Forget her completely. Dump her photos, emails and phone number. If you see her in a public place, just say hi and a few complements and then walk away. Don’t be rude as you are a gent, but clearly the relationship is over.

    When a woman has a deep emotional mileage with her ex and eventhough the relationship is fraught with abuse and whatnot, she still has feelings for him. These feelings will need to be released by her alone, her free will by means of forgiveness and self-love. Obviously, this means a woman must have high self-esteem in order to administer forgiveness and self-love like a woman who is willing to forgive a rapist for raping her and even praying for him in jail will lead on a happy life with her real new man.

    Your girlfriend should had forgiven this ex for his abuse and acts and simply move on. Clear her heart with her own self-love and then be available to you. You can not fix a damsel in distress because her heart wasn’t open to you. She was only open to her ex or exes. A lot of women out there try to rationalize that it’s ok to keep in touch with exes, but what they are doing is that, they got so hurt they aren’t willing to move on and be really alone for an extended period time and meet new friends. I mean, there are tons of females out there she can be friends with, and you can easily meet them at meetup groups. Why is she then still talking and friending her exes?

    I have a number of female associate friends who I talk to; most of them are already married and almost all said they detest women talking to their exes. In fact, if they meet befriended a woman who still talks to her ex-boyfriend, they would all do the girly talk with her.

    That’s probably why they are afraid of being friends with true high self-esteem females, because they probably tried to and go dejected.

  37. I was married for 15 years, still friendly, next relationship 10 years still friendly, last one 4 years, hate the woman, so it depends on the person and how you finished , and the hate one by the way ( no cheating) . And when you say friends, well that is open, I would call it speaking terms, could not imagine going out for the day with an ex, unless there was an ulterior motive. (Looking to get back etc) you cannot tell me that you would not be thinking about the
    past good and bad at some stage.

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