I have seen a large number of threads in this forum pointing out either partner, or both, wanting to 'be friends' after a breakup.
I decided to do some research on this topic, and post it here for all those encountering the dilemma to review and understand. I will break down many common reasons why we tend to believe being friends or communicating with your ex after a breakup is healthy or normal. I hope everyone finds this useful!
The Big Question: Why? Why does my ex want to be friends? Why do I want to be friends with my ex?
Answer: After a breakup, there is a huge hole in your life. You likely went from spending many hours a week together to none. Humans are creature of habit, and when a habit breaks we seek to restore or compensate for it. Imagine if you had another man/woman you could to crawl into bed with after a breakup. You probably would, wouldn't you? That is you filling the void; and a reason why its not your 'ex' that you want to stay in touch with, but anyone who will fill the gap that was your ex.
Reason 1: I actually have a lot of good reasons to stay in touch...
Truth: No. You have a lot of excuses, not reasons.
Reason 2: This person was really important in my life, why wouldn't we stay friends? We mean a lot to each other.
Truth: They were really important. If your ex is the one trying to be friends, it's not that they actually want you back, its that they are having a hard time getting over the relationship. The same for vise versa. And don't kid yourself, if you stayed friends you wouldn't have the same standards you keep as with any other friend. You are subconsciously seeing yourself as with this person still.
Reason 3: I need closure, I need to stay in touch to get over him/her.
Truth: Nope, closure isn't provided by your ex, it is provided by you, through grieving and accepting your loss.
Reason 4: I need to find out why he/she dumped me, -Or- I need to let him/her know why I dumped them.
Truth: What does it matter? You can't change your ex's way of thinking. There was something incompatible about you two and it's not going to change overnight. Hearing or giving a laundry list of reasons for being dumped or dumping them is not going to get you two back together. It will only make you become more insecure.
Reason 5: If we stay friends we may get back together again.
Truth: It could happen, but it will fail again. Without time alone to grieve, you are both bound for the same fate. You are each continuing to pick the scabs of the relationship, never letting them completely heal. You are also likely to be self destructive during this time; you are probably trying to 'fix' everything thing that was wrong to make your ex happy. This type of behavior leads to resentment. With resentment, you are incapable of loving. You are not yourself.
Reason 6: I need to return some items or retrieve some.
Truth: Like what? Your soap? These exchanges should occur within the first day or two. Anything that you 'need' after that time probably wasn't really 'needed', and is rather an excuse to see your ex. Any gifts you received or gave should remain with the recipient. A gift does not belong to the giver, but the receiver. This type of behavior could further damage yourself. What if they have already moved on and you run into their new mate? See what I mean?
Reason 7: We had great sex, and want to be friends with benefits now.
Truth: Again, not accepting your loss. You are probably assuming it is still exclusive, which really means you still see it as a relationship; which it is not. This behavior is likely to lead to confusion, insecurity (over pondering what they are doing when you are not together), and believe it will lead back to a relationship. Also, it prevents you from moving on. You aren't going to find your next partner while still sleeping with your ex.
Reason 8: We work at the same place, live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, we have children, etc.
Truth: This may be, but it does not imply you need to have consistent generic communication. If you work at the same place, keep conversation brief and work related. If same school, its ok to say hi passing each other in the hallway. Have kids together? Keep the conversation in relation to them. Anything outside of these boundaries is an excuse to keep in contact with your ex, and again, preventing you from grieving and moving on.
Conclusion: Play out any of these in your head. How do honestly picture them going? That's right, not well, in fact it may even make it worse. Do you really believe your ex will magically become 'the one' by staying friends with them? Will they magically get that sex drive back? Trust you around your friends? Be more open about their feelings? Spend more time with you? The answer is no, and if so, only temporarily until they become comfortable again. If it hurts when you do that, don't do it.
Closing Statement: Its hard, but is necessary. DO NOT CONTACT OR RESPOND TO YOUR EX!!!