This is a juicy one, no? Lots of arguments for and against. In essence of course it depends on the individual dynamic involved, and also, if you have children together where it’s less of a choice and more of a necessity. On balance if you don’t have kids I tend to come down on the side of “no contact”. Here’s why:
1. It’s harder to move on when you stay in contact.
I see so many clients who are stuck from moving into the glorious future that awaits them because they can’t bear to completely let go. Basically, the longer contact is drawn out the more the misery is prolonged. It’s like waxing. If the beautician peeled the wax strip of a few millimeters at the time it would be prolonged agony before you get defuzzed. But no, she whips that strip off in one swift decisive snap. Yes it smarts and the eyes water but, it’s all over in a few moments. If there is going to be pain, and in a breakup that’s kinda inevitable, it can either be dragged out or short and sharp.
2. Do not try and get over them by getting under them.
You know what I am saying! Break-Up sex is very, very rarely a good idea.
3. When you stay in contact you can be energetically “blocking” the relationship space in your life from someone new.
Not good. Opening up that space with clean clear energy makes it much more likely that you will subsequently attract Mr. or Ms. Right. Fact. Open up the space for something better.
4. The whole “lets just be friends” thing.
You know sometimes ”Let’s just be friends” can often be offered as come sort of consolation prize. It’s just a way of assuaging guilt over the breakup, either yours or theirs. You know what: don’t you already have enough friends? You didn’t get into the relationship to be friends did you? It was a romantic relationship, so if it’s not that any longer then do you want some sort of consolation prize? You deserve more than that sugar.
5. Staying friends can be really painful if they move on quicker than they do.
If you see the new girlfriend/boyfriend, or they go on to marry the next person they date, or you are seeing all the fabulous stuff they are up to in Facebook. It’s becomes a mechanism to keep triggering pain. Much better not to surely?
When there are kiddies involved its clearly much more complicated. Things to think about:
1. Can you keep contact polite yet transactional?
Take the emotion out. Keep it to times for drop off and pick up and so on. One couple I know have a note book that gets handed back and forth with their son. In the book they write details on his sleep, eating and so on. It means they can be consistent with their parenting boundaries (no sweets before dinner) but not have to have endless back and forth conversations. It keeps it transactional but ensures their child gets the most consistent parenting their situation allows.
2. Get the tricky stuff done through a third party.
Let a lawyer take care of the tough conversations so you can make the day to day as workable as possible.
3. Get the important stuff in writing.
Payments to be made to what account, for how much and when. Who is paying for the school uniforms etc. It’s much easier to do this thoroughly once (subject to periodic review) than fight every battle on an ‘as and when’ basis. Set your boundaries and re-enforce them on a consistent basis.
4. Obviously you know this one, you put the needs of the kids first.
Keep it as clean as you can. And drop the guilt, you are doing the best you can for them in a difficult situation. Guilt does not enhance what is already tricky, so let it go. You are doing your best honey, that’s all anyone can ask. Use that emotional energy for good instead.
So, ultimately this is a really mixed question. To stay in contact or not? I have a number of clients who have a great relationship with their ex, and they are still a part of their lives. I have many, many more who wish they broke off contact many years previously because that continued contact has held them back and ultimately caused them so much more pain. And I have many parents doing their best to manage the juggle of children between them with good grace and good humour. None of these options is easy! Choosing to do what feels clean and healthy for you is the way to go. It’s about what’s healthy for YOU (if there are no kids involved). If you don’t want to stay friends, don’t. Wish each other well, make some subtle shifts to your social circle and don’t look back.
Need a recap of the series so far? Here you go;
Part One: How not to let the break up break you
Next Week: 7 ways to be happily single
What do you think? Please comment, sharing really is caring, over on Facebook. I LOVE your comments!!!