Should I Be Friends With My Ex? Co-Parenting After the Split

By Kara Reynolds | Nov 17, 2021

Throughout any breakup, any divorce or even less serious splits, the question persists as to whether you should be friends with your ex. This can be an extremely complicated situation, and it’s definitely unique to every person and every relationship. The truth is, there is no magical answer as to whether you should or should not be friends with your ex, even when co-parenting. Your relationship with your ex will inevitably change when you split, and that means the family dynamic will too. However, there is so much potential for growth when people realize what is best for them and move into the future. Here are a few ways that you can explore the question of staying friends or getting some distance.

You Have to Get Along

No matter who you are or what you ultimately decide about your co-parenting styles and your level of familiarity with your ex, you need to get along with one another at the very least. With the exception of extreme circumstances, it’s pretty necessary to make sure that you can at least be civil with your ex if you share custody with them. If the question about whether you should stay friends with your ex is more of a philosophical musing than a practical possibility, you should know that there is no requirement that you remain close friends with your ex for the well-being of your children. As long as you can get along with one another and share your responsibilities civilly, that is the first step to a healthy co-parenting situation.

Building a Healthy Support Network

Another piece of parenting that needs to be in place is the formation of a healthy support network. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be friends with your ex, but it does help for you to be civil and friendly with one another in order to work together to support your children. Not only this, but the ability to support one another in your parenting journeys can be an extremely useful tool in navigating your new situations.

Communication is Key

If you do want to explore a friendship, or any relationship, with your ex, it’s important to communicate both about the big issues and about the little things so that you can make sure that you are on the same page about where you are going with every detail of life. You need to make sure that you keep one another in the loop about the important stuff so that Friendship can flow naturally. Of course, there will be stressful moments. Raising children is like that regardless of whether you are married or separated. Communication just makes things a little bit smoother.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

No matter what kind of relationship you are talking about, it’s always important to set healthy boundaries. This even applies within relationships where you are still together, but it especially applies in situations like this one, when you used to be together but now you share some very important responsibilities in a different setting. If you are venturing into the world of friendship, it’s extremely important to lay out your boundaries and have frank discussions about everyone’s comfort level so that you can create a sustainable situation both for you and your ex-partner.

Respecting One Another

One of the most important things you can do to aid in the development of your friendship — if you want one — is to build from a foundation of respect for one another. Think about the other friendships that you value in your life. If you can think of one commonality between all of them, it’s a mutual admiration and respect that you have for one another that keeps you continuing to share a piece of your life with them. They should be just as true when it comes to being friends with your ex. When you respect each other, not only does co-parenting become easier, but friendship does, too.

Easing Into Friendship

If you do truly desire a friendship with your ex, there are so many ways to make it happen and healthy and realistic manner. One of the best things that you can do in this situation is to recognize that there might be some bumps along the road that you need to work through. You might not end up being super close right away, but that’s perfectly okay. Try to ease into your friendship and go easy on yourselves. This is uncharted territory, after all.

Should You Be Friends With Your Ex?

The question of whether or not you should be friends with your ex is completely personal, but there are definitely plenty of ways to go about your situation no matter what you decide. By communicating, setting healthy boundaries and respecting one another throughout the process, you can figure out a dynamic that works for you and your family.

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