Breaking up used to mean you said goodbye, stashed some memorabilia in a shoe box, then moved on. Technology has foiled the easy break by completely changing the game. With Facebook, email, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram (the list goes on), your ex is easily accessible, easy to spy on, and easy to get in touch with. It’s as dangerous as it sounds. After a breakup you may find yourself scanning your ex’s Facebook wall for signs of a new relationship or delving into old photos of the two of you together. Simply put, technology has made the art of breaking up a little more complicated.
Keeping tabs on your ex may seem harmless enough until a new relationship enters the scene. You may go from dinner with your current partner to shooting your ex a quick Facebook message to say hi. It may seem like a meaningless gesture, but is it? Before you get too deep into your relationship with your ex, keep in mind that what may seem like a harmless relationship has the power to ruin your current relationship or at the very least, damage it. Keep these things in mind if you just can’t seem to let your ex fade out of your life.
1. You’re stringing along your ex
Even if you’re happy in your current relationship, maintaining a relationship with your ex may lead them to believe that they have a chance. They may think that you want to give it another shot or are secretly unhappy or unfulfilled in your current relationship. If that’s true, then you need to stop and re-evaluate your current relationship. If it’s not, you need to be clear with your ex about where you stand. Be blunt and honest. Let them know that you are not only dating someone else, but that you are serious about trying to make the relationship work. While there are circumstances where your ex either has to be in your life (due to kids or a shared workplace) or you have developed a completely platonic friendship, you should always set clear boundaries to let your ex know where your priorities lie.
2. You’re hurting your partner
Does your partner know how often you and your ex talk? Are they aware of how present your ex is in your daily life? If they are, and they’re OK with it, you’re off the hook. If they don’t, take a moment to think of how they would feel if they knew the extent upon which you still communicate with and rely on a romantic relationship from your past. By choosing to maintain a relationship with your ex and not being upfront with your partner, you are hurting the person you love and in a way, prioritizing your relationship with your ex.
Be honest with yourself on your need to have your ex in your life. Does it provide a mere ego boost? Are you keeping them on the back burner should your current relationship fail? Or is there more to it? Do you genuinely care about them as a friend or are you in a situation where they’re part of your daily life? If it’s the latter, then you’ll need to have an open conversation with your partner to determine a plan on how to move forward.
3. You’re limiting your relationship
By keeping your ex in your life, you may be limiting the potential of your current relationship. One study cited by YourTango found that staying close with an old flame can seriously affect the foundation of an existing romantic relationship. Consider all the time and energy you put into maintaining a relationship with your ex when that time and energy should go into building your current relationship. Would your current relationship be more open, honest, and deeper? The very act of juggling two people, the past, and the present has the ability to tarnish or cheapen the relationship you’re currently in.
4. You’re hurting yourself
You may have considered how your relationship with your ex could hurt your partner and your relationship, but keeping an ex on the back burner can also hurt your own emotional growth. By not letting go of the past, you’re keeping yourself from moving forward to discover the love and intimacy you deserve. By keeping a connection to the past in your life, you could be causing yourself unnecessary hurt and preventing yourself from progressing emotionally.
Keep in mind that your relationship with your ex ended for a reason. They weren’t able to give you what you needed, and so you made the decision to move on. You deserve better, so don’t let your own insecurities and fears keep you tied to an unhealthy past.