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September 13, 2021

Hey Christina, Why do I feel the need to be friends with a former partner who lied, cheated and disrespected me? Is there validity in “keeping your enemies close”?

– Loyal to a Fault

Dear Loyal to a Fault,

There’s a belief out there that you are an “evolved person” if you can remain friends with your ex. I have sat with many people who have struggled with this topic of closure and boundaries. That’s essentially what this is… a topic of boundaries.

As Jay Sheddy said in one of his brilliant podcasts, “Under no circumstances should a relationship that was abusive, manipulative or toxic transition into a friendship.” There is a high probability that this person will not alter who they are and suddenly become a loving, supportive friend. By thinking that your ex would be different in a friendship than in a relationship, you may be setting yourself up for delayed or elongated hurt. So, unless there are children involved, I believe that there is no need to remain friends with an ex-partner, especially a toxic one. In saying this, there is always an exception to the rule… for example, if you were friends prior to intimacy. In this case, considering we are talking about someone who lied and betrayed our trust, I think there’s room for this unhealthy connection to be reevaluated.

Staying friends with an ex can also get in the way and can actually prevent us from moving forward with new relationships. This can literally stop us from forming connections with new, healthy people. At the end of the day, it comes down to loving you. There is healing in saying goodbye and there are learnings that need to be seen and explored so that we don’t repeat this experience. There is room to dig in and reflect on what we accepted, forgive ourselves for accepting it, and catalogue these points so that we can call on this information when we start dating someone new. Our lovers are our teachers…. especially the unhealthy ones.

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