Science Says This Is Why People Stay Friends With Their Ex

When you break up with your ex there are a few different categories that you can fall into. Namely, the Carrie Bradshaw; “I  had often fantasised about running into my ex and his wife, but, in those fantasies, I was running into them with a truck.” (Forget for a moment the bizarre relationship Carrie then had with her ex.) Or the person who likes to keep tabs on their ex and stay ‘friends’ with them.

Personally I am more of the ‘get out of my life’ kind of person, but each to their own. You will not be surprised that I don’t understand why people stay friends with their ex. Thankfully this is something science has looked into.

A study published in the journal Personal Relathionships researched those who communicate with their former partners and analysed reasons why people communicate with former partners and how it affected current relationships.

Around 40 percent of the 260 participants were still in touch with their exes.

The study concluded that communication with former partner can have a “deleterious influence” on current relationships, in other words harmful or damaging affects. Those that were communicating to an ex had different emotions towards both their ex and current partner than those who had cut them out of their lives. This was most common in  those who had low levels of commitment to their current partner, poorer adjustment to the break up and higher levels of romantic emotions toward their former partner.

As for why, the study found varying reasons as to why people kept in contact. There is of course a difference of seeing your ex around town or at a friends party and getting in touch to have a chat.

The study concluded that those who were in touch just to say hello and were wondering how they were had lower satisfaction in their current relationship. Likewise, those who were communicating for ‘backup motives’ were consistently associated with damaging current relationships.