Home Featured Aftermath: Post Relationship Rules Of Engagement

Aftermath: Post Relationship Rules Of Engagement


Breaking up is hard to do, as the song goes. Whether you and your ex were together for a few months or years, you shared a part of your life with someone who was important to you and now that you two have split, what’s next? What should be the nature of your relationship going forward? There are a few scenarios that can typically play out depending on the cause of the breakup, so let’s explore some of those:

Remain Friends

I won’t front; I never knew how two people can remain close friends after a breakup. I’ve always thought this was a concept seen only on sitcoms or in high school relationships; in reality, it happens a lot more than I originally thought. What I’ve come to realize is that often times, relationships born out of friendship have a better chance of surviving post break up. During the relationship they may have developed an even stronger friendship, outside of any romantic connection, that they are able to fall back on once the romance is over. Either way, they are still able to confide in one another, still able to hang out, and still able to be in each other’s lives without missing a beat. The cynic in me is weary of this course of action. What if the guise of friendship is being used to hide an ulterior motive of reconciliation? What if remaining friends doesn’t allow you to completely move on in your romantic life? How will your future significant others feel about the place an ex holds in your life? These are tough questions, but questions that need to be considered if you go this route.

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Totally Erase Them From Your Life

This option usually goes down after a nasty split or super emotional breakup. It hurts too much to be around your ex because it unearths old memories you don’t want in your mind. So you stop all types of contact and act as if they never existed. People will also erase a former lover from their lives in hopes of starting brand new. They don’t want any relapses, and want to ensure that exes will stay exes. Why tempt emotion and fate, right? I would be lying to you if I said this isn’t my preferred method of ex interaction. However you have to consider certain factors when taking this option. What if you and your ex have common friends? Are you going to continue to shade one another and waste that energy? Is the nature of the breakup that serious that this method is necessary? How much is principle and how much is pride? You truly don’t know if this way is needed unless you are in the situation, but this is another extreme.

Keep Cordial and Respectful

When relationships end, this is the option I’ve seen most. You recognize that you had some type of importance and love for one another, so rather than keep ill will or stay buddy-buddy, you remain respectful. You say what’s up, make small talk, and keep it moving. It’s organic and not forced. Essentially, you revert back to being acquaintances. This seems like the happy medium, but Streetz the cynic says, is that real? Are you being cordial for cordiality’s sake? Do you not want people to call you childish and bitter and feel this will appease public sentiment? Do you really want that person back and are using the cordial approach to bide your time? Are you being true to your real feelings?

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We may act on impulse initially and decide on one of the three options above. As time goes on however, we have the foresight  to evaluate future relationships and determine which course of action is best. You shouldn’t let emotion cloud your judgment, but you should let it serve as a reminder of the past and to tread cautiously. Everyone can suggest better practices, but at the end of the day what’s right for you is all that matters.

How have you all interacted with your exes? Does cordiality exist, or do you act as if your ex never existed? Is it harder for men or women to act more ‘mature” post relationship? Is it even beneficial to have any type of interaction once you break-up?



  1. I guess me and my ex are cordial/respectful we hang out in the same circles and share some friends, so if/or when we might be at the same event or something there’s no hard feelings. Now as far as calling or checking up on each other, it’s not necessary, as long as you haven’t passed away, I don’t really need to have a month to month update on your life.
    That whole I’m still best friends with my ex thing is iffy. Unless it is a ex wife or husband or if you have kids with this person why do you need to be bff. To me there might be some unresolved issues and even if you don’t want to be in a relationship with each other nine times out of ten you are using each other as a crutch.
    Sometimes you need to just completely drop somebody; this is easy if you don’t have the same close friends/work together or hang out in the same places. I mean even if it didn’t end on a bad note you just need a new start. No hard feelings just leaving the past where it needs to be. You don’t have to be bitter to do this.

  2. My last ex and I are still friendly. We text on occasion and send “Happy Birthday” greetings but of late I’ve tried to cut out the communication because I know he still has strong feelings for me. He has said so to me directly. My other ex is a very funny/awkward story. He is currently engaged to one of my best friends. I didn’t know her when he and I were together (they had been on and off in their relationship for years and he and I dated during one of their off moments). When he and I broke up we did not stay in contact and I met his now fiancée, my best friend years later and didn’t know that they were a couple. He and I didn’t end on good terms but we keep it cordial when we see each other. They live together so I do see him when I go over to visit and we speak on the phone briefly if he answers when I call. Probably sounds like a weird situation but it’s not as awkward as it could be.

  3. Depends on the breakup. I have an ex who is to-date one of my favourite guy pals. We went from friends, to dating and back to friends (about 5yrs in all for this)..realised we had a great friendship anyway, so remained friends. The main thing here is that we went full circle, and realised that we just weren't meant to be together. Then there's the one who was the then 'love of my life' kind of relationship, and we both couldn't talk to each other for years…super emotional, we couldn't risk it, we'd probably get back together if we had and go through the same old drama. He and I are cordial now..and not in a superficial way.

    I also think that apart from how you broke up, the character (character here meaning: The inherent attributes that determines a person's moral and ethical actions and reactions) of the people in the relationship (pre and post breakup) holds a lot of water in regard to how you relate after. Breakups bring out the 'real' in people sometimes, a side you didn't know was there, or they force the facade to be dropped.

  4. I'm somewhat cordial with one, friends with the others. Understandably, there was a cooling off period prior to the friendship phase. It can be a challenge when one party still has feelings and/or occasionally toes the wrong end of the boundaries, but the other party has to be firm in their resolve to keep things at a safe distance. Yes, there will be chats about what used to be, but sometimes it's a matter of exploring what went wrong and taking note of how much you've grown since then. There may also be those occasional comfortable moments where you end up nesting against one other, but again, boundaries and recognition of when things are approaching the danger zone are key. Know thyself. Ex: The guy I've come closest to being in love with & I randomly got reacquainted after over a year of estrangement, and he dropped by to say hi one day when he was in the area. Once he realized how quickly old feelings could resurface, he made it a point to stay away from my place. He would come & pick me up for random drives, we would hang out & grab a bite, etc, but it would be under a bit of a safety blanket. I liked and appreciated that, and it allowed us to work on building a solid friendship.

    Honestly, it's up to the parties involved. What I don't like is when people judge others' interactions. If you need to x everyone out of your life, then that's cool, but don't assume that everyone has to do the same. This is the one area where I actually make an effort to not x people out of my life, because at the end of the day, there was something that led us to having that rapport. There aren't too many people I care for beyond a certain level, so unless you really piss me off, I like maintaining some kind of friendship post-break up. But if the other party persists in disrespecting your wishes, then by all means, show them the door.

  5. Yeah I must agree to what you have said that when you end a relationship we should stay friends because the connection and bonding between the two of you will stay. I have been to a relationship and end but at least we stay close and be friends even though we are not partners anymore.
    My recent post קבלה

  6. It depends on the nature of the break up. If we end due to any form of dishonesty, then the foundation for even a friendship is not there and I want nothing to do with them. But I have guys who I dated who are my friends and even good friends. They were good guys…just not for me or I for them.

  7. Initially after my last breakup i suggested the “lets be friends” option….however my judgement was clouded with emotions at that time and i decided to cut all ties…..best decision of my life

  8. Initially after my last breakup i suggested the “lets be friends” option….and it seemed ok at first however my judgement was clouded with emotions at that time. After some time to myself, i decided the best thing was to cut all ties…. i knew i couldnt be friends with someone like him…that was the best decision of my life. And of course, he would try to reach out but i kept it moving. No need to rekindle something that wasnt working from jump street.

  9. I’m friends with all of my exes. Some I talk to more than others. I will always be there for them just like I’ll always be there for my female friends. I don’t do enemies. Although some of my breakups have been due to the dude cheating on me. We break up, move on & remain friends. Just because they cheated on me doesn’t make them a bad person, but it does make them a bad boyfriend. So we remain friends. Alls well that ends well 🙂

    1. Ummm, that absolutely makes them a bad person. They didn't respect you enough while in a relationship with you to remain faithful. To me that speaks to their integrity and character, its bigger than just the physical act of stepping out on you.

  10. For me it's kindof in stages:
    Great Loves (ex-fiance, LLLLLLLTR)- Still Friends. You can't just turn love off for me, it just evolves. Plus, I wouldn't be in a LTR with someone if we didn't make GREAT partners-in-crime.
    Significant Relationships (over 2 yrs)- Acquaintences. I have an ex that I stayed with thru brain cancer (him). Once he got better he decided to use his new lease on life to er…'play the field' for a few more years. I still check in because, well…. I kinda don't want him to die? If we bump into each other, we catch up. Nothing more.
    EERRRRTHANG else- NO contact. Just not really worth it. If they find me on FB I may add, I may not. I am not a person that keeps a gang of friends, and I'm really not interested in hearing that you haven't found anyone who can cook like me since (which happens a LOT more often than I'd like, dammit).
    PS- Friendship is NULL & VOID if all you can talk about when you see me are "the good ol' days". It's just creepy.

  11. yeah i have an ex under each category. most fall under keep it cordial and respectful. one i'm still cool with (she'll always be my friend). i think that's the beauty of letting a relationship blossom out of a friendship. i do have one ex whom i've erased from my life. *shrug*. sh*t happens.
    My recent post All (Wo)Men Were Created Equal

  12. i typically am close with most of my exes…essentially because we were friends first, still wanna keep the fwb door open, and being the break up-er usually i’m never bitter. However others havent felt that way some girls couldnt handle being just friends, some still slandering my ass on twitter, some caused static with my current girl/boo, and the rest we text on birthdays but thats about it. At end of the day, i date good people so why wouldnt i keep them around in some aspect….go green n ish

  13. "You say what’s up, make small talk, and keep it moving. It’s organic and not forced. Essentially, you revert back to being acquaintances. "

    #3 reminds me of Eric Roberson's song off the Mr. Nice Guy album, "Strangers Meet" or something like that, where he says, "Strangers meet, become friends, fall in love but see love must win or they're strangers again…" Funny how that happens…………

  14. For the most part, I can put all my exes under the 1st and 3rd categories…mostly in the 3rd. I'd cut my ex-hub off completely if it weren't for these children we have to raise together…cause I just really don't care for him as a person too much. Plus our circles overlap so much that I'd look like a real bitter butthole to everyone if I just treated him super nasty all the time, smh. I have one teenage ex that is my closest male friend. Like, when he gets married, I should be wearing a tux standing on his side, lol. I'd prob be friends with another ex if he weren't married now. But, I agree…it really depends on why you broke up. The reason I broke up with the ex I'm close with is because we mutually agreed that our friendship was stronger than our relationship…and we didn't wanna screw up our friendship being young and dumb. We were together a year. I have one ex that I can't be friends with. We weren't friends before we were together so "relationship" is the only way we know how to function together. He's not a bad guy at all.

  15. Streetz I too have seen more relationships where folks "stay cordial" …..not too many where they remain friends.
    Personally many of my ex's I erase them from my life because I can for 1….no kids with them so no ties. Also the fact that they lied, cheated or bs'd me or something like that and thats why I'm no longer with them.
    Exception is 1 man I was in a relationship with in my early 20's. He wanted more solid commitment and marriage and kids and I did not. He got marriage and kids later on with someone else. Tried to remain good friends with him because i loved him and have love for him and he is a wonderful man. Wasn't able to and had to end up cutting him out my life also. He tells me almost every time we talk that he still thinks about me, misses me, I'm the one that got away, he still loves me and would get back with me and "hit it" in a heartbeat if I let him. But since he is married with children and I'm not a homewrecker I refuse to continue to "play with fire" and possibly be lead into temptation and break up a happy or unhappy home.

  16. I think the maturity level of the 2 people involved is the premis for what happens after the relationship ends.
    It's sad to me that men and women cannot be good friends after things don't work out romantically. Honestly there should be no justifiable reason why you cannot be friends with an ex except in extreme and rare cases where the person abused u, ur kids, or gave you HIV or an STD or something like that or just did you really dirty.
    Other than that I see no reason why 2 grown, mature adults should not get along fairly well following a break-up. But the reality is rarely do folks get along after a break up, especially when they need to for the sake of their kids. It really is sad. People need to grow up and act their age and stop holding on to bitterness and ill feelings and get over it and move on.

    1. Just because you don’t want to be best friends with an ex doesn’t make you bitter. You just have better things to do. I mean if you do end up being friends thats great but if not it just is what it is. Why hold on to someone for the sake of maturity. We can be mature and not be friends and just be associates. As long as we’re respectful when we do come in contact with each other it’s no big thing. I guess to each it’s own but to me if your were a bad boyfriend ( lying , playing games etc..) why do we need to be friends , you’d probably suck at that too lol.

      1. Smilez I am namely talking about folks with kids that need to get along fairly well….not be bff's or besties necessarily but act friendly and mature for the sake of their kids.
        Too many times people with kids behave very immaturely and make that entire situation much more difficult than what it has to be.
        From what I understand the reasons why are usually because one person still has feelings for that person and doesn't "hate them" as much as they pretend to, or they are jealous or envious of them or are just very childish and don't want them to be happy with anyone else since they are not happy with them.
        Keepin it 100 I've heard that women more than men are guilty of this and even when claiming to hate their ex's guts and not want him will still try to sabotage any future relationships and happiness he may have with someone else. imo that is what is immature.
        I agree with you that if it's not necessary to keep an ex in your life and not beneficial to you and if anything detrimental to your well being then ex them completely out of your life.

  17. I know some will say thats easier said than done and u don't know until your in that situation….but as everything in life is it's a choice…..once u choose to get over it and move on then life will be much better.
    If you choose to hold on to anger, jealousy, bitterness, rage, and all those bad negative emotions then you make life harder on yourself, your kids and everyone around you.
    Life is all about choices……….Not excuses.

  18. I'm happy to see this post. It explains, for people I've tried to explain this to repeatedly, just how two people can still be friends after breaking up. When relationships are built on a foundation of friendship, some people are able to separate the two and move on with the friendship once the affair is over. I realize that many people are weary of this…assuming that there is some looming hope of reconciliation, but that doesn't have to be the case.
    My recent post Skinny Wallet Wednesday: Not Rated “Mix Up”

  19. My exes are dead to me, whenever I did run into them I paid them dust, just kept it moving.
    Not necessarily because we ended on a bad note, I just figured we did what we had to do and we experienced each other, you were a crappy boyfriend , you will be a crappy friend bye!

    Nice article.

  20. Great post, I have an Ex that is probably one of the closest people to me. We talk at least once or twice a week. He is the god father of my son and he can probobly tell you every detail thats going on in my life. I def wouldn't consider our relationship normal by any means. We were only together for about a year but although he's a good dude he is not the one for me. We have been just friends for about 5 years and it works for us. We both have dated other people but out of respect we create bounderies. Our relationship is usually cause for concern for potential mates. He doesn't really explain to the woman he dates who i am, they just know i'm a "good friend". I however believe in full disclosure and I am always upfront about the nature of our relationship. I think its best a guy knows upfront so they can make the choice to accept it or not.

  21. Absolutely no contact what's so ever…
    No need to be friends…..
    My exes call me from time to time, but I have no reason to be in their lives after the love is gone….

  22. I also want to add that I have exes that I really would rather not speak to at all.. One in particular is still hanging on 7 years later. I was his first serious relationship and i think us staying friends would be dangerous for him and his current relationship. If i said the word he would drop his current GF of 5 years in a heart beat. I don't like tempting the waters and I feel that it would only be respectful to his GF for me not to allow him any contact with me. When I think of exes like him I fully understand why people are leery of exes staying in contact

  23. Its really interesting to see the various opinions on this subject. I tend to keep it cordial, some I've remained friends with but it always gets awkward as soon as either party is dating someone new. It makes me question the authenticity of the friendship. I'm cordial with one ex but I really do feel that its how Streetz described it "cordial for cordiality's sake". The relationship didn't end well and even when I've tried to cut him off he continues to resurface. I really do wish him the best but he constantly reminds me he hasn't grown and still plays the same games. I think what's keeping me from completely cutting him off is that I don't want to seem bitter. Funny enough, the person I'm seeing now I can see myself being friends with even if things go south. Even without the romantic element, we get along like old friends who grew up together.

  24. I have been re-thinking this whole policy in the last few months. I can be cordial. But why hang on to dead things? If they move on, get boo'd up, get married or I am, then what's the point? If we don't share children, at some point in time, I feel like I should just cut people off these days. It serves no purpose other than to remind me of what we had and what happened. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule. People I've known for decades & maybe we dated years ago (5 or more). I have met them. But as a general whole, I really have been thinking about not keeping in contact. Just dropping folks.

    I also just wanted to add at some point, if a man or woman is friends with most of the exes then I may think twice. I know a person can have love for a person and still like them (just not be able to be in a relationship with them). However, I need separation between church and state. Too many exes and "words with exes" can get in the way of what they are trying to build in the future.
    My recent post If You Don’t Like My Peaches Why Do You Shake My Tree?

  25. I am pretty consistent in the "Total Erase" Category. I desperately tried remaining friends during my last break off but I couldn't front for too long, 2 months, and then I erased him too. My best coping mechanism is to cut all communications off. After time has healed all wounds, why be friends? What's there to talk about? I have remained cordial to men I've dated in the past. Sometimes the more I think about that relationship, I just begin to ignore them.

    I hear that I am pretty brutal when it comes to breakups and staying friends. But that's what I have to do to survive.

  26. I have the ex I am cool with. We dated for 5 years, starting in college.
    The ex I hate and have erased from my life and have him saved under weirdo in my phone.
    And the ex I am cordial with. Mainly because I want to get some of my items back like my freaking external harddrive and I don’t want to act evil.


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