Showing your support for a friend who's just ended a relationship can be a really important part of helping them through a difficult period. Unfortunately, once a friend has decided to end their relationship with a partner, it can be tricky to figure out if you're also required to sever any remaining friendship with their ex, too. But, can you still be friends with a friend's ex without damaging your bond? As you might've suspected, navigating this situation can be very tricky.
I spoke to NYC-based relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter to find out whether or not it's OK to keep hanging out with a friend's ex. According to Winter, this isn't a one-size-fits-all issue, so it's important to consider the specific details of every individual situation. "It depends on the circumstances within the couple's relationship, and your relationship to those individuals," Winter tells Elite Daily. "It's okay to remain friends with your friend's ex if it doesn't bother your friend."
If you're not sure how your friend feels about you having social contact with their ex, it's important to communicate honestly and openly about it to avoid hurt feelings. "Firstly, talk to your friend," recommends Winter. "Staying friendly with their ex could be a real violation of your 'friendship rules.' Will your friend feel like you're picking sides, or diminishing your existing friendship by associating with their ex? Make sure you know how they feel about this before you take any action."
Figuring out how to deal when you're stuck in the middle of a breakup between two people can get even more complicated if you were friends with both of them before they even began dating. If this is the case, Winter says that you should be able to maintain separate friendships with both parties involved. "You shouldn't be asked to give up one of your friends simply because their relationship didn't work out," says Winter.
The truth of the matter is that if you consider both people to be close friends, then choosing a side is going to end up rubbing someone the wrong way. If, however, you're honest about wanting to stay friends with both your friend and their ex (even though they might not be thrilled), hopefully they'll be able to understand your wish to stay impartial. On the other hand, if one of the friendships far outweighs the other in terms of importance and significance to you, then Winter recommends letting that be the guiding factor in deciding which course of action to take. "Here's where you need to prioritize who is more important: Your friend, or their ex," says Winter. "That should be the driving factor in your decision-making process and will lead you to the correct answer."
As someone who's been caught in the middle of breakups in a very tight-knit friend group, I can tell you that sometimes it can feel almost impossible to keep everyone happy. But, from my experience, one of the keys to preserving both relationships is being as honest and transparent as possible. You shouldn't have to be dishonest about who you're hanging out with as long as you're willing to make time for both people separately. So instead of keeping your concerns and worries to yourself, consider following Winter's advice and start an honest dialogue. It's the first step to keeping the peace.