The #1 Reason Why You’re Still Friends With Your Ex

Mates after dates? Here’s why…

chris and gwyneth

by Grazia Contributor |
Published on

Can you ever be friends with your ex? A tricky question for many. Oh there’s the inevitabily awkward lunch/drink/coffee after you’ve broken up. And how long is comfortable enough to ask whether your former partner has found another partner? How will you feel knowing that person you shared so much time with is IN LOVE with someone else?

Well, as confusing as the transition may seem, there are some celebrity couples who have the whole romantic partner to platonic relationship nailed. There’s Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s oh-so respectful ‘conscious uncoupling’. Kate Beckinsale spends holidays with former partner Michael Sheen and his girlfriend Sarah Silverman. Heck! Hugh Grant is godfather to Liz Hurley’s 14-year-old son (and we all know why that relationship ended.)

And now a new study has revealed why people are keen to stay friends with their former bae, according to new research by Justin Mogilski and Lisa Welling at Oakland University published in Personalty and Individual Difference. 348 volunteers were asked to list as many reasons as possible for why two former partners might want to stay mates. This resulted in 153 reasons. Another group was then asked to rate each reason on a scale of 1-5, identifying seven key reasons…

  1. Reliability/sentimentality: “They were a great listener.”

  2. Pragmatism: “They had a lot of money.”

  3. Continued romantic attraction: “I still had feelings for them.”

  4. Children and shared resources: “We had children together.”

  5. Diminished romantic attraction: “I realised I was no longer in love with them.”

  6. Social relationship maintenance: “To maintain good relations with their friends.”

  7. Sexual access: “To keep having sex with them.”

Sentimentality was rated as the most important motivator by the participants. But perhaps tellingly the research found differences across gender: Men are more likely than women to stay maintain a platonic relationship with an ex because of sex and practical reasons.

And, unsurprising, friendship with an ex was described as more tense than other friendships and each person had more negative feelings towards their ex than another friend. Yep, makes sense.

The researchers offered up some pearls of wisdom on breakups in general. ‘Although a breakup nominally marks the end of a romantic relationship, the current research suggests that resource exchange between ex-partners can extend beyond relationship dissolution,’ they wrote.

So there you have it. You can (sort of) be friends with an ex. But beware: It comes at a price.

READ MORE: 14 Ways To Get Over A Breakup

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