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Branson weighs in: When is it ok to be friends with your ex?

Guest editor Sir Richard Branson weighs in on the advice of Metro's dating columnist, Dr. Jane Greer.

Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz have been famously complimentary toward each other in the press despite having dated and broken up. Rumors have even circulated that the two have spent some time together recently. While Timberlake remains devoted to his fiancee Jessica Biel, the two seem to have remained friends. Often when people end a relationship they say, “Let’s be friends.” It makes sense. You’ve been the most important people in each other’s lives for a long time, maybe even years. It’s hard to make that clean break — it can feel like a gaping hole in your life. So you decide to continue to be a part of each other’s life. But staying connected it isn’t always easy or the best choice. So when, if ever, is it OK to be friends with your ex?

Couples rarely break up on equal footing. Instead, one person might be eager to get away while the other wishes to continue to be together. Or one person is ready to move on, they may have already met someone else, but the other isn’t sure. That’s where it gets tricky. If you are on the side of hoping for more with that person, you run the risk of putting yourself in a position where you remain attached, and don’t allow yourself the possibility of meeting someone new who might be better able to fulfill your needs. If staying connected was a problem while you were dating, imagine how hard it will be to get their attention now. You may just be setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment which, ultimately, might make you feel more empty and sad. If you remain focused on your ex, it could hold you back from finding your future.

The rule of thumb, generally, is that unless you are both truly over each other, and neither one of you holds any hope to be with the other romantically, it probably isn’t such a good idea to try to be friends for the time being. If you golfed or played tennis as a couple, and you were hoping to continue with that activity together, or you are simply using that as an excuse to stay in touch, my suggestion would be that it is probably a new time to find a new partner. And calling after years of not talking? Maybe there are still good feelings remaining, and enough time has gone by that they can really be friends.

Sir Richard Branson comments on staying friendly after the love has gone:

- “I personally think that if you’ve had a relationship with somebody, you should be best friends for life."

- "Some of my best friends going back for years were people I’ve had a relationship with and so we’re good friends. We’ve actually, over a drink or two at nighttime, we’ll think, ‘There must be a better way than marriage!'”

- "We’ve decided on the ‘friends for life’ contract, which … is a bit like wealthy people do, with pre-nups. You have friends for life: if you decide after 10 years you need to split up, you have children, you just, you know, work it all out in advance so you don’t have to have nasty lawyers coming in and screwing up the relationships and you can remain friends for life.”

 
 
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