Whether or not the breakup was your call, cutting a person out of your life—someone with whom you’ve shared secrets, dreams for the future, a bed, or even a home—is really, really tough. And there’s no formula for breaking up with someone (though we did write about the best way to do it without being a jerk).
But even after the hard part is over, it’s never as cut-and-dry as simply saying good-bye. In today’s smartphone-centric, Facebook-addicted, Instagram-obsessed world, staying in touch with an ex is a lot easier—and messier.
Is the answer to unfriend, unfollow, and block? Can you check in via text? Do you wish them a happy birthday when Facebook aggressively prods you to?
As with all things in love, each situation is individual, says Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., relationship expert and author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship. And, of course, there are some practical reasons to stay in touch with an ex, says Juliana Breines, Ph.D., a social psychology researcher at Brandeis University. For example, if you have children or a business together.
Or maybe you want to remain friends with an ex because that’s an easier option than cutting ties abruptly, or because you still feel emotionally attached to them. Those reasons are exactly why staying in contact with an ex isn’t a good idea, Breines says.
Here are three things to consider before opening up the lines of communication.