4 Signs It's Time to Cut Ties With Your Ex for Good

woman looking at picture of ex

Breakups are hard. Staying friends with your ex? Even harder. Not only do you have to renegotiate your relationship, but you also may still be dealing with the issues that led you to split up in the first place. According to a new Associated Press–WE TV poll, just 21 percent of married folk are able to stay friends with their ex.

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There are all kinds of good reasons to do so, of course. If you loved this person enough to share years of your life, buy a house, or have kids together, he must still have some redeeming qualities, right?

Hopefully. But sometimes, no matter how much history you've shared, staying friends with your ex ISN'T a great idea, says Dr. Yvonne Thomas, PhD, a Los Angeles-based psychologist whose specialties include relationships.

Here, the four red flags indicating you need to get your ex out of your life for good.

Addiction: Whether your ex can't say no to gambling, drugs, smoking, or even food, addiction is a "neon sign" that your relationship isn't a healthy one. The reason? Chances are, your ex keeps coming to you with his issues. (Or worse, your kids witness them.)

"You don't want to be party to that," says Thomas. "If so, you almost become an accomplice to their addiction."

Emotional Abuse. If your ex criticizes you, subtly puts you down, can only see the negative, or puts question marks in your head about everything you do, he's being emotionally abusive. "That's not a healthy dynamic to have in your life," Thomas says. "He might not be doing any of this purposely, but his actions and comments are still hurting you."

Physical Abuse: Obviously. But it still bears repeating. "You should not have anyone in your life who physically abuses you," Thomas says. Once they do, "you're always waiting to see if it will happen again," she says, "and it can lead to indelible, deep wounds for you and your children."

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A Pattern of Taking Advantage. Borrowing money. Needing you to constantly take the kids even on "his" days. Asking to use your car or call in a favor for something he'd like ... These are all signs that your ex is using you, and "that's not a true, equitable relationship," Thomas points out. "If a relationship is healthy and genuine, there's give-and-take."

Bottom line about all these categories, says Thomas, is that "if you see your ex hurting himself or you, whether he means to or not, then your relationship has nowhere to go."

So how do you actually make a break?

Give your ex a warning -- i.e., a heads-up that you won't be tolerating his behavior any longer, and an opportunity to get help and turn things around.

To start, you might ask, "Do you know what you're doing? Do you think you have a problem?" You might even point out that you've noticed a pattern and give some examples.

If your ex apologizes, "Sorry isn't good enough," says Thomas. "He has to get to the point where he admits he did something wrong." And when/if he does, that's when you ask, "So how can we make sure this won't happen again?"

Hint: The answer is therapy.

Practice some tough love and let your ex know not to contact you until he's finally gotten help. And if he insists, "I don't NEED help. I'm fine"? "You can say, 'Well, I'm not fine,'" Thomas says. After all, "you've got to move on with your life."

Just remember: Dealing with a physically abusive ex can be tricky -- and sometimes dangerous. If you need help safely navigating your specific situation, make a free call 24/7 to The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

 

Image via Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

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