Should you stay friends with old lovers? A new study reveals that most people, even if married, keep in touch ‘just in case’
Are you married but still swap the odd flirty text with your ex or leave in-jokes on their Facebook page? Do you sometimes even wonder what it would be like to get together with them again? You’re not alone. A recent study has highlighted what many people may quietly admit to — that even though they consider themselves in an exclusive, committed relationship, they are also in touch with an ex, just in case.
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma found that 62 per cent of adults who were in committed relationships admitted to keeping someone on the “back burner” ie someone who they might strike up a relationship with again — and for more than 50 per cent of these that was a former partner.
Who can’t help wondering how much Jennifer Lopez kept in touch with Ben Affleck for all those years after their break-up in 2004, before they announced their reunion in a very public superyacht smooch recently. Just as any time Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are photographed together the internet goes into a frenzy of speculation. It seems there is something about the rekindling of old flames that keeps our imaginations fired, even if we are committed to someone else.
Of those in the Oklahoma study, 85 per cent were married and 93 per cent said that their relationship with their partner was exclusive. But let’s not forget the darker side of toying with this romantic fantasy. The researchers also found that communication with exes had a negative impact on relationships, with people in touch with exes having bad feelings about themselves despite doing so.
So what are the rules of staying in touch with past partners? Is this kind of friendship ever wholly innocent?
As told to Anna Maxted for The Times Saturday, 14 August 2021