Creating Boundaries—Why Your Ex Should Remain Your Ex

Updated on June 20, 2016

Assuming you just had a break up and your soul feels like a raw gaping wound, it can be remarkably easy to reach for the nearest fix that you know of to heal your broken heart…your ex!

So familiar, so warm, so comforting and probably just as willing and in withdrawal and denial as you are.

But then at times, the opposite is true, sometimes it isn’t as painful and filled with nuances of soap opera drama as you might expect. Maybe you just got up one day and decided that the person that your once heart burned feverishly for was now nothing more than a weak candle flame flickering in the breeze. You part ways and decide very sensibly and logically to be ‘friends’. Sagely, the two of you meet for ‘friendly’ drinks, ‘friendly’ lunches and before you know it the lines between ‘friends’ and ‘friends with benefits’ become blurred and its downhill on the slippery slope to ‘are we dating again?'

However unique your situation might be, that first month after you break up with someone and begin redefining your life minus your ‘plus one’, can be a very difficult and challenging phase. No matter how picture perfect you may have imagined things to be, making the change over in psychology from couple to single can be daunting. But create boundaries; you must, if you are to thrive as a rational human being.

Here are a few solid tips on how to survive the break up, create boundaries with your ex and surge forward to live your best life.

Creating boundaries

1. Navigating the first post break up meeting...

Let’s face it that first meeting post break up can be at best, mildly awkward, at worst extremely painful.

Instead of diving for the bushes, using separate exits or pretending to be so studiously busy in the depths of your phone or studying your shoes, try being polite.

Remember, short of any form of meltdown, sticking to polite social norms and manners is probably the best that you can do given the circumstances.

Tough love tip:

Suck it up, be strong and go out there with your head held high. Don’t feel small or inferior, watch your body language and the way in which you come across, don’t make apologies for being alive, being out there and socializing. Live your life and be fabulous!

2. Pull the plug

When you guys were in love, everything was no doubt peachy. Rabbits probably sang and danced, you had hearts in your eyes and everything was coming up roses. Now that the relationship guillotine has dropped there really is only one choice if you would like to well and truly move on - pull that plug baby!

You guys following each other on Twitter? It is time to click unfollow.

Sweet, sweet friends on Facebook? It is time to block or unfriend.

Any mutual social media pages that you guys had administered together: it’s time to head for ‘splitsville’.

No matter how painful you think it could be, you need to be as astute as possible and pull up the drawbridge. It is no longer you, me and happy families; you have to face reality that there isn’t a combined identity anymore. Carve out that space in your bid to move on.

Tough love tip:

What you don’t know and can’t see will not hurt you. If you are always looking at your ex’s social media pages, you are continually exposed to his/her life, the associated memories, the hurt and the pain.With the simple process of elimination when you remove the person’s presence from your immediate vicinity, you take back your power by not investing emotion and reaction to them and their lives.

3. No creeping

Yes, yes, we know how difficult it is to get rid of this seething mass of feelings, and how you imagined each other as your first, your last, your everything… but you really aren’t going to make any progress with your own life if you keep driving past his or her street casually waiting for your erstwhile armor to make an appearance. Likewise if you haven’t quite managed to pull the plug on your social media connections (why on earth have you not done so yet?), perhaps it is time that you did.

There is a fine line between acceptably missing someone and becoming their stalker, springing up from behind hedges and just happening to accidentally-on-purpose bump into them at their favorite coffee shop (with your new beau in tow, perhaps?).

Tough love tip:

Simply put…you NEED to get a life. Preferably yours and not your exes. Presumably you are a fabulous person when you are not preoccupied with your ex, filled with your own interests, pursuits and set of values. Keep busy, keep going and most of all keep fabulous! You know you’re worth it!

4. Keep grounded - find your feet

What grounds you? What are the things that give you joy and purpose?

Every tree has its roots that dig deep and offer sustenance, shoots that lap up the water and hydration and branches and leaves that reach out to the skies.

Meditation, prayer, hobbies, pastimes, affirmations and offering up gratitude, these are sure and easy ways for you to feed your soul. When the storms come there is only one way to stay rooted and grounded and that is for you to invest in yourself long before the storm even arrives. Find one that works for you.

Tough love tip:

You alone, need to find the sources that give you strength in your hour of need. Keep questioning yourself as the days go by: Continually interrogate.

  • What is it and who is it that drains me?
  • Am I feeling okay about this situation?
  • What are my red flags and no go zones?

When you ask these types of questions of yourself on an ongoing basis, you are in the best position to ensure that you stay grounded when the tough times hit.

5. Accelerate rather than reverse

Presuming you came to a point where you decided that you wanted to let someone go. Examine why it is that you decided on the break up.

Especially if you were the one that initiated your break up, you need to know that this was most probably a breakthrough in your own understanding about yourself.

For whatever reason, you probably said, hey this is no longer okay, he/she no longer fits my life, and I need to move on.

Understand that some level of temptation and wanting to reach out to your ex is normal, but if you do reach out and go back to your ex, consider that you may be regressing and retarding your own personal growth.

Often breaking up with someone coincides with having just had a greater understanding about yourself and who you are as a person - which means GROWTH! Any move backward, negates that and in fact steps on the toes of your own growth and progress. Take a look at the sun on the horizon, see the bright future ahead of you and just keep on moving, Joe.

Tough love tip:

Bottom line, change IS progress! You alone hold the power to push forward. Have the courage to take steps, kick your life into high gear and put a bit of positive distance between you and your ex. More importantly, you need to understand that a break up offers a crucial period within which to introspect and get to know more about yourself. What is it that you like/dislike, what do you stand for in terms of your beliefs and values and more importantly what is it that you expect and need from a future relationship?

6. Pull yourself towards yourself

Somewhere along the line, when it comes to break ups, there is a sudden moment of understanding. You don’t know when and how it happens but suddenly there is a little bit of daylight that opens up.

Now that you have put a bit of time, perspective and distance between you and your ex you find that moving forward one day at a time is not so difficult after all.

The period following a break up, should be a time filled with introspection and recovery, but most importantly, it should be a time filled with fun, new discovery and understanding more about you.

Let’s face it, while relationships have their joys and benefits, there sometimes isn’t much time left for you to be YOU! Always wanted to take up that Zumba class at the gym but just never found the time? What’s stopping you now? Felt guilty about not making much time for friends and family? Plan those picnics, getaways and road trips. Always wanted to spend the entire afternoon on the porch reading a book with nothing to do and nobody to be accountable to? This IS your golden moment!

Tough love tip:

Your one, true and lasting relationship will always be with YOU! Remember this; carry this one truth with you especially if you feel as if you need to rush back to your ex which, in most circumstances, spells well and true detriment to your own sense of wellbeing.

7. Humor - lighten up a little

Sometimes, all you need is a little light humor in order to get over your ex boyfriend or girlfriend and help you create those ‘keep me safe’ boundaries that prevent you from taking any steps that you might regret.

You know you've made progress when this happens
You know you've made progress when this happens
Find the time to work on you!
Find the time to work on you!
Introspect; know the difference between the two!
Introspect; know the difference between the two!
Pursue your interests, stay grounded, stay focused.
Pursue your interests, stay grounded, stay focused.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Having done the on-off-on-off then f.w.b thing with the last relationship, I finally cut ties. Everything. At. Long. Last. After a few years of this behaviour. Shame on me and I disrespected and devalued me.

      I was somehow holding onto the flimsy hope that it would all be ok. But it never was going to. And I had this idea that if I "let go of this one" - that would be "it". No more love. After many years of dating - decades - I felt like a complete failure. But why settle with someone who made me feel miserable a lot, for great sex and companionship?

      I did a lot of family of origin work, and personal grief work and looked long and hard at myself and why I had such low self esteem.

      I realised I had to be my own friend. I deleted the phone number, the back up hand-written number in my address book. Blocked the email, deleted the email. Happily had no Instagram, FB and don't belong to any of those stupid sites. I no longer look at his Pintrest and just stay away from ....... everything. Including googlemapping his street.

      I completed black listed him from everything.

      I recently moved and threw out all reminders of our relationship, no matter how nice or valuable the gifts, I sold them, destroyed them or gave them away. I deleted all photos with him in it, including overseas trips. I did the complete and ultimate purge. No cheating.

      I'm doing a lot better these days. About 6 months ago I had the horrid experience of running into him at a shopping mall. There was no escape route. He saw me, passed and said "hi". For a microsecond I thought to stop and talk. My polite people pleasing monster reared it's head.

      Then I thought "Why? You hurt me over and over and over and over and over again. You are a controlling, manipulative and verbally nasty and abusive empty vessel." In that microsecond I said "Hi" in a short, somewhat irritated tone. And I felt my legs still moving , carrying me past him and down the escalator and away. I felt shitty the rest of the day.

      But I walked away. And you can too.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      After 7_month breakup as of yesterday i was having still alot of hurt and wanting to gp back reading this helped me understand why i left in the first place long way to go but ill get to my better me thanks a bunch!!!!!lousiana lady

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My names are ana, am from New York. why i am writing this testimony is because i made a promised that who so ever help me out of my shit and predicament deserves to be known by the world. Am 26 years of age my girlfriend left me some months ago that am a piece of old cargo that there is nothing on earth that can bring our paths together as long as he breaths. I felt really bad because i loved him so dearly' one day i came across some testimonies of this priest called, So i decided to give him a chance, i lost hope because i heard there are lots of scammers down there. but when he told me things so personal which i knew was so secret that was only known to me then i gave him a chance out of my doubting spirit but to my greatest surprise my girlfriend called me that same day,that she is so sorry for all the pains she has made me pass through. presently our love is more than that of romeo and Juliet lol. he takes good care of me now 100% than before.And he's also specialized in solving all kinds of problems.So just give him a trial,and you will understand what i am talking about.Thank you so much priest, here is the email address that turn my pains, sadness and sorrow into joy:

      from ana, New york..

    • profile image

      Ms.Zhen qian 

      6 years ago

      I like my exes Tom Zho. He is a man like me. We like our reunion at his walnut home.

    • profile image

      Tom Zhou 

      6 years ago

      Mrs.Tang Zhen qian want me back. We can hug one another as we talking great many word's. hallelujah!

    • Jetstream profile imageAUTHOR

      The Jetstream 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks so much for the great feedback!

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Loved this statement from your Hub: "Now that you have put a bit of time, perspective and distance between you and your ex you find that moving forward one day at a time is not so difficult after all."

      This actually sums it up so nicely. Great insight, suggestions, and humorous images to reinforce. Thanks for all your effort. Marilyn


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