Skip to content
Dec 7 17

Is It Healthy to Stay Friends with Your Ex?

by robin

by Anna Breslaw

Conduct a friendly survey and chances are three out of four female brunch companions will agree: Staying friends with an ex is generally  bad news. It’s easy enough to say you’ll delete that heartbreaker from your life, but fresh off a breakup, it could be difficult to go cold turkey. Often, try as they might to resist the impulse, exes inevitably can’t stop texting each other inside jokes or Gchatting from their respective offices. Assuming that it was a serious, long-term relationship, it’s easy to see why: You’ve already seen each other at your worst and you know each other better than anyone. It’s a recipe for instant friendship—right?

Not exactly. “It takes self-awareness and self-examination to figure out whether to stay in contact,” says Michelle Skeen, PsyD, a San Francisco-based therapist and author of Love Me, Don’t Leave Me.

She recommends first looking back at the romantic relationship and your ex to decide whether the basic qualities you want in a friend are  actually even there. “If the problem was, ‘He didn’t listen’ or ‘She couldn’t deal with it when I was down,’ those negative qualities might also translate in friendship,” notes Dr. Skeen, who suggests bouncing the idea off your close friends. “They might point out something you hadn’t noticed about your relationship or just aren’t ready to acknowledge—maybe they’ll say, ‘You’re still crying every day’ or ‘You’re still not eating right.’”

In fact, a 2011 study from the University of Denver of unmarried, recently-broken-up couples found that continued contact with the ex-partner, even if it was just every few weeks since the breakup, was associated with greater declines in life satisfaction.

Many people keep their exes in their lives only because the time spent in the relationship make them feel obligated to do so, but that’s not a good enough reason to justify it—at least not right away. “Romantic attachment and love are sticky substances,” says Helen E. Fisher, PhD., a biological anthropologist. “It takes time for them to dissolve.”

Fisher and her team put people who had recently experienced breakups in MRI scanners. In those who instigated the breakup, there was little neurological change. Those who were dumped, however, exhibited increased brain activity in several regions associated with reward, motivation, addiction, and obsessive-compulsive disorder—even in those who insisted they were over it.

Another red flag to watch out for: If you check their social media frequently, particularly if you became lax about it while actually in the relationship. “It can be difficult to let go of the knowledge of that person’s life, even if you’re the one who ended it,” says Dr. Skeen. “Social media makes it easier to cling to.” But cyber stalking is dangerous because it harkens back to the early days of your courtship, when your ex-partner was a still mystery—before the reasons for your breakup presented themselves. Even if you insist it’s platonic interest, Dr. Skeen recommends ditching it completely. After all, “friends” don’t creep on their “friends’” Instagram seventeen times a day, right?

So yes, your friends’ advice is as good as the pros’. Overall, experts agree that it’s healthiest not to befriend your ex until you’ve completely moved on (and ideally, until they have, too). As Dr. Fisher puts it: “If you quit drinking, you don’t keep a bottle of vodka in the house.”

One scenario in which you definitely want to cut off all contact immediately: when your ex is a narcissist. And here are the most common relationship problems, according to therapists.

Read it on Well and Good

Dec 7 17

My daughter and I have a new book coming out June 2018

by robin

Just As You Are: A Teen’s Guide to Self-Acceptance & Lasting Self-Esteem, co-authored with my daughter, Kelly Skeen

Dec 6 17

My radio show on Thursday December 7, 2017

by michelleskeen

This week on Relationships 2.0 my guest is Ira Israel author of How To Survive Your Childhood Now That You’re An Adult: A Path to Authenticity and Awakening

About the book:

As children, we learned to get approval by creating facades to help us get our emotional and psychological needs met, but we also rebelled against authority as a way of individuating. As adults, these conflicting desires leave many of us feeling anxious or depressed because our authentic selves are buried deep beneath glitzy or rebellious exteriors or some combination thereof. In this provocative book, eclectic teacher and therapist Ira Israel offers a powerful, comprehensive, step-by-step path to recognizing the ways of being that we created as children and transcending them with compassion and acceptance. By doing so, we discover our true callings and cultivate the authentic love we were born deserving.

About the author:

Psychotherapist Ira Israel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and has graduate degrees in philosophy, religious studies, and psychology. He leads workshops at the Esalen Institute and throughout the United States and has a private practice in Santa Monica, California.

Nov 30 17

My radio show on Thursday November 30, 2017

by michelleskeen

This week on Relationships 2.0 my guest is Brian Boxer Wachler, MD author of Perceptual Intelligence: The Brain’s Secret to Seeing Past Illusion, Misperception, and Self-Deception

About the book:

Is it okay to fantasize during sex? When should you follow your intuition and gut feelings? Why do we gravitate to products endorsed by celebrities? Why does time seem to go by faster as we get older? Why are some athletes perpetual winners and others losers? Why do some people see Jesus on a Cheeto? Exploring the brain’s ability to interpret and make sense of the world, Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler describes how your perception can be reality or fantasy and how to separate the two, which is the basis of improving your Perceptual Intelligence (PI). With concrete examples and case studies, Dr. Brian (as he’s known to his patients) explains why our senses do not always match reality and how we can influence the world around us through perceptions, inward and outward.

Fine-tuning your PI elevates your game so you can have what you want in life: better job, better relationships, better sex, more success, more happiness. Without this book you will have a hard time achieving these things because you will keep repeating the same patterns. By reading Perceptual Intelligence you elevate potential success in every area in your life. And there is an amazing chapter on sex! Do get it now!

About the author:

An expert on human perception, Brian Boxer Wachler, MD, has pioneered treatments in vision correction and Keratoconus, has published 84 medical articles, and has delivered 276 scientific presentations. He is the medical director of the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute in Beverly Hills and a staff physician at Los Angeles’s famed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He has been featured on all major news stations including CNN as well as on NBC Nightly NewsGood Morning AmericaToday Show, and is a regular on Dr. Phil’s The Doctors daytime TV show.

Nov 9 17

My radio show on Thursday November 9, 2017

by michelleskeen

This week on Relationships 2.0 my guest is Armin A. Zadeh, MD, PhD author of The Forgotten Art of Love: What Love Means and Why It Matters

About the book:

Cardiologist and professor Armin Zadeh revisits psychologist Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving, a book that has fascinated him for decades. The Forgotten Art of Love examines love in its complex entirety — through the lenses of biology, philosophy, history, religion, sociology, and economics — to fill in critical voids in Fromm’s classic work and to provide a contemporary understanding of love. This unique and wide-ranging book looks at love’s crucial role in every aspect of human existence, exploring what love has to do with sex, spirituality, society, and the meaning of life; different kinds of love (for our children, for our neighbors); and whether love is a matter of luck or an art that can be mastered. Dr. Zadeh provides a fascinating, empowering guide to enhancing relationships and happiness — concluding with a provocative vision for firmly anchoring love in our society.

About the author:

Armin  Zadeh, MD, PhD, MPH, is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. He has authored more than one hundred scientific articles and is an editor of scholarly books in medicine. He is a regular speaker at national and international scientific meetings and directs educational events around the world.

As a cardiologist and scientist, Dr. Zadeh experiences the relationship between the mind and the matter on a daily basis.  The loss of love can literally cause a broken heart — a form of severe heart disease. Love is the central force of life and its influence on human wellbeing and happiness is not adequately considered.

The art of medicine requires insights from various disciplines, including biology, psychology, physics, chemistry, and also philosophy. Drawing from his background and experience, Dr. Zadeh has used his skills in the analysis and synthesis of complex data to formulate new concepts and hypotheses on love and to develop a framework to understand—and master—love.

Dr. Zadeh was born and educated in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he attended medical school. After initial postgraduate training in Germany and the United Kingdom, he came to the United States in 1995 to complete his education and training in medicine, public health, and research. He is married and lives with his family in the United States.