The Ex-Factor: Why more couples stay friends

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, in happier days (Photos: Flickr)

Some relationship break-ups are like car crashes — particularly when they unfold in the public eye. Think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, even Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.

More and more, though, couples are splitting on good terms, which may not be so great for tabloid headlines, but does enable people to remain friends – and that trend is confirmed by an online poll conducted by Hatch.

The poll found that 66.7 per cent of respondents are friends with an ex-partner. However, only 46.2 per cent said that remaining friends had been “a good thing”; 30.8 per cent said it hadn’t been.

Actor Kate Beckinsale and comedian Pete Davidson (Photo: Flickr)

High-profile celebrity couple Pete Davidson and Kate Beckinsale recently broke up after dating for almost four months.

According to PEOPLE.com, the couple – who had been trying to have a long-distance relationship – “are still friends… It just didn’t work out.”

The Hatch poll found that 20 per cent of respondents had had just one partner in their lives; 66.7 per cent had had more than two, and 13.3 per cent had had more than four.

Reyanna Abanto and her ex-boyfriend, Robert Mathias, both 19, recently broke up after five years, but decided to remain friends. Abanto ended it, feeling she needed to do so to safeguard her mental health. She was suffering from anxiety and stress at the time.

“We still talk,” she says. “He’s one of my best friends – still going to parties [together] and the occasional clubs.

“I’m just thankful it [the break-up] wasn’t ugly. Some people, in his place, would want nothing to do with me any more. Not to mention, we share the same friends, so it would have been so awkward to be around each other. I literally would see him everywhere.

“It would be unfair to our other friends – we’d end up breaking them apart too.”

Abanto and Mathias when they were together (Photo: supplied)

Abanto adds: “We had so much history together. He knows my family, even distant relatives. He was invited for parties, birthdays, Christmas – it would have been wrong to throw all of that away. He was so understanding when I wanted – needed – to end the relationship.

“He asked me if he could change my mind, if there was any way we could work it out together. After I said ‘no’, he nodded, and just said: ‘Friends, then?’. Honestly, if he didn’t suggest it, I would have … [myself]. He’s too involved in my life for me to completely spurn him.”

Abanto and Mathias, still good friends (Photos: supplied)

Matt Garrett, from Relationships Australia, says there are different reasons why people stay friends with their exes.

“Perhaps the couple were friends before becoming romantically involved? Or simply they’re better off as friends than ‘lovers’. It can often occur when people are not necessarily looking for a serious relationship and just playing the field.”

(Photo: Eva Hill)

Garrett adds: “The benefits of staying in contact with someone from the past depends on the quality of the relationship the couple had, … [whether] there are other links like shared memories and shared friends.” – story and graphics by @helen_dark1