Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem,
Some Muslim sisters, for various reasons, have an ex-boyfriend, ex-fiancé or ex-husband; and may wonder what their relationship with this person ought to be like. In some cases where such relationships have not been properly managed, they have led to devastating consequences.
First, for single sisters, try as much as possible to avoid finding yourself in the situation where you have an EX in the first place. This means avoiding boyfriend-girlfriend relationships completely. If you are not ready for marriage, you have no business being in a relationship! And when you are ready for marriage and a suitor comes along, try to find out as much as you can and pray fervently before saying ‘yes’! And once you have accepted the proposal, work towards getting married as soon as possible.
However, as it is often said, ‘ _a broken relationship is always better than a broken marriage’._ So, there may be cogent reasons to break an engagement (from either side), and you now have an ex-fiancé; or you repent from your boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, and you now have an ex-boyfriend. What should be your relationship with these men?
As far as Islam is concerned, your ex-boyfriend or ex-fiancé is no different from any other _non-mahram_ (strange/marriageable) man. As such, all the rules of interaction guiding relationships between opposite sexes in Islam applies to you both. This includes avoiding unnecessary, lewd, filthy, seductive or suggestive talks or chats, seclusion, amongst others.
In addition however, while unnecessary interaction with any person of the opposite sex who is not your mahram may lead to _fitna_ (problems), such interaction with your ex-boyfriend or ex-fiancé has higher chances of leading to even bigger fitna. Because of the emotional relationship you already had, and perhaps you had shared intimate and personal secrets, called each other endearing names, had lovely time out together, and other emotional/intimate/romantic things; depending on the circumstances surrounding your break-up, you may be more prone to falling into fitna and committing acts of indecency with this person than you are likely to with other men. In some unfortunate cases, the lady has lost her virginity to this particular EX. Usually, a woman has a special place in her heart for the man who ‘ _made her a woman’_ ; and except he has hurt her in a really unforgivable manner, she’s most likely going to still have a soft spot for him with sustained relationship.
As such, it is recommended that you completely cut off all forms of communication with such ex-boyfriend or ex-fiancé. You are no longer getting married, so what exactly do you want to be talking about? And how would your constant communication not continue to stir feelings in you that you might not be able to fulfill except in an _haram_ (forbidden) manner? So, of what essence is the exchange of text messages, whatsapp or messenger chats, calls and the likes? All these are _cracks in the wall through which lizards can easily enter_ . In Islamic jurisprudence, this principle is called _Sadd adh-Dhari’ah_ (blocking the means), as keeping up such communication will continue to stir up feelings in you that may make you fall into zina, or start despising and ending up divorcing your husband without a genuine reason, which are all haram.
Also, the fact that you are now married does not make you immune to the negative effects of sustained relationship with an ex-boyfriend or ex-fiancé. Many marriages have actually been destroyed as a result of these kind of relationships as some women have had emotional affairs, committed adultery, or divorced their husbands just to go back to their EX.
It is noteworthy that while Islam allows a woman to seek divorce through _khul_ , directly from the husband or through a court; this is for genuine reasons such a spousal abuse, financial irresponsibility, neglect, sexual starvation and the likes. Having renewed feelings for your ex-boyfriend/ex-fiancé because you are now in touch and he says he’s now a changed person is not amongst the genuine reasons for which a woman can initiate divorce. And the Prophet (pbuh) has said that ‘ _any woman who asks for divorce from her husband without a genuine reason, then the fragrance of Paradise is forbidden for her’ (At-Tirmidhi, 1187)._
My dear sisters, no ex-boyfriend/ex-fiancé is worth risking your Jannah for. Once you are married, every other man no longer matters. You EX is not the right person to be sharing your marital challenges with. Do not allow emotions becloud your sense of reasoning and thereby make you jeopardise your marriage or your _akhira_ (hereafter). And even if you are still single and there are chances of giving your EX a second chance, please endeavour to keep it halal throughout.
Now for the sister who has an ex-husband as a result of being divorced, the situation may be similar to what is explained above but may be a bit more complicated. Once your _iddah_ (period of waiting after divorce/widowhood) is over, the man becomes a complete stranger to you, just like any other man out there. Thus, you must observe hijab/niqab from him, no seclusion, no intimate talks and other rules of interaction in Islam must be observed. Even if it is a revocable divorce, in which case you can both get married again, as long as the iddah has been completed and you have separated, you have become strangers. Thus, a fresh _aqd an-Nikkah_ must be conducted for you to get back together again.
Just like the sisters with an ex-boyfriend/ex-fiance, a sister with an ex-husband must also be very careful regarding her relationship with such man. This is someone you have been intimate with, so definitely, except where the relationship had crumbled completely prior the divorce, there are chances of still having some romantic feelings for the man. Hence, it is necessary to detach yourself completely from such a man, where possible.
In the event that you already had a child/children before the divorce, then it becomes almost impossible to be completely detached from each other. Depending on who the children are staying with, there would be need for calls to check on the children, and other correspondences to send money and gifts to them, arrange holidays, make joint decisions about the children’s welfare, and other things that would make you to have to continually relate. In such circumstances, you have to be constantly on your toes to ensure that you do not go beyond bounds. If you have re-married, it may be a good idea to carry your new spouse along with regards to all dealings with the former spouse, as this helps to keep you both in check.
If you have not re-married, you may consider having a chaperone just in case. And where there is possibility of re-marriage with your ex-husband, let such marriage take place as soon as possible. Should you engage in any act of intimacy without a fresh aqd an-Nikkah, it is still zina, regardless of the fact that you have been previously married. So, please, always keep it halal.
In conclusion, sustained relationships with an ex-boyfriend, ex-fiancé or ex-husband can ruin your current relationship/marriage, and/or put your hereafter at risk if not properly managed. Hence, always put it at the back of your mind that such EX is not just as much a stranger as any other brother, but may pose more risk as a result of the relationship you have shared in the past. Hence, ensure to keep it halal in every necessary interaction with such person!