Six in 10 think cutting off contact with an ex is very helpful for getting over a breakup, and about the same percentage say it's usually not worth it to try to stay friends with an ex.
But their actions often tell a different story.
Just over half of those who have ever experienced a breakup say they've personally stayed friends with an ex. Even among those who say they don't think it's usually worth it, 38 percent have remained friends with at least one former flame.
Over 4 in 10 have broken up with someone only to get back together again, and more than a third have slept with an ex. Thirteen percent have continued living with someone they broke up with for financial reasons, and the same percentage have gone on vacation or spent a holiday with their ex.
Many also find themselves doing things that remind them of their former flame. Four in 10 have visited an ex's profile on Facebook or other social media. A quarter have sneaked a peak at a social media profile of someone their ex was dating. Young Americans are especially likely to look an ex up on social media. Two-thirds of those between age 18 and 34 have visited the social media profile of an ex, and 4 in 10 have scoped out someone an ex was dating.
Forty-five percent of Americans have listened to a song that reminds them of their ex.
Not everyone who tries to remain friends with an ex can make it work. A third have tried unsuccessfully to stay friends post-breakup. And some might be better off cutting the cord. Thirty-two percent say feelings for an ex have prevented them from finding a new relationship.
There are some circumstances when most Americans do agree that it's worthwhile to stay friends with an ex. More than half think it's worth it if a former couple have mutual friends, and 9 in 10 think it's worth it for a couple who have children together.
Among Americans who have been divorced, just 21 percent say they stayed friends with their ex, but another 44 percent say they stayed on speaking terms.
After a breakup, Americans are more likely to turn to family and friends over new flings for help in healing. Nearly two-thirds say support from friends is extremely or very helpful in getting over a breakup, and two-thirds say the same of support from family. Only a quarter think of new relationships as that helpful, and even fewer say casual dating is helpful.
Women are more likely than men to think support from friends and family is helpful, while men are more likely than women to think of new relationships or casual dating helps.
Three-quarters of American think it's better to wait before getting into a new relationship after a breakup, while about a quarter think it's not important to wait. For anyone who does try to stay friendly with an ex, 62 percent say it's better to wait before trying that, too.
The AP-WE tv Poll of 1,241 adults was conducted ahead of the premier of WE tv's new show "Ex Isle." The poll was conducted online Nov. 20-23, 2015, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.