Do I Have To Give Them Up Too? Breaking Up With Your Ex’s Family

August 2, 2015  |  

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Most would agree that breakups are hard, especially if it’s a long-term relationship that has come to an end. Even in the most amicable of breakups, having to pick up the pieces and start all over again can take some serious adjustment. But imagine if it’s not just the man you have to get over. If you have gotten cozy with your ex’s family, now you may have to mourn the end of your relationship with them as well.

I remember that awkward moment when I received a friend request on Facebook from my ex’s mother. We talked on the phone here and there when her son and I dated but it wasn’t the type of relationship where we’d have lunch or go shopping. So when I broke up with him I didn’t really give my relationship with her a second thought. I didn’t give his siblings a second thought either. It was a clean break. Or so I thought.

I had moved on and started dating someone else when I began getting calls and emails from her. She wanted to continue our “friendship” and it made me feel weird. My new boyfriend didn’t dig it either. I ended up accepting her friend request and made sure to set my privacy settings for her accordingly so she wouldn’t be privy to photos that showed my new budding romance unfold. She eventually unfriended me. Now, the breakup was finally complete.

That budding romance has since led to marriage, and I not only adore my mother-in-law but his entire family. When I say entire family, I mean stepchildren, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews–I love them all. And they love me. I can go visit them and stay for holidays without my husband being present and it’s all love. They truly feel like an extension of my own family and I proudly claim them as such. It’s hard to imagine them not being in my life and since my husband and I share a son, they will always be attached to me whether I’d want them to be or not.

But what if you have no children bonding you to your ex’s family? Are you entitled to continuing your relationship with them after you and your ex break up? Even if you do share children, how much access should you expect to his family after a split or divorce? I am my husband’s second wife, and I know his ex-wife calls his mother from time to time to chat. That doesn’t bother me since she was once her son’s wife and is the mother of his other children. I understand. But if a random ex still wanted to be cool with the family, I think I’d feel some type of way about it.

Marriage can make things tricky in this area, and it depends on the maturity level and the reason for the breakup to determine how friendly in-laws should remain. I know that if my husband did something to hurt me my family would rally behind me and they’d never deal with him again–I’m sure his family feels the same way. In breakups, unless your ex does something especially heinous, his family will be loyal to him and not you, so you should expect to lose them in the breakup as well. And in some cases, even if your ex cheated on you with your best friend, his family still might have no choice but to stand in his corner, even if they secretly cry a river over him losing the best thing to ever happened to him.

If you’re more upset over the prospect of losing his family than losing him, you might simply have to get over it or simply give it time. It’s his family, not yours, and you’d want your family to be there for you the same way his family is going to be there for him. Besides, even if his family has no problem with remaining friends, you also have to consider the position you’d put them in if he started dating someone else. I know that caring about any of your ex’s future girlfriends may not seem like your problem–you may secretly want his family to hate her–but it’s not the mature way to handle the situation. He is no longer your concern and beyond Facebook or any other social media sites, I’d say the same holds true for his family.

If you must remain in contact with his family outside of children, be sure it’s really his family that you miss and not an attempt to keep your ex in your life. Also, make sure enough time and space has happened before you go hanging out with his little sister or inviting his mother for brunch. If he and his family are okay with you all remaining in each others lives then have at it. However, if you start dating again, make sure your new man is okay that you’re staying in touch with your ex’s family as well. If it’s supposed to be over, then let it be over–that goes for his granny too!

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