The other day, as I began my morning by checking emails I came across a name in my inbox that I hadn’t seen or heard in a LONG time. I won’t type the name here, but it was the name of my ex boyfriend’s mother. I was a bit surprised she had contacted me considering her son and I had broken up over 3 years ago, and I was curious as to why she was emailing me. Turns out she is planning a trip to Morocco and wanted some tips from me since she knew I had spent two weeks there. Harmless enough I guess. I wrote her back with all the advice I could give and wished her well on her trip. No big deal.
But it made me wonder what the etiquette was for keeping in touch with an ex’s family or friends. When it comes to mothers of exes, there wasn’t one that I didn’t get along with. They all liked me…some even loved me. But once the relationship ended with the son, so did the relationship with the mother. I guess it’s to be expected since relationships are hard enough, and remaining in close contact with an ex’s family could just make the breakup worse…if not simply awkward. And even if the family or I had the desire to keep in contact, it seems it’s common courtesy to part ways out of respect for the son…and possibly his new girlfriend and future family.
Receiving an email from an ex’s mother is one thing, but what about those chicks who still have lunch and go shopping with their ex man’s mom? Is that cool? Is there a certain amount of time that has to pass after the breakup before you can start hanging out with the fam again? And what if the ex has moved on and started dating seriously again – are mom, family and his friends totally off-limits? I guess it would depend on the circumstances surrounding the breakup, but I can’t even imagine remaining close to an ex’s family even if the breakup was amicable. If I have to let him go, then I have to let his family go too.
Now I’m not saying you have to give them the stank face if you run into them at the mall or avoid going to Target because you know his mom shops there every weekend. But I think it would be pretty weird for him to stop by his parents’ house and see you sitting at the dinner table chillin’. Even if the parents want you to remain in their lives in some capacity, out of respect for your ex I’d either ask him how he feels about it and respect whatever his wishes are, or simply fade to the background and let his family know that you think it’s best if you kept your distance for a while.
Sharing friends with an ex seems to be a little less sticky. But something about family – especially a parent of a ex – can be a little too close for comfort for some folks. Today I am married and my mother-in-law and I have a great relationship. I am, however, my husband’s second wife and his first wife still checks in with his mother to say hi from time to time. And I get it. She bore one of her grandsons, and despite the divorce they remained friendly. I don’t mind that. But in the case of a boyfriend/girlfriend situation, I guess I never felt like it was that deep to keep in touch with an ex’s family since we never made it to forever after. I’m not saying those who DO keep in close contact with an ex boyfriend’s mother or family are wrong, but it’s totally not for me. And I’m not sure there are any set rules when it comes to “ex-etiquette.” For me, when a relationship ends – especially if there are no kids involved – I see no reason to hang on to anything related to my ex. That means everything, including his family. Maybe we can share Facebook friends, but no more. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t like them, or even love them. It just means that people come into your life for a reason and a season. And when that season is over, it’s simply time to move on.