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I’m a hugger. If I meet you and you seem pleasant enough, you’re getting a hug instead of a sterile handshake. According to my ex’s mother, I had her at the first hug.

During the course of the romantic relationship, I considered her to be family, going to brunches, offering to help where I could. While most would consider this sort of thing “doing too much,” I thought of her as a second mom of sorts and was relatively close with the family in general, not just when we saw each other at mutual gatherings and events. Sadly, my relationship with her son ended after quite a few years and I found myself at a crossroads. Do I keep in touch with his family or not?

I’ve heard a lot of people, even some relationship experts, say that you needn’t get too close with your significant other’s family. The idea is that you’re dating him/her and not their relatives. Also, once you break up with someone, you should also break up the family ties you had therein. But why do you have to break up with an entire family because of how things played out with the one who introduced you to them? Especially if there wasn’t any real bad blood?

Some say that breaking ties gives both parties the adequate space and time to heal and move on. Others tend to see it as the cost of doing business: The family you break up with is the collateral damage of your romantic separation. Armed with this outside influence and sentiment, I cut ties with an otherwise great group of people who were nothing but kind to me. I went ghost, changed my number with no explanation, and held onto the hope that there was the mutually silent understanding that it had to be done.

A few years had gone by, and I ran into my ex. In politely asking about his family, I was scolded for not keeping in touch with them. Apparently, his mother tried every conceivable method of getting in touch with me post-breakup, and according to him, “sadly gave up.” I’d never been so gutted. I struggled with my resolve to stay away, and the urge to reach out to someone who always had my back and wanted nothing but good for me. I got out of my own way and eventually called her.

At the risk of sounding dramatic, I will say that the phone call was very emotional. She’d asked what she had done, and even if she had offended me in some way, said that she was sorry. She expressed worry and concern and was anxious to hopefully see me again. I wanted to see her too. Too much time had passed in silence, and I genuinely missed his mother’s presence in my life.

I caught up with a friend recently and in our usual gabfest about what we did with our weekends, I divulged that I had in fact met up with my ex’s mother for brunch recently. To her chagrin, she asked why on earth I was still talking to “that woman.” I reckon, if both parties are mature enough not to hash out details of a defunct romance and can be friends, why not? I’ve never felt it necessary to cut ties to people unless I felt that said relationship was not good for me. With that being said, I feel that if you have a great relationship with an ex’s family, there’s no real need to break up completely. Draw a line, and by all means, create a reasonable emotional boundary for yourself. But you don’t have to chuck people just because some unwritten rubric on relationships tells you that you should.

How do you guys feel about this? Would you cut off an ex’s family after a breakup?

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