Once Your Ex Becomes an Ex, His Family Has to Become an Ex Too


Broken heartI missed my almost mother-in-law’s birthday last week. You know how you get the feeling like there’s something about a particular date you should be remembering, like it has some sort of significance but you just can’t dial up exactly what it is in your memory? Turns out, that’s what it was. I was kicking myself all over my own rump for forgetting it.

Because she’s my ex-boyfriend’s mama, some folks might wonder what the big deal is. She’s just the woman responsible for birthing my used-to-be. That’s only partially true. For some reason, I have a personal habit of maintaining better relationships with the mothers of my boyfriends than I do with the actual guys.

Even though me and their sons weren’t able to make it last forever, me and their mamas stay in touch, talk on the phone, even hang out — much to the chagrin of the dudes who brought us together in the first place.  

Depending on how close you were to your one-time man’s circle of loved ones, the crash and burned relationship could be like going through two, three, four breakups instead of just the one. I mean, you spend X number of years with a person, getting to know not only them and their quirks and irks, but meeting and bonding with their family, their friends, their fraternity brothers, their co-workers, even their doggone barber. You’re immersed into his life, which means developing connections with the people around him.

It’s generally important to guys that the people they love, love their girlfriend too, especially if they’re really serious about her. So after facilitating all of that unity, I don’t think it’s a fair expectation to abruptly sever friendships with family and other loved ones when a couple parts ways.

When my daughter’s father and I called it quits (or, if you’re really keeping tabs, when he dumped my butt), I’d already developed friendships with a lot of his homeboys because we’d not only spent the last three years together, but some of us went to the same college, too. Of course their allegiance was with him — I wasn’t a fool to think that, if they were forced to pick sides, they wouldn’t leave me hanging, albeit apologetically.

But his mother and I were a different story. I think she saw a lot of herself in me: I was young, I was passionate and full of opinion, and I was a single mom like she’d been for the past 20-odd years. We were so close at one point, that I opted to call and talk to her about things going on in my life instead of my own mom. Nothing about the breakup changed that, and that made the ex man pretty darn angry. He wanted her to cut me off just like he did.

Ten years later, his mama’s digits are still in my speed dial, not out of spite, but because I am the gatekeeper to her granddaughter and, on top of that, we genuinely enjoy talking to one another.

If it was the other way around, I wouldn’t mind. My mom adores my last boyfriend, the one I was with for eight years who never worked up the ambition to ask me to marry him. He calls from time to time to check on her and she cheerily reports that they’ve talked — even though I’m almost positive she’s never held one conversation with my current boyfriend, much less a secret phone chit chat.

Maintaining a relationship with an ex’s people runs the risk of being awkward, especially when the breakup is fresh. No one wants to waltz into the safety and sanctity of their parent’s house and stumble on the dreaded ex sitting in the living room watching the game or shooting the breeze in the kitchen like nothing ever happened. Talk about cuing the Friday the 13th screeching murder scene music. That’s a nightmare.

Is it only right to cease and desist your relationship with an ex’s family after you break up?


Image via kelsey_lovefusionphoto/Flickr 

dating, divorce, exes, love, marriage, breakups, commitment


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nonmember avatar JP

As someone on the OTHER side of this (wife to someone who has an ex that just won't leave the family alone)...I say that eventually (of course not when children are involved) you need to sever ties with that family- you are no longer a part of them, especially when that person you were with moves on..it becomes more than awkward and makes you look desperate....think about how that new wife, girfriend, or SO feels that the EX still continues to attempt to be involved with that family....or imagine how your new boyfriend or husband might feel that you continue to contact the family of someone who you are supposedly not with anymore, potentially to the detriment of forging a relationship with the family of the NEW person you are involved with...yes, its difficut to break up, but that's what needs to be done.

Susie19 Susie19

I think it's okay in your situation because she is your daughter's grandma, just make sure that you don't butt in too much when it comes to their family time, like you shouldn't hang out with them on Christmas and things like that.  However, if you didn't have a child with your ex then Hell No, you would need to kick rocks!  

jands... jandshyne

I agree with the other two comments.  If there's a child involved and they are grandparents to your young child then obviously you have to maintain a relationship, new S/O on his/her part or not.  If not?  Call it quits.  My husband's aunt finally divorced her scum bag of a husband when her girls were teenagers.  One was a Senior in high school actually.  He had a huge Catholic family that were over involved in everything to do with everyone.  She still almost 11 years later can't stand it.  He re-married the woman he was stepping out with in rather quick fashion and the girls were old enough to decide or not decide to spend time with him and to drive themselves to family functions, but it stung her to not be included and still does.  In their case it was 19 years of marriage and his family cut her off like she never existed and she couldn't understand it and it hurt her.  If you can cut off a "family relationship" after 19 years and two kids then I say, barring small children, cut it off.  Especially for the future happiness of everyone involved.  JMHO.  If hubby and I split I'd have NO issue cutting his family out and I have small kids.  I'd drop them off on occasion and run, but more so, I'd hope he'd take them over when he had them with him and I never had to talk to them again.

Senia... Seniahmom

If it were short term relationships with little family contact I could see cutting ties. But after long term relationships and building ties with a family, especially with children involved it seems fool-hardy to sever all contact. Why destroy friendships you treasure because of one failed relationship? If handled with tact and delicacy relationships can still be maintained.

Jenny... JennyG0929

Let the ex be responsible for maintaining the relationship with the grandchild. Not your place. Move on.

2love 2love

I agree with keeping contact with grandparents and stuff. My daughters auntie is a very close friend more of a best friend. She is getting married and i am in her wedding even though Im the exwife. And when i get married again she can guarantee she is in mine. Our relationship has nothing to do with her brother... We are adults and if he doesn't like it oh well.

babya... babyalfaro

My ex and I broke up about a year ago, and I see his family twice or more a month. I'm very close to my ex's brother and sister in law. I lost my parents 4yrs ago, so they kinda took me in(Even though I'm 26). My ex has no problem on me coming over, actually he encourages me to come more often or to sleep over (they have a guest room). His been single since we broke up, but I'm very much aware that one day he will have someone and I will walk away, outta of respect for his girlfriend or wife. But for now I'm enjoying the company.

tuffy... tuffymama

I still chat with my ex MIL. She's drunk and ridiculous, so the phone calls are exhausting as well as entertaining. She means well. Most of her family just can't get it together. It's sad.

Izla Izla

This is an uncomfortable situation for the new girlfriend, wife, whatever. My husband's ex used to spend the night with his mom, or have her over to her house for weeks at a time, where they naturally discussed him, us, our children and what they thought he could do better and then they both would attack him with it, seperately and together. At one point, just before his ex tried to take his daughter from us, his mother not only knew, but failed to tell her son. She'd ask me to borrow this movie, stop by or whatever, ignore her grandchildren that I had and run out to go meet his ex.

These relationships are not only hurtful to the new person in your exes life, but also to your ex(at one point my husband insisted that his mother loved his ex more than him and he had to learn to live with it). You make a valid point with there being a relationship for years, but its *his* mother, that relationship should take precedence.  Furthermore, the kid excuse is bs. It is not your responsibility to ensure Grandma is up to date, its your responsibility to make sure dad is up to date an let him update his family.

This situation almost destroyed a family, and broke many hearts. I think its selfish to want to maintain a relationship that will probably end up hurting more than one person in the end..


nonmember avatar Stephanie

You know who is really going to be hurt by all this? Your child, who has to grow up in a fractured and fragmented family because her mom couldn't keep her pants on until she was married. It's not PC to say, but having a kid out of wedlock is one of the worst, most selfish things a mom can do and the kids pay the price. Men and women need to stop putting heir sexual appetites above what's best for their kids - if you had waited until marriage your daughter wouldn't have to grow up with the searing pain of knowing her Dad hates her mom and will in all likelihood have little to do with her soon enough. And to head of the common argument that having kids while married won't protect them from thr pain of divorce - that'd just a distraction. Other people hurting their kids doesn't make it right to hurt yours.

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