6 Rules For Talking To Your Ex's Family

by Kaitlyn Wylde

If you are close to your partner's family, breaking up can feel like a double whammy of loss. It can also be a really confusing predicament for both parties. After the initial shock of the break up is processed, people on the periphery start to wonder, "Does this mean we're breaking up, too?" For some people, when they break up with their partner, they break up with their partner's family, cut and dry. It's too messy and complicated to even consider keeping up a relationship with their family. But in other cases, it's not that simple.

Sometimes the friendships you make with your partner's family transcend your relationship with your partner. Sometimes you're not just friendly with their mother for the sake of non-awkward holidays; sometimes you develop a close bond. And sometimes you don't just tolerate their siblings, but you become real friends. And just because your romantic relationship with their sibling isn't going to work out doesn't necessarily mean you need to end the friendships you've found. But there are some rules about figuring these things out in the best possible way, so as to not make anyone uncomfortable, especially your ex. Because while it might seem like it's your right to be friends with whoever you please, getting between a family is never a good idea. These are six ways to stay in touch with your ex's family, respectfully:

Talk To Your Ex First

If your desire to stay close with your ex's family is strong enough to fight for, be an adult and talk to your ex about it. Explain to them why their family is important to you, in what capacity you'd like to stay in touch, and ask for their approval. Yes, ask. You don't want to challenge the family dynamic by cutting corners with this. Your ex might ask for some time, and your ex might say they prefer you don't continue your friendship with their family. It might make them uncomfortable, it might make the moving on process harder for them, or it might simply not sit well with them. And that's their right — they're allowed to say "no". And if they do, accept it, and don't try to communicate behind their back.

Have Your Ex Talk To Their Family

If your ex is supportive of you continuing a relationship with their family or even considering it, have them talk to their family about it. Encourage your ex to open up the conversation on your behalf, so that everyone has an opportunity to share their feelings on the matter and get on the same page. Unfortunately, it's a family decision that you can't be a part of. Families have to decide what's best for them, together.

Set Boundaries

If your ex approves, work on setting some boundaries with them first. This is both a sign of respect and mark of care. Discuss with your ex what you expect the nature of your friendship with their family to be like. Do you plan on spending time with them regularly and hanging around the family home? Do you plan on spending holidays together? What are your objectives? Talk to your ex about these things and make sure the conversation brings a unified clarity.

Be Respectful

Understand that no matter how amicable or mutual your breakup with your ex was, they're going to be a little uncomfortable at first with your continued relationship with their family. Be compassionate and try to stay out of their way. There's no need to rub it in their face by posting it all over social media. And think twice before introducing their family to your new partners. Try to keep your friendship with your ex's family separate from your ex.

Know When To Step Back

If your ex starts to date someone new, you might want to consider taking a step back and giving their new partner a chance at developing a relationship with the family. This might not be something that's ever brought up to you, so you should police yourself on this matter. If your relationship with your ex's family is getting in the way of your ex moving on, your ex feeling comfortable, or your ex feeling respected by their family, be mature and take a step back.

Think About It From Their Perspective

If your ex wanted to stay close with your family, how would it make you feel? If you had a new partner that was trying to get close to your family, would they be uncomfortable if they found our your ex still hangs around with the family? Sometimes friendships can be completely contained and not effect outside relationships. But sometimes friendships put strains on relationships and aren't worth the trouble. Breaking up isn't easy, but it's not supposed to be. Sometimes it's better for everyone's sake to cut ties, at least for a little while. Think about all of your options and make sure you're not treating anyone in a way you wouldn't want to be treated.

Images: The CW, Giphy