Those of you who have had to figure how to go back to your ex after your family disavows them will totally get what Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez might be going through right now. The Weeknd and Gomez have reportedly broken up after The Weeknd unfollowed all of Gomez's family and friends on Instagram. Gomez and Bieber were spotted hanging out three times in the last week, and although there's no official report that they are back together, one of Gomez's family members told TMZ that they will never accept "vile" Bieber.
Bieber and Gomez's complicated dating history goes back nearly a decade. With that kind of longevity in a relationship, I don't know whether it would be that surprising if they got back together. After all, their entanglement echoes those of us who have that one on-again, off-again ex we just can't shake. What do you do when you have broken up with your partner, complained about them to your friends and family, and spent years trying to get over them... only to get back together again? What do you say to friends who have listened to your rant and rave for hours about your ex? What do you tell the people who have stood by your side, only want the best for you and are worried that what you're doing will only come back to hurt you in the end?
Whether or not you're a celebrity, family holds a powerful influence over the decisions you make, and that holds true even if they don't approve. Still, experts say that it's your happiness that matters — not that of your parents. "I think that, in the United States, we put more pressure on ourselves to make other people happy," says Jennifer Rhodes, founder of Rapport Relationships. "If you really want to get back together with your ex, I would do so without announcing it to everyone."
Rhodes says that if you get back together with your ex, and it does go somewhere serious, then "you will need to sit your family down and explain your decisions." You don't want to just show up with the ex that everyone's supposed to hate at your Thanksgiving dinner and expect that everyone will play along. A little bit of warning will prepare your family and allow them to make peace with your choice ahead of time.
When you are talking to your family, therapist Nichole Richardson says that it's important to keep in mind that your family only wants the best for you. She says that it is important to take ownership in your part of the relationship so that your concerned family and friends can understand why things didn't work out and why you want to try again.
"Often, our friends and families hear all the bad or stressful parts of our relationships but are not privy to all of the special, loving moments," Richardson says. "It can be really difficult for them to understand why we would want to rekindle a relationship with someone they saw cause us pain."
Ultimately, whom you decide to date has very little to do with anyone else. Far gone are the days when fathers used to be able to treat daughters as property and sell them off to another family for marriage. Your family needs to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are the only one who can ever know what's right for you. At the same time, you need to give them adequate time and space to voice their concerns.
Richardson says that your family might offer you some valuable insight into your decision. "We each need to make these choices for ourselves and hear them out as their perspective can help us inform our choices," she says.
But if your family gives you an ultimatum, they might be being just as oppressive as that ex they so loathe. Both you and Selena Gomez have the right to date whom you want to date. As Rhodes says, "Ask your family to respect your decision." That way, the choice is solely your own.
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