If Your Ex Still Talks To Your Family Members, Here's What That Means
If there’s one thing I need in a breakup if I want to have any hope of moving on in a timely fashion, it’s a clean break. Some folks heal better when they're able to maintain some kind of friendship with their ex, but not me. I need at least a few months to imagine that they don't even exist in order to give my heart room to heal. So, as you can imagine, a situation where your ex still talks to your family members is pretty much a nightmare scenario for me. Unfortunately, that can happen with breakups. The question is, why? Why, after a breakup, do exes feel compelled to keep that line of communication open? Is there a good reason for them to retain a separate relationship with the people who are nearest and dearest to you, or do they always have an ulterior motive?
To get to the bottom of why some exes want to maintain contact with your family, I reached out NYC relationship expert and love coach Susan Winter, and Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast, for their takes on what it all means and what to do if you really want that contact to stop. Here's what they had to say.
Your ex has developed a friendship with your family members.
Winter tells Elite Daily that the most common reason your ex wants to say in contact with your family is probably because, over the course of your relationship, they formed their own friendships and attachments to your family. “In a case such as this, they may both be reluctant to give up the friendship just because your romance ended. This can make it uncomfortable for you — and your ex — depending upon how the relationship ended,” she explains. In order to make this scenario tolerable, Winter says boundaries are essential. “Set ground rules to keep everyone emotionally balanced. Negotiate with your ex and family member as to what locations are comfortable and which to avoid,” she says.
They are trying to get you back.
It's not all love and friendship. Another reason an ex might want to maintain a friendship with your family is to get you back, says Winter — which is not healthy. “It's not appropriate for your partner to utilize your parents as a sounding board to get you back, or to try to explain their side of the story to make themselves look better,” Winter explains. In fact, Leckie says that it’s a form of coercion. “If they are only staying in contact as a way to manipulate, to win you back, or keep tabs on you… they have bad intentions,” she tells Elite Daily.
Winter says, in this case, it’s time to cut off contact. “The end of a relationship marks the end of spending time with each other's families. Breakups require that each person goes their own way. Clinging to the last remnants of connection to you via your family isn't healthy for anyone. After a breakup, it's appropriate for your partner to say goodbye to your family and wish them well. This is a time to thank them for a vacation spent together, dinners, or any other generous contributions provided during the time of the relationship,” she says.
They have a legitimate reason to stay in contact with your family.
There are some situations, however, where your ex may have a legitimate reason to stay in contact with your family. Leckie says children is one of them. “It is difficult to completely cut ties when kids are involved. It is much better if people can handle the breakup maturely so that the children aren’t negatively affected and feel as though they have to pick sides,” she says. Another less clear-cut case where a friendship makes sense after a breakup is your ex and your family had a preexisting relationship before you dated. In that scenario, Leckie says, “[It would be] unfair for them to then have to suddenly cut ties with everyone.”
What to do if you want that contact to end.
Regardless of the reason your ex wants to stay friends with your family, there may come a time when you really just need some breathing room. In that case, the experts say it’s time to tell everyone how you’re feeling. “If you went through a hard breakup, the last thing you need is your ex sitting at the dinner table or hanging out at your parents' home,” says Winter. The first step, she explains, is to get to the bottom of why they're sticking around. “Consider the legitimacy of their desire to keep talking to your family. Is there a true friendship in existence that requires this communication? Or, is it a tactic to annoy you, punish you, or try to get you back? Your ex's intentions will be the greatest factor in how you respond,” Winter says. The next step is to speak up. “Make your sentiments known to each and every family member in advance. This way, they've been instructed as to your wishes. They're at liberty to say, ‘Thank you, but we feel it's best that everyone move on and forward,’” Winter advises.
Leckie agrees, suggesting you tell all parties how you're feeling. “Have separate discussions with both your ex and your family explaining why [it bothers you] so they can see it from your perspective,” she says. “Stay calm and definitely don’t do it when feeling overly emotional or angry.”
Ultimately, while there are various reasons why an ex might want to maintain relationships with the people around you, the experts agree you have the right to speak up if it makes you uncomfortable. Maybe a friendship is possible down the road, but the key is to honor your feelings, and for the people around to do the same.