If Your Ex's Mom Texts You, Here's How To Respond So It's Not Super Awk

If you feel anything from warmth, to sadness, to sheer panic at the thought of your ex's mom texting you, it's understandable. Breakups are already painful enough as it is, but they can be even sadder if you developed a close bond with your ex's family. It's a bummer to think you can't go over to your ex's house for their dad's specialty dessert or to hang out with their dog. You might find memes you would've sent your ex's sister in a heartbeat, but now, you hesitate. And while running into your ex's family in public would have been lit pre-breakup, now it just feels awkward.

Even though the vibe between you and your ex's family might not ever be the same, there is room for courteous, civil interaction. Psychotherapist and life coach Katherine Weed says that post-breakup family dynamics, including those between you and your ex's mom, will depend on your existing, pre-breakup relationship. "If it was a toxic, unhealthy relationship and the mother was heavily involved in the drama, we will understandably respond in a completely different way than if it was relatively stable relationship, where we had an authentically close relationship with the mother," Weed tells Elite Daily. "The key is to not abandon ourselves or our own needs."

Here's how you can proceed with your ex's mom in a way that minimizes awkwardness, and maximizes well-being and peace of mind.

Pause & Give Yourself A Moment Before Acting

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First and foremost, think before you text. If your ex's mom's name pops up in your messages, Dr. Aimee Martinez, a clinical psychologist, advises taking some time to notice your gut reaction. "That will give you some useful information about how to proceed. For example, were you immediately drawn to message back? Perhaps you had a close relationship to this person and miss them," Martinez suggests. "Or were you immediately put off and felt intruded upon, because this person consistently found ways to be part of your relationship?"

Either way, remember: You don't have to respond. If you're still processing the loss of your romantic relationship, all parties should respect what you're going through. Engaging with a message from your ex's family can trigger painful feelings, Martinez says, especially when you're having a tough time getting over them. At the end of the day, consider putting your own mental health first.

Be Authentic To Your Feelings

"Generally speaking, you should just express how you feel, clearly and simply," Weed says. Don't try to "strategize" or attempt to come off in some particular, inauthentic way.

If you don't want your ex's mom reaching out to you, feel free to communicate that with them in a respectful way. On the other hand, Weed adds, "If you had a close relationship with her and have decided that you’d like her in your life to some degree, then communicate that clearly, too."

How To Respond To A "Happy Birthday" Or "Congrats" Text

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Your ex's mom might keep to themselves for the most part post-breakup, but reach out on specific occasions, like your birthday, graduation, or in response to you snagging that new job. Hearing from them on a day like that might throw you for a loop, and again, that's OK. One approach you can take is recognizing the thoughtfulness behind your ex's mom's gesture. "It’s nice to be thought of, and sometimes a simple acknowledgement like 'thank you' can be enough," Martinez says.

Still, it is your big day. You deserve to have your accomplishments acknowledged without any added stress or pressure. "If responding might lead to a larger conversation that you don’t feel comfortable [enough] to engage in, remember this: No response is a response," Martinez says.

How To Respond When They're Simply Thinking Of You

On the other hand, your ex's mom might hit you up saying that they're thinking of you, or that a particular song or Facebook post reminded them of you. Instances like these can stir up a lot of feelings. Your own mix of emotions might be different ratios of anger at how things turned out with your former partner, grief at the connections lost, or gratitude for your ex's family.

"One of the things that can be so hard in breakups is not only that the relationship ends, but that can also mean a loss of relationship family members you might have become close to. You’re fabulous," Martinez says. "Of course, they miss you and keep you in mind! But only you can determine whether or not acknowledging and reciprocating this missing will be helpful for you."

When it comes to responding to this kind of text from your ex's mom, you can simply say "thank you" and move on, if that's what makes you feel comfortable. You can also say, "I'm doing OK, but I miss you," if the situation calls for it. And finally, if you're feeling overwhelmed but want to acknowledge their kind gesture, you can say, "I really appreciate you reaching out. You mean a lot to me, but it’s too hard for me to have you in my life right now, now that [insert ex's name here] and I are no longer together."

How To Respond To A Post-Breakup Confrontation

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On the off-chance that your ex's mom sends you a text that's a little less benign, like a text demanding details on the breakup, Martinez says, "It’s important to remember that your relationship was between you and your partner — not you, your partner, and their mother." Unlike a cooking video on Facebook, a text about the song you had on repeat this year, or a simple "congrats," this kind of post-breakup text from your ex's mom can make you feel heated. Again, taking space to cool off before responding is crucial.

"If your ex’s mom confronts you or asks you about the breakup, if you’d like to share with her, then you can," Weed says. But if it feels too invasive, you can definitely shut the conversation down.

A text Weed recommends sending back is, "I appreciate you asking about our breakup, but I don’t feel comfortable discussing the details with you. I feel like it violates some of my own boundaries and puts me in a difficult situation." Even more firm, a text that Martinez recommends sending is, “I have received your text but am choosing not to engage in this conversation. Please do not text me further." You might get a negative response from your ex's mom, but what's important is that you stated your limits in order to protect your own well-being.

Relationships — getting in them, staying in them, and detangling yourself from them — can be super complicated. Gathering the input of friends, therapists, or counselors can be helpful to your post-breakup recovery, but only you can decide what's best for you. Ultimately, you deserve to have peace of mind, especially in the delicate but important post-breakup healing process. Don't be afraid to claim that peace for yourself, even if it means setting firm boundaries with your ex's mom.