A simple word like "breakup" doesn't even begin to do justice to how complicated the dissolution of a relationship can be. The unwinding of two lives can be a truly daunting, emotional, and logistical challenge, particularly when your lives have enmeshed to the point where others also have a stake in your relationship ending, like friends and family. If your family still loves your ex and wants to maintain a connection with them, you're far from the first person to experience this kind of stress. According to Connell Barrett, a dating coach for The League and the founder of Dating Transformation, this scenario is fairly common. "[It's especially true] if your folks had expectations that this person would be part of the family," Barrett tells Elite Daily. "Just as you can still have feelings for your ex after the breakup, your parents can still be fond of that person and still have an emotional connection to them."
But does your family owe it to you to cut ties with your ex because you've ended your relationship? That's where things can be a bit complicated, as Cherlyn Chong, a dating and breakup recovery coach for professional women, tells Elite Daily. "While it's completely reasonable to expect your family to side with you, they're still their own people. So, if they have a good relationship with your ex, it won't be as easy for them to cut ties completely, and they might not even want to," she explains. "They have the right to decide who they want to keep in their lives."
If all of this sounds a bit too familiar and you're not sure how to proceed, here's how the experts suggest navigating this tricky scenario.
What To Do If You’re OK With Them Maintaining A Relationship.
Because the reasons for a breakup can vary, it's natural your response to an ex remaining in your life, even peripherally, can be complicated. You might not want to be in a relationship with them anymore, but might not necessarily have negative feelings toward them that would prevent you from wanting them around, even if it's at a distance. In that case, consider setting proper boundaries with your family, says Barrett.
“Just because you and your ex ended things, that doesn’t necessarily mean your family should cut ties as well. They’re entitled to stay in touch with your ex, so long as you agree and that they’re being respectful of you,” he explains. “For example, if your mom wants to have phone calls with your ex, you may be fine with that. But if she wanted to invite him over in your presence, you would probably not like that. There are boundary issues to consider.”
If hearing about your ex is still painful, then Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples' therapist in Los Angeles, suggests putting limits on how much information your family shares with you about their continuing relationships. “What you need to determine is just how much, if anything, you want to hear about their interactions with your ex. If the breakup is recent, it may be too painful to hear about it,” he tells Elite Daily.
What To Do If You Want Your Family To Cut Ties With Your Ex.
Depending on the nature of your breakup, it may be too painful for you to have your ex in your life in any capacity. In that case, the experts say you’ll need to communicate this to your family. ”You will have to have a vulnerable chat with your family about how you truly feel about the situation,” says Chong. “A great way to do this is to state how you feel, and the specific action that caused you to feel this way. Don't accuse or blame, just be specific as to why it hurt you. Then, state the potential consequences if this were to continue.”
Dr. Brown says it's best to stay away from making demands, but instead, request that they respect your feelings. “You may very well want to sit down with each of them individually or together and let them know what about all of this is so painful,” he says. “Especially if your ex was cruel, mean, emotionally, and physically violent, then you certainly can feel justified in asking your family to cut off ties with your ex.”
Your family may also be mourning the end of your relationship, which is why Barrett suggests coming from a place of compassion when talking to them. “Appeal to their love and affection for you, and say that by honoring this request, they’re helping you to heal from this breakup so that you can be happy. Appeal to their better angels,” he concludes.
Breakups can be hard and messy, and not just for the couple going through them. Having empathy for all the parties involved is important, but don't be afraid to honor what you need in order to heal and move on.
Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles
Connell Barrett is a dating coach for The League, and the founder of Dating Transformation
Cherlyn Chong, a dating and breakup recovery coach for professional women