- Being friends with your ex’s family and friends can be difficult.
- Make sure you’re allowing yourself space to move and aren’t consistently reminded of them through their friends and family.
- Evaluate how genuine your friendship was with your ex’s loved ones and decide whether that friendship is worth maintaining.
Update: A previous version of this article contained quotes from an expert whose credentials are now in question. We have reached out to him for confirmation of those credentials and have not heard back. You can read Gizmodo’s investigation here, and his response here. INSIDER has updated this article as of 3/1/19.
Regardless if you’ve been with someone for a few months or a few years, experiencing a breakup can hurt just the same. Since no one goes into a relationship truly expecting it to end, the time that you invest into your partner and their personal lives and relationships can feel hard to let go of once things have started to crumble.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to let go of the relationship you’ve built with your former significant other’s family and friends.
Here are eight ways to deal with those that are important to your ex after the breakup.
Be reminded of what you can handle emotionally.
Going through a breakup can be tough on its own, but what can make it worse is still feeling obligated to having a relationship with your now ex spouse’s family. According to Amanda Frey, licensed social worker and psychotherapist at Amanda Frey Therapy, one thing that you’ll want to keep in mind after the breakup and while dealing with your ex’s family and friends is how that first affects you emotionally.
“The good news is that taking the high road here is the easiest solution, both in terms of emotional impact on you and in terms of the ability to preserve the relationship,” she said. “Keep in mind what you can handle emotionally. Will keeping your weekly coffee date with your former S.O.’s mum remind you of them too much, thereby putting salt in the wound? So on and so forth.”
Once you know what you can handle emotionally, protect that.
No matter what you are going through in your life, one of the most important things to remember is to protect your peace. And when you’re fresh off of a breakup with someone that you’ve shared your life with – regardless of the time invest in – you have to do the same.
“Almost every reasonable person will understand if you need some distance for a while,” said Frey. “Secondly, focus on your friends and family that maybe you neglected during the relationship, and reconnect with old friends. Third, stay respectful and friendly, even if the other person doesn’t feel that way. You’ll hopefully be able to retain relationships that you really care about while minimising the negative emotional impact on yourself.”
Create your boundaries and stick to them.
Although protecting your emotions is one part of keeping yourself healthy after a breakup, licensed psychotherapist and founder of the Let’s Talk Divorce Support Group Shirin Peykar, LMFT told INSIDER that setting clear boundaries with your ex, their friends and family, and yourself is one way to efficiently deal with things post-breakup.
“Start by asking yourself how you feel about maintaining contact with friends and family of your ex,” she said. “If it’s too painful or uncomfortable, create boundaries for your self-care on how much contact you’re interested in maintaining. You can even choose not to maintain contact if it hinders your healing.”
Communicate your expectations.
Having a healthy and non-combative conversation with the friends and family of your ex may not be the easiest thing to do, but it could be the most beneficial. Especially if your goal is to continue to have a relationship with them whether or not you two are able to rekindle your romance.
“Communicate openly with friends and family of your ex about your relationship expectations with them,” she said. “This includes how much of your life you’re comfortable with them sharing with your ex, how much of your ex’s life you want to hear about, if you want to have a close relationship or if you need a break initially to move on from the breakup.”
Keep it light.
Communicating with those close to your ex doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be extremely close with them or even speak to them consistently. Sometimes, it could just mean keeping it cordial instead of going out of your way – especially if you want to ensure that you aren’t the topic of discussion when they talk to or see your ex.
“Keep in mind that friends and family tend to side with the person they knew longer,” Peykar said. “Be mindful of this possibility when you share personal information about yourself post-breakup.”
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