Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend’s Ex is Horning in on His Family”

I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost two years now and things are going great. We get along really well, have the same values, and plan to get married some time in the future. The problem is, he has an ex girlfriend (of 4 years) who still maintains a relationship with his family, specifically his younger sister. My boyfriend doesn’t speak to this girl anymore as she treated him badly during their relationship. In the past, if we saw her in social settings, she was very rude to us both, but we haven’t seen her in a year and a half as we don’t live in the same town (my boyfriend’s home town).

My boyfriend’s sister just had a baby and his ex was involved in the pregnancy and now wants to spend time with the family. I know that my boyfriend can’t control his sister’s decisions, but seeing as how she has been mean to me and my boyfriend, I don’t feel as if it’s appropriate. I don’t see why this girl would want to maintain a relationship with my boyfriend’s family anyway, seeing as how she has her own very serious boyfriend. I feel like this situation is out of our control, but its making me very uncomfortable and frankly insulted that his family would allow this woman, whom they claim they don’t like, into their lives. I have talked about this situation with my boyfriend but we both feel like its his sister’s decision, so what can I do? — Annoyed with the Ex

Nothing. There’s nothing you can do. And rather than make a big deal out of something that really, truly has no effect on your relationship with your boyfriend or your relationship with his family, I’d focus your attention on things that are a tad more important. Like organizing your underwear drawer and deciding what color nail polish you’ll wear on your toes this summer. Seriously, worrying about who your boyfriend’s sister, a woman who lives in a different town than you, spends some of her precious free time with while caring for a newborn, is such a waste of your emotional energy, I almost wonder if you’re looking for reason to create some drama.

We have to pick our battles in this life. If your boyfriend, for example, were best friends with his ex and she continued to be mean to you, that might be a battle worth fighting. Or, if the ex were making your life a living hell by, I don’t know, leaving boxes of steaming human feces on your doorstep every morning, you might consider questioning your boyfriend’s sister’s judgment for befriending such a loon. Actually, I’d skip that part and go straight to alerting your local authorities. My point is: in the great scheme of things, the casual friendship that exists between two women who don’t even live in your area, one of whom you haven’t had anything to do with in over a year and a half, is a non-issue, and not worth getting your panties in a bunch over. I promise, if it’s a battle you’re looking for, you will find a real one worth fighting eventually. But this isn’t it. Let it go, and let the brand new mama make friends in peace. Your relationship with your potential in-laws will be better for it in the long run.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

31 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Mainer March 4, 2011, 9:38 am

    It’s almost the weekend Wendy. Just…a few…more…hours.

    Actually, as I was reading it, before getting to your response, I was thinking the same exact thing. Instead of stressing over it, she should try to do something to occupy her mind, perhaps a fun activity, like looking out a window or watching dust collect on the desk.

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      maynard March 4, 2011, 11:38 am

      Or paint dry, grass grow, snow melt…

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    • fast eddie

      fast eddie March 4, 2011, 8:05 pm

      LMAO 🙂

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  • avatar

    Martin March 4, 2011, 9:43 am

    Well said Wendy!~

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    MellaJade March 4, 2011, 9:53 am

    I don’t even understand why this is an issue. LW – you don’t live in the same town as this woman and if his family doesn’t like her anyway its up to them to extricate themselves from her attention. Take a deep breath, go to your happy place, and just enjoy your own life and your relationship with your man. This is really nothing to stress over and there’s nothing you can or should be doing about it.

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  • avatar

    sarolabelle March 4, 2011, 10:02 am

    I think LW really just wanted a reason to send Wendy a letter.

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    ReginaRey March 4, 2011, 10:12 am

    The only reason I can think that this would be SUCH an issue for the LW is if she believes that somewhere down the road, this ex will be present at her wedding, or somehow involved in her OWN children’s lives. But I have to say, that’s assuming a lot after only 2 years with her BF, and that’s worrying WAYYY too much about something that is WAYYY too far away. IF problems like that ever arise, she can rest assured knowing that she will have the ability to sort those problems out…but as it is now, this seems like a non-issue.

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    MissDre March 4, 2011, 10:19 am

    I can totally understand being annoyed that the ex gf is still in the picture. But Wendy is right, she’s in another town and her boyfriend isn’t involved with her at all. So it’s nothing to worry about. Just try to let it go!

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  • avatar

    lemongrass March 4, 2011, 10:32 am

    If my fiance and I split up (god forbid), I would absolutely stay in touch with his family. In fact I stay in very infrequent touch with an ex’s mother and he’s never said anything about it.

    I think maybe the LW should take this relationship as a sign that she should try to get to know his family because obviously they are worth getting to know. And to stop creating drama where there is none.

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  • avatar

    Ash March 4, 2011, 10:32 am

    LW – Although that does sound like a *possible* thorn in the side I have to agree with what Wendy and the other commenters have said…Don’t let it get to you. As of right now this ex-girlfriend isn’t affecting your relationship. Don’t let it! Focus on your life and your boyfriend. That’s the best thing you can do at the moment. Unless this woman becomes a problem down the road (and from the sounds of it, the family members would see how rude she can be) I wouldn’t even bother dwelling on this. As they say “it’s not worth your time”. Go out there and have fun instead!

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  • avatar

    ArtsyGirl March 4, 2011, 10:38 am

    Now I am not going to excuse the ex’s behavior – being rude is never excusable, but I can somewhat understand why she might be maintaining a relationship with your BFs family. She was a part of their life for a bit of time (you mentioned 4 years) and during that I am sure she was invited to holiday dinners and various other family functions – especially if they are from the same town. One of the hardest parts of a long term breakup can be loosing your SO’s family. Whatever happened that caused the end of the relationship normally has nothing to do with the SO’s family. Maybe she will be more pleasant if you ever run into her again or if not she does not factor into your life.

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  • avatar

    ladiejoy March 4, 2011, 10:54 am

    You just can’t know how or why people become friends. Clearly, the ex and the sister struck up a friendship at some point during that relationship. There is nothing wrong with this, and it speaks more for the strength of their friendship that they are still close enough to share this baby’s life. There is nothing here to indicate it’s a threat to your relationship, or that it’s even remotely inappropriate. The sister is probably very happy that the ex wanted to remain friends after the breakup. Let them live their lives, don’t begrudge them their affinity for each other.

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  • avatar

    Lindsay March 4, 2011, 11:15 am

    I agree that she can’t do anything about it. But I can understand why it’s irritating. There have been letters in the past from people who try to keep relationships going with an ex’s family, and it seems like most of the responses have been about how that’s not really appropriate, though having a friendship with the sister would be a little different than just hanging around the family all the time.

    I have to say that I’d be a little weirded out if I were the LW and more so if I were the guy and my ex was spending more time with my family than I was. Or if I knew I was going to have to see the ex all the time at family events.

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  • avatar

    maynard March 4, 2011, 11:41 am

    I eve admit to being a jealous person, but this is a little much. I seriously doubt that your bf’s sister thinks of this other woman as her brothers ex – she thinks of her as a friend. It’s not like your boyfriend is still talking to her and there’s no indication in your letter that she’s trying to reach out to your bf so listen to Wendy’s advice and let this go

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  • avatar

    cmarie March 4, 2011, 12:11 pm

    While I def agree that the LW should just ignore and move on, I understand her feelings. What happens when she and her boyfriend get married? Will she always have to put up with the mean ex, even at family functions? My brother has this issue himself. He’s with a woman, has a child with her, but her family maintains a relationship with her ex. That wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t feel uncomfortable going to family dinners knowing that the ex would be there. Family relations, especially in-laws, can be tricky business and the problem I hear the most from people is how in-laws treat the ex like part of the family while ignoring the new wife. I’m not saying that the family doesn’t have the right to associate with whoever they want, I’m just saying I understand how she feels. That being said, don’t let it become a bigger issue than it truly is.

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  • avatar

    HmC March 4, 2011, 1:00 pm

    Ah, the ex drama. Pass a certain age and it really piles up doesn’t it?

    The ex’s behavior is probably inappropriate. That is, if the ex actually was “very rude” in person to LW and her boyfriend, but that’s kind of subjective since we don’t have details. As far as the ex hanging out with his family, I don’t think many people would feel totally okay with that, but there’s nothing LW can do without alienating potential future in-laws. So, make peace with it. The important thing now is that LW and her boyfriend communicate openly about their feelings surrounding the issue, and that they’ll be a united front should this ex ever cross any really inappropriate lines.

    Personally, I’ve never quite understood the need to stay in touch with my ex’s family. I dated my ex for 8 years and I was pretty close to his family, actually they were awesome, and I totally miss them, but they’re HIS family. I have my own close, supportive family to lean on. There was no ill will in our break up, and I always will wish them the best as I wish my ex the best, but moving on with my life and developing new relationships seems to be the healthiest thing for everyone involved, especially me. Not everyone who touches your life is meant to be in it indefinitely.

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    • avatar

      ReginaRey March 4, 2011, 1:10 pm

      Really like your last line HmC – that’s a really wise statement, and very true.

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        maynard March 4, 2011, 1:21 pm

        agreed! That should be in the break up post 🙂

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        HmC March 4, 2011, 1:38 pm

        🙂

        It was a lesson hard learned, believe me.

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    • Heather

      Heather March 4, 2011, 2:38 pm

      What a rockin’ last line. I love it! I totally understand that LW has a mild irritation-I was in a situation very similar with one of my ex boyfriends. However, it’s really not a battle worth fighting. Once you let it stop bothering you, it pretty much just goes away. Be the bigger person here.

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  • avatar

    anon March 4, 2011, 1:24 pm

    I’m in a similar situation, but in my case I’m the one who’s still friends with my brother’s ex. She and I didn’t know each other before they started dating, but while they were together we became super close and by the time they broke up, she was already one of my best friends. That didn’t go away just because she and my brother didn’t work out. Yeah it was some drama after the initial breakup, and I was on my brother’s “side” of course during all of that. But as time’s gone by, and things between them have cooled, she and I have become great friends again.

    I agree with the rest of the crowd. Don’t worry about it. Your boyfriend’s sister is at a point in her life where she really needs good and supportive girlfriends. If one of those happens to be his ex, so what. Really good friends don’t come along every day, and it’s definitely not your place to expect his sister to give up one of hers.

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  • avatar

    AKchic March 4, 2011, 1:48 pm

    *laugh*

    Okay, I’ve been on the other side of this fence. My 2nd ex-husband’s former girlfriend got very, very irked at the fact that him and I spoke daily, sent emails back and forth and I called his mom and dad weekly. The differences?
    1) We had kids together
    2) The kids and I lived across country (Alaska)
    3) We were still friends
    4) She had only been with him for 3 months

    It was irritating. She had nothing to be jealous of, but she perceived some sort of threat to her relationship with him and his family. As if my being in contact with them would diminish HER relationship with them. Perhaps this is the case with the LW.
    I think that this is an issue of self-confidence and a little bit of paranoia. Let it go. If this is your biggest worry, then you’ve got a great relationship. Don’t throw it away over a petty jealousy, or you might just lose the relationship like my ex’s girlfriend did. Losing that relationship will give the ex a chance to get back with your boyfriend, which is what I think you fear deep down most of all.

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    • avatar

      lee March 4, 2011, 2:31 pm

      I agree it’s probably an issue of self-confidence and paranoia, and that she’s perceiveing a threat where there isn’t any. I mean, I understand where the LW’s coming from, but she and her boyfriend have been together a long time, and the woman doesn’t live in the same town as them or anything. His sister’s friendship with the ex doesn’t seem to affect them directly, so she should just let it go.

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  • avatar

    lee March 4, 2011, 2:27 pm

    The answer is actually in the LW’s letter:

    “I have talked about this situation with my boyfriend but we both feel like its his sister’s decision, so what can I do?”

    If you both feel it’s his sister’s decision, then you don’t have to do anything. Because, you know, it’s his sister’s decision. I have to agree with Wendy and wonder if you’re actually looking to start drama.

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  • avatar

    Amber March 4, 2011, 3:54 pm

    This would irritate me. But since you can’t really do anything about, just be grateful that they all live in a different down, I guess.

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  • katie

    Katie March 5, 2011, 2:27 am

    I have stayed in touch with a ex’s mom… i mean like we email atleast once a week and we scrapbook together and she buys me presents for every occasion… i actually made his older sister’s wedding cake about a year after we (very messily) broke up. It’s not weird- when you date a person, you make friends with the other people in their lives, be it their family or friends or whatever… and then when you break up with said person, those friendships dont just disappear. you dont break up with everyone, just him. now the fact that you said the family says that they dont like her, that is weird… maybe they just say that you to you though, to make you feel better because you are now the girlfriend you know?

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  • avatar

    anna728 March 6, 2011, 10:47 pm

    I mean, if you dated a guy for four years it’s not unusual to become close with his family. Clearly she and the sister formed a friendship outside of this. Two of my best friends in high school dated for several years and she became very close with his family, especially his mother and a cousin who was like a sister to him. When they broke up she felt sad that she wouldn’t have that same relationship with his family anymore. She still talked to them for a while, and now, several years later, she is still friends with the guy’s cousin. I suppose it’s kind of awkward but if you really consider someone your close friend, I don’t think you should have to cut them out of your life forever just because you’re not dating their brother/cousin anymore. You just have to do so respectfully and know when you’re crossing boundaries.

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  • avatar

    jena March 8, 2011, 12:23 pm

    My ex’s sisters were friend with his ex girlfriends. She was never cordial to me, always short and made remarks about the long distance that my exbf and i had between us regarding there being NO WAY the relationship would last.
    I’d never even met her, but didnt like her because she talked out of turn in my eyes. That said, I could care less if she was friends with ex’s sister. Ex didnt talk to her anymore, what does it matter?

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  • avatar

    justpeachy March 12, 2011, 9:43 pm

    I know that most the comments before me have stated that can’t do anything about it and should just move on, but I disagree. I agree that it’s understandable that his sister is still friends with the ex, but I think the new girlfriend and the brother have some right to at least know what events the ex will and will not be at. There should be a conversation between the brother, the sister, and the parents where some boundaries are established so that everyone can be comfortable (such as the ex can’t be invited to intimate family events or major holidays, but can be to things like birthdays). If they are both uncomfortable including this person in certain family gatherings, the family should at least have some respect for it.

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  • avatar

    JJ January 10, 2012, 9:13 am

    With all due respect, I feel that the people with dismissive and “get over it” comments have clearly never been on this side of the coin. If you are in love with somebody and are constantly presented with the reminder that he loved and slept with this woman who keeps showing up to events, it gets OLD! So unless this has happened to you, I’d recommend not offering advice. I feel it’s extremely insensitive of the ex to keep her life intertwined in his when a new woman is in the picture. Come on ladies, we all know what we’re capable of and how to manipulate a situation to our advantage especially if we have any inkling the man may still have feelings for us. I’m not saying I do this, but could I? Oh yes. And so could you. And you know it. So let’s be real here- this ex, and any ex, who refuses to exit stage left when a new partner comes into the picture is a jerk. And I cannot imagine doing this to any new woman of my ex-bf. Never! How messed up. If you feel you need to continue hanging out with your ex’s family, I’d recommend joining a church group or getting a new hobby where you can meet a new network. But latching on to someone else’s family is not the answer. It stunts any sort of ability for the person to bring in someone new and YOU KNOW IT. Lord, I have 9 siblings and two have recently divorced after 12 and 25 years of marriage. Maybe a xmas card or word of well-wishing is appropriate but inviting them to events? huh? Even after 12/25 of knowing them I wouldn’t be so insensitive to try to keep them actively involved in our family, especially if my sibling has a new partner. I think this is a question of respect and boundaries and not everyone chooses to acknowledge boundaries. So it causes issues. Please do not blame yourself for feeling uncomfortable because others in the situation refuse to respect boundaries. And yes you can either choose to stick it out and remain uncomfortable or walk away. The choice has to be yours. Peace.

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    • avatar

      Eve July 25, 2012, 10:24 pm

      I agree! She needs to move the hell on with her life.

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