3 Rules For Staying Friends With Your Ex’s Momby Lilit Marcus on May 08, 2012
I used to have a tradition with Nancy (not her real name). Every week, we watched Dancing with the Stars, picking apart performances and deciding who we were going to vote for that week. “I always wanted a daughter so that we could do things like this together,” she said. Two weeks later, her son broke up with me.
Skip ahead a few years. When James and I split up, his mother Alice (also not her real name) emailed me to ask how I was doing and, more importantly, if we could still be friends. Absolutely, I said. After all, I had broken up with her son — not her. Two days later, I unfriended James on Facebook, but Alice remained on my list.
Maybe I just lucked out when it came to mothers of boyfriends. I’ve heard enough stories from friends about nightmare mothers-in-law that I knew to value good relationships. My own mom is awesome, but she lives a plane ride away, and talking on Skype isn’t the same as actually hanging out. Both Nancy and Alice lived close to where I live now and hosted me for holidays or long weekends.
I’ve always sought out strong, smart older women as mentors and as friends, and Nancy and Alice are living, breathing examples of the kind of woman I’d like to be. Nancy owned her own company. Alice had been a single mother and college dropout who worked her way up from assistant to executive. I got the unique opportunity to learn from both of them outside of a workplace setting, as well as witnessing how they balanced work and family life. But they were also both great wives, mothers, and friends, and I got to see many sides of their personalities.
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All that said, I have a couple of ground rules for my friendships with Alice and Nancy:
- First, I never ask about how their sons are doing. If I really want to know, that’s what Facebook stalking is for.
- Second, I never ask them to take sides or say anything negative about their kids. It’s pretty ridiculous to expect someone to take your side against their own family’s side.
- Third, I don’t ask them for relationship advice. Asking my ex’s mom for advice about my new boyfriend is awkward at best, even if I would benefit from her wisdom. Dancing with the Stars is still fair game, though.
Have you ever stayed friends with your ex’s mom (or other family members)? What has made it work — or not work?