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ASK ELLIE: Delicate balancing act with son's ex-fiancée and her family

Ellie Tesher
Ellie Tesher - Contributed

Q:

My son and his fiancée recently parted ways. We loved his fiancée and her family. There were several visits, and we were all connected on social media.

Today, I wished a member of my son’s ex-fiancée's family a happy birthday. I’m wondering if this is appropriate. There doesn’t seem to be any animosity.

Is it healthier to cut all ties? How do we do this without offending?

My son doesn’t communicate well with us so I’m somewhat in a vacuum when it comes to how the other family’s feeling. This was a three-year relationship, and we loved this young woman and her family.

- Confused Over Son’s Break-up

A:

Tell your son, by phone or email, that as parents you support him personally in his recent break-up. You haven’t said or don’t know why the couple parted ways, so he may be very hurt about it and appreciate your support or is the one who ended it.

Then ask for his thoughts on your own confusion about how to handle the three-year relationship that was built between you and the young woman and her family.

Be aware that he may have feelings of hurt, anger or privacy issues why he doesn’t want to discuss this. If so, it’s likely wiser for you and better for your own parent-son relationship to lessen your outreach to his ex and her relatives.

Meanwhile, your recent birthday wish was well meant and undoubtedly accepted as such. And hopefully, a simple note to his fiancée can help ease the situation. Tell her that you and your husband loved getting to know her and wish her all the best for her future.

If you feel moved to write her parents, keep it equally simple: You very much enjoyed getting to know them over these past years, and for that reason and your high regard for their daughter, you’re sorry about the break-up and wish all their family well for the future.


Q:

Help! I joined an online art class and enjoy the instructor’s teaching. She uses her maiden name, so I only just realized through a reference she made, that I slept with her husband once, three years ago.

I’d just been dumped by my boyfriend, went to a bar seeking a hookup and swiped back to a stranger. I never saw him again. Should I tell her? She should know that he cheated then and may still be cheating.

- Disgusted

A:

She’s not a close friend. She may already know that he cheats or did. They may’ve got past it. Find another art teacher.


Feedback regarding the woman ghosted by her boyfriend of 18 months after she asked him where he thought their relationship was going (Feb. 15):

Reader: I ghosted a former on-and-off lover of almost 14 years because it was the only way I could move on with my life.

Every time that I'd break up with him, he'd manage to get back in my life. Your tip-of-the-day was about people who ghost their former lover being emotionally cold and distanced despite your pain.

But my situation with this man was very different. I’m not emotionally cold/distanced, I needed to protect myself from his toxicity.

I was the one in pain. That was four years ago and I’m pain-free now.

Ellie: Yes, your situation was different from the one in that day’s column which is what my tip was referencing. Good for you in this case for extricating yourself from a serial on-off lover.


Feedback regarding worried relatives/friends of a woman in hospital with COVID-19, who’s so popularly loved that her adult children are overwhelmed with emails/calls about her condition (Feb. 15):

Reader: There are many apps for that situation. Caring Bridge is just one example.

It allows the principal caregiver or givers to post updates when available and the family and friends to post words of love and encouragement.

The result: The caregiver only has to repeat the information once instead of answering many phone calls and emails. It’s similar to Facebook but with more privacy and purpose driven. It’s much easier on all at a difficult time.

Reader 2: When my husband was ill, I made a group email of friends and family I wanted to keep in the loop. I then wrote one update to send to them all. I found this very useful and time-saving when I wanted to concentrate on his well-being.


Ellie’s tip of the day:

  • If you know someone who’s cheated, examine why you’re planning to expose them.

Read Ellie Monday to Saturday. Send relationship questions to [email protected]. Follow @ellieadvice.

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Ellie Tesher
Ellie Tesher

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