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Auntie SparkNotes: A Family Affair

Auntie SparkNotes: A Family Affair

Dear Auntie,

About seven months ago, I made the decision to date a guy who is part of a family that is friends with my family. Things were going great until about a month ago, when he broke up with me for no apparent reason. Well, my parents still want to be friends with his parents and still want to hang out as families. I for one, am still not comfortable with this since I still have mixed feelings for the guy I dated. My question is, is it right to hang out with the family of the guy I dated even though it might make him uncomfortable? Or should I just stay home and watch the Big Bang Theory while eating ice cream?

Are these the only two options? Because if so, ICE CREAM WINS BY DEFAULT.

...But let's be real, those aren't really your only two options. And conspicuously absent from this entire scenario is the part where you, like, actually talk to your ex and figure out how to negotiate a necessary peace. Your families' relationship with each other predates your ill-fated attempt at romance, which means that this breakup was always going to be complicated; you can't reasonably expect your folks to stop hanging out with their friends just because it didn't work out.

Which, for the record, is why dating family friends is an activity best delayed until you're living somewhere other than your parents' house. Y'know, just for future reference.

The bad news: you will, eventually, have to sack up and see this family socially again. The good news: you don't have to do it right now. And unless they're completely clueless, your parents will understand your reluctance. Six months is a not-insignificant chunk of relationship, and it's perfectly natural that you'd need time to get back on your feet after getting dumped. So if you're not currently comfy with the idea of playing Trivial Pursuit with the family Ex, you're well within your rights to adopt a temporary policy (for, say, the next six weeks) of staying home.

And if you do want to see them, your ex might have the good grace to make himself scarce for the next couple visits. (Consider it a variation on the standard rule that when a couple splits, the person who ended things usually absents himself from their shared social circle for a few weeks—giving the dumpee a chance to heal up and move on.)

But before you do that, you'll need to do this: figure out your feelings, and talk it out with your ex. It doesn't have to be in-depth or messy. Be brief, be business-like, and be clear that your only concern at this point is not making things weird. If he's similarly conflicted, he'll be glad you brought it up; if he doesn't care, then you're free to stop worrying about anything but your own comfort... and which flavor of ice cream to buy.

Have you ever dated a family friend? How'd it work out? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at

Related post: Moving on After a Breakup

Topics: Life
Tags: relationships, breakups, dating, family, awkward situations

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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