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Posted on Thu, Nov 10, 2011 : 5 a.m.

Family adamantly against woman's reconnect with ex-boyfriend

By Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi Carolyn:

Recently, an ex-boyfriend got in touch with me and wants to go out to catch up. I've missed him a lot since we broke up two months ago (I ended it), and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way.

But my family is ADAMANTLY against it -- they never liked him, and my mom went so far as to tell me that getting back together with him would "ruin my life."

My take is, I'm 23 and I don't know what's in the future for me. I'd really like to give this relationship another shot. But I'm worried that doing so would really damage my relationship with my family, and might even cripple things with this guy due to expectations, resentment, whatever. Thoughts?

-- Meeting up with an ex

Did your family ever say WHY they oppose him so adamantly? And, why did you break up with him?

I'd validate your take -- and do in theory -- but these reasons are important.


They think he's immature and are concerned about his job stability and career motivation. Also, we broke up and got back together several times. Now they're concerned I'll get "sucked back in" and won't ever be able to end it with him.

I can see their point about the maturity level, but there was a lot of good in our relationship. I'd rather get back together and break up a million times if that's what it takes to figure out if we're right for each other. At this point, I'm still not sure.

Also: I broke up with him because we were arguing a lot, he clearly had strong feelings for me, I didn't know what I felt (especially with this family pressure) and didn't want to lead him on. Now, though, I've given a lot of thought to these things and I'd like to give it another shot. I just don't want to destroy my relationship with my family in the process.

-- Meeting, again

Ugh, OK, that makes sense -- turbulent relationships inspire spectators to step in and scream, "No, stop, I can't stand it anymore!" So I do see where your family comes from.

A lot of bumpy relationships are just that, and they get there because the two halves are immature and tentative in the way they communicate.

However, some of them aren't just bumpy, they're volatile, and the people in them can't lay off them even though they should, like addicts.

Given that possibility, it would be irresponsible of me to say, "Ignore naysayers and find out what you need to find out." So, humor me, please, and do a survey at Mosaic Threat Assessment Systems ( Developed by Gavin de Becker, among others, the survey can help you differentiate between normal ups and downs and dangerous dysfunction.

If you just have stupid dysfunction, then consider giving yourself time to grow up; certainly don't go back in under the same conditions that drove you out (and your family nuts) last time. Look for real signs of real change, do the MOSAIC, weigh the value of strength in singlehood -- and ask yourself if you're a better person with him than without, based on the choices you make. Don't say "yes" unless everything else does, too.

Email Carolyn at tellme(at), follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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