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Adrienne Femnou: Breaking Up with the Ex-Boyfriend’s Family



I will try to keep it short. I used to date this guy for a year and after the breakup we kept seeing each other for another year and a half (some good and a lot of horrible moments). I got very close to his cousin, cousin’s wife and their children (for one they live across the street from my family). My little sister and I spent a lot of time at his cousin’s house. Even after the breakup, I continued to visit his family almost daily. His cousin’s children became very attached to me and they still are. A few months ago, his mother visited from Africa. I had never met her but spoke to her on the phone a few times. I accidentally met her during one of my trips to the cousin’s house and she was very very did I say very excited to meet me (obviously she did not know the status of the relationship. And I guess she also did not know he was in another relationship… Oh well).

She fell in love with me even after I told her where the relationship stood. I visited her often (at his brother’s house) and she was determined to get us back together. Great plan!!!! After one of our gazillion fights went really bad, I decided to confide in my soon-to-be mother-in-law for support and got a freezing-cold shoulder. That was my cue to leave so I stopped visiting her, and also stopped communicating with him and his brother, but “sweet mother” will not stop buzzing my phone. How do I breakup with my ex-boyfriend’s family?


Because social workers or therapist have to be culturally competent, I will give my therapeutic responses in one, two,or sometimes three parts. The different ones will be westernized, African (keeping our morals and values in the response) and religious (when needed and necessary).

In this situation I will give a universal view with some points focusing more on the African culture. Entertaining someone for almost two years after a breakup must be very strenuous. You said there were a lot of horrible moments which must take a toll on anyone’s emotional self. You brought up the idea of him having a girlfriend which means during your “seeing each other” moments, he was also getting to know someone and willing to make you aware of it(I guess).

Before I address the family issue, I want to say that it is OK to care about someone after a breakup (those feelings don’t vanish in the moment the relationship is over…THOUGH I WISH). We must also understand that it is a crucial moment to get to know ourselves even better, try to understand what went wrong, and get back to our basics. You are an individual and not defined by someone else.

Ok now the family wahala. First I am glad that you were able to find the strength within you to stop the communication between yourself and the mother and the ex. Getting a cold shoulder from someone you pretty much considered on your side (and soon-to-be) must have been devastating. You don’t mention your emotions but it goes without saying that it must have been a very rough last couple of years. You don’t need those relationships with his family unless you can separate his family from him but that is close to impossible because there is a chance of running into him, his name always coming up and more. I will say continue to keep the space until you know you are strong enough to talk about him without any hurt in your heart. I am not sure if you are still visiting the cousin daily and what the status with that is but it must be difficult to live in the same area. But take care of yourself.

You sound like a lovable person and that is a great quality. Personally, I hate families that waste a girl’s time meanwhile their son is out there building his (but that’s my two cents and personal feeling).

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Kadettmann

A's therapeutic moment is a young woman's passion for her profession. She is a young woman currently working on her master's degree. Her plan is to move back to Africa and contribute to her continent as much as she can. She loves showing empathy and being the best she can be.


  1. LILO

    October 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Rule of thumb….thou shall not meet anyone’s family until you are officially engaged. Also, be very afraid of men who are swift to introduce you to their family. You are probably not the first he has introduced nor the last and it’s probably no longer a big deal to his family cos they kno you will soon be gone

    • abi

      October 25, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      I don’t think meeting d family is a big deal as long as u don’t get unnecessary familiar wiv dem.

    • jide

      October 26, 2014 at 12:07 am

      And how is that possible? Meet the family but put your nose up and keep a distance? So they can start saying you are pompous or you think you are too cool for them? Most respectable families always ask thweir kids to keep their flings away from the house until they have met “the one”. And most respectable kids listen and don’t put their families in the awkwardness to ensues after a breakup

    • Halmz

      October 26, 2014 at 9:25 am

      You’re right, I was acquaintances with a Moji girl. The guy used to take her to his house but will hide her so his Parents don’t see her, upon that she still thought she was in a relationship. She’d come to school and be telling us how the guy took her out with his friends, diss us for not being in relationships, yet dude was hiding her in his house. After graduation this year, I stopped talking to the babe. I’ve come to realize that we (girls) aren’t just smart when we’re in love. It’s very easy for girls to be fooled these days.

    • slice

      October 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      i don’t think that’s a good idea. meeting family members has only one downside. if you break up, you have to break up with them too. but not meeting them can have huge consequences. fam members will sometimes tell u things about their child that no one will. i’ve seen and heard more than enough situations where the father or mother said, my son is immature or he beat his last girl or our family does female circumcision…all mentioned to the chick before the marriage. the guy might be willing to hide serious family traditions from u till things get serious but mothers are usually not that timid about it. so meet the family. get a better view of the guy.

      you may even come to like your date better when you meet the family. sometimes families provide a better context for who/what a person is. I might tell my sister’s date that she can be very hard headed (which i know he is struggling with) but the love with which i look at her and the other great things i say about her (like how she’d jump into a well to save you) also make clear that you know you can ignore the not so great part and enjoy the good.

    • Dlapikin

      October 26, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      I disagree, you should meet the family before proposing or agreeing to marry anybody because that’s when you will know who your man or woman truly is; Not only that but you will know what type of characters will be impacting the rest of your life.

  2. funGirl54

    October 25, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I’m so confused. He didn’t even propose to you yet you still insisted on asserting yourself on his family, why ? When will girls learn, his friends ARE NOT your friends, his family IS NOT your family. It’s really very simple, they will always have his back, you are an outsider and will forever be one until you have his last name. (even when you do they will always take his side but will be more open to yours, perhaps). I’m pretty sure after you ‘broke up’ but were still ‘seeing each other’ he was sleeping with/seeing/getting serious another girl which he most likely didn’t hide from you, as Bella stated. You don’t have respect for yourself

    When you broke up, you should have been cordial with the family and packed your remaining dignity. Marriage and relationship is not by force. As Bella stated, you should have taken time after the break up to get to know yourself, he moved on, you didn’t. Pity.

    Great advice Bella ! Love posts like this !

  3. Ife

    October 25, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    We live in a world where no two stories are the same! God writes the script of our lives and if you trust in him , he decides who remains and leaves your life . I have a similar story to this and I’m proud to say I’m willing to continue the relationship I have with the member of my ex family . We have a solid friendship and the fact that I’m no longer dating their son doesn’t strike them out of the equation . You fall in love with people’s soul. I fell in love with the soul of a member of his family and we are friends forever . BFF . God writes the script don’t be bitter , be happy, be genuinely nice to people and be at peace with yourself . No size fits all and when it comes to friendship there are no rules , if the mother has a beautiful soul and you can handle the emotional trauma keep in touch, if you can’t keep it moving . We live in an interesting world life is too short !

    • ada nnewi

      October 26, 2014 at 9:52 am

      I share your view,…

    • slice

      October 26, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      and little kids can be esp tricky. they call you aunty, play with ur hair, ask to come visit you. you just can’t kick them away bc you broke up with the guy. esp if you don’t have to see the guy when you visit the kids. Influencing a kid’s life with extra joy and happiness is a special calling. if it wouldn’t break my heart too much to visit them, i would not stop just /p/// but if it would, then God will have to give them another “play aunty”

  4. Berry Dakara

    October 25, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I remember a situation where I was talking to this guy a few years ago, and he introduced me to his parents who LOVED me immediately! They got my phone number immediately, because their son had never brought anyone home, and they would call at least once a week to ask how I was and tell me they loved me. It was all well and good, except that I realized that THEY called me more than HE did. Even when I stopped talking to him, they would still call to say they missed me and that they were sure their son loved me and I should just be patient. As nice as they were and even though I really liked them, I had to tell the guy to please come clean to his parents, cos it was just not heading in “that” direction.

    The point is, for your sanity, you might need to cut the family/friends off. I’m not saying you should hate them, but holding on might be feeding a dream that you guys will get back together.

  5. Iris

    October 25, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I don’t understand how the advice about his family is specifically African. If you’ve inserted yourself into your ex’s family and are not African will this advice not apply? These people have come again with their “African” solutions to problems. I know this was not the point but honestly when people start to say things like “they came to visit from Africa” or “African families do this” it’s infuriating. This is precisely why an American school will ban Rwandan students from attendance because of ebola in Liberia *hiss*
    Also I don’t know if it’s the time of day but the timeline is confusing. Who is the soon-to-be-mother-in-law? The mother of the person you had broken up with but were still seeing casually? When was there a proposal? And after she gave you the cold shoulder she’s in love with you again? Either way it’s too messy sha. This doesn’t apply to every case but in this case I’d say cut them all off.

  6. babygiwa

    October 25, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    You broke up with him but kept in touch with his family? For what reason? You knew he was in another relationship and you still allowed his mother to go ahead with plans to get you two together? Wow! You don’t respect yourself enough ma’am. He has moved on, do the same. And as for the family, cut them off. Be cordial and nice, but from a lonnnnnnnnnnnnng distance. Peace

  7. urghh

    October 25, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    this story is a mess. all i can contribute is that AFRICA is NOT a country!!!!
    ‘his mother visited from Africa…’
    …the author plans to move back to Africa…

    • MC

      October 27, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      But (assuming it was Nigeria) isn’t Nigeria in Africa?
      Yes, Africa is not country but there is nothing wrong with saying that.
      The same way ‘his mother (could have) visited from Europe’.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      October 27, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      Agreed. Same thing I thought and although I re-read that sentence twice myself, I wondered if that was deliberately put in by the writer to protect the anonymity of the concerned individual. That’s my paranoid mind at work.

      Whatever the reason, though, we commit this error ourselves when we say things like, “I’m flying to Europe for a month’s vacation” or “He’s working in the middle-east” so we can probably afford to cut her some slack this one time.

  8. jasmine

    October 26, 2014 at 5:06 am

    I totally get where you are coming from but adrienne is right, give yourself time, take care of you….. until you can totally separate what you feel for him n his family!

  9. Domt

    October 26, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I really don’t understand this. Please when is the best time to meet the family? Is it after the proposal like LILO stated above or before because I know some families will want to see and approve of the person their child is dating before proposal happens. Infact there are some guys who would tell you they need their mother’s consent most importantly or the girl friend father’s first of all to be sure while some girls would not be comfortable if he has no plans of formally introducing her to his people especially if it is a committed relationship(not engaged yet) because meeting family is a proof that he is indeed serious with her. Should you meet family before proposal or wait till after proposal? Please advice needed with reasons. Thank you

    • [email protected]

      October 26, 2014 at 10:50 am

      You made some good points about family approval before the guy can propose . Matter of fact, that used to be an integral part of courtship before this new era where people have lost sight of the difference between courtship and dating. Back in the days, by the time you meet the family, it’s almost a done deal and it’s an added level of security /assurance that your intents are aligned. But nowadays, even with family approval, the guy can later meet someone on twitter or Instagram and change his mind in a whim. Have you heard of a mother or father that didn’t attend their child’s wedding because of a last minute change of plans? The point here is that regardless of what the families say or think, the outcome of relationships is solely the choice of the couple. Since most families will accept their child’s choice anyway, why not postpone the whole bonding with the family to a later date after there is more certainty? If you are dating a man who is well respected by his own family, thry will most likely trust /respect his choice and Accept you with open arms. On the flip side, when a man in his late 30s or early 40s, is still making mummy’s approval a requirement, then you should be worried.

      Finally,you want to limit family interference with your relationship as much as possible. If you are just dating and are already befriending his family, they will be all up in your business. If your place has not been secured, it will be hard to sideline his family because let’s face it, you too, as a woman, are seeking their acceptance. Now if things work out, and you end up getting married, you will need some privacy and this is where the family starts to beef you cos all of a sudden you want to set boundaries after you have entered the house. Some might go as far as saying they are they ones who advocated for you when the guy wanted to change his mind. Do you really want that?

      If things don’t work out, then it’s even more awkward. A part of you feels let down by this people who were supposed to have your back.

  10. Rs

    October 26, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Move on boo boo… don’t make things too complicated for yourself.

  11. Like

    October 26, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Just moved back to Nigeria when my boyfriend insisted i met his mother who i had spoken with in the past. Since they lived outside Lagos, i requested for permission to go on this journey..

    My mother said No.. After we broke up- my mum said you see why i didnt let you meet his family members.. But he met all my family members.. Since then i only allow them meet one or two of my siblings and never my mother yet

  12. madman

    October 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    I learned the hard way, never introduce family to someone I’m not serious about .

    • Raised eyebrow

      October 26, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      @Madman I guess ure a man. And if ure, how can you date a lady for so long when you know deep inside ur heart that ure not taking her serious. Why not let her know your mind instead of leading her on to the extent of even introducing her to your family. I hate it when people know they aint serious about the other and keep stringing along. Ohhhh I guess u introduced ur desired lady to your family and they didn’t accept her, now ure regretting. Karma is gonna hit you soon!

  13. funmi oguns

    October 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    You guys should stop the criticism…it had to just forget someone you were used to for a whole year..

  14. Olori Tari

    October 26, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    To everyone out there, who is about that In-law life… Y’all are the real MVP. I no fit shout!

  15. prynced

    October 26, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Yes oh! I have never been the type to move the motion for #loversmeetingfamily#. I have always believed that a level of commitment and certainty be attained before it gets to meeting family and then the introduction would start with meeting a single sibling first. It has to be in stages oh, in short before u’ll get to meet my mum, huumm I no wetin cause am though not like I hide my relationship from her, she’d know bout my date and his history sef but will not meet him. Yes oh cz I don’t want anyone controlling my marriage both from my family and would be le’hub’s so that in case it doesn’t work out, ill walk without much drama and xplanation. And when I finally met his family,I kept my space and wasn’t that into them till they would beg to have me around which was quite impossible,all thanks to my job but truth is I always did the little I can do without forcing myself to please anyone even though they don’t appreciate me all the time. So ill say ; get your sanity back and the courage to move on, break away from his cousin and mum but not like you wouldn’t say hello when you bump into each other on the street. Life is too short, enjoy every moment and be happy,

  16. ma_diva

    October 26, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    In my case I try 2 keep my distance just have a cordial relationship with them nothing serious

  17. Aibee

    October 27, 2014 at 9:09 am

    In my case I disengaged cold turkey. I stopped calling them, I deleted every last one of them off my BBM. In my books, they don’t exist. Shikena.

  18. aa

    October 27, 2014 at 10:01 am

    me i deleted their nos. and facebook contacts. stopped answeringtehir calls and this is 4years down teh line everybody is all sorted out.

    dont have time for nansance

  19. Lonely Girl

    October 27, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Kai, I would never advice anyone to meet the guys family till you both are engaged. Met a guy last year who stayed with his mum though in different flats. When the guy went abysmal, i still kept in touch with his mum since she was sick (partial stroke) didn’t tell them anything was wrong between us since I felt that shouldn’t be me.. fast forward 6 months later and I got a rude shock from this same woman. Hurt? yeah I was but what was more annoying was when his nephew starts asking me to send him recharge card. Good radiance. I have vowed that I won’t meet his family till we are engaged and he too won’t meet my parents till he puts a ring on it.

  20. B,dot

    October 28, 2014 at 4:04 am

    @lonely girl,sending u e-hugs girl!tough,that must have been tough,lols @send me recharge card,when i used to date my ex,his family was super duper wonderful,loved me like the air they breathe,and one of the reasons i even used to forgive they boy plenty times when he messes up,but after the break up me i stopped contacting his family o,and even changed my no,but it was tough getting over the love they had for me,i though to myself what if i never find a family so welcoming like this,but when i received the shock of my life ehn, my mum and his mum met at an event,that’s how this woman started saying so many yamayama things about me to my mum o,this was someone i loved so much and i though we were buddies,this woman never even took time to find out from me what happened,not once~ Haa my mother was shocked as she had always hoped we would get back together,after that incident,she said with her own mouth,me i don’t even want you in that kind of family. So the long and short of my epistle is,for most in-laws they will always have their son/daughter’s back o,forget if he caused the break up or not and no matter the amount of love they got for u,they would always have their person’s back anytime any day. So my future mum-in-law please we shall meet 3 months to the wedding,ain’t nobody gat time for that whole shit again!

  21. oj

    October 28, 2014 at 10:49 am

    the character of the family before u marry will not be the same after you get married to their son. those who are married or are close to women who are married should know this.

  22. memebaby

    October 29, 2014 at 6:11 am

    you all know these things are tricky, we’ve all been hurt but you cannot meet your future inlaws AFTER engagement!. I mean, my parents will be pissed! who is this man that thinks he can just propose from nowhere and we’ve never heard of him. same with the guy’s family too… madam who you be ? . family has a way of interfering during dating…if you are lucky, it leads to marriage and sometimes it doesn’t. but you can’t say you will wait till you both are engaged before you meet each other’s parents for the first time. i don’t know how I feel about that.

  23. ATL's Finest

    October 29, 2014 at 6:16 am

    Some of these comments are like autobiography lol. Too long and ain’t reading it all however, honey U have moved the hell on so should everything else move the hell on. When u see the , wave and keep it moving!!! Child ain’t nobody got time for this..

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