Fiancé’s mother friends with ex girlfriends

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have been with my fiancé for two years now. I have gotten along with his family fine up until recently. His mother began emailing jokes to my fiancé and me and we noticed that there were a couple other people on the emails including an ex girlfriend, who he dated for a short period of time. My fiancé asked his mother if she was still in contact with her and she said yes that they email occasionally. He told her that it made him uncomfortable and thought that it was disrespectful to both he and I and that it would hurt my feelings. She responded very harshly by saying she wouldn’t be told who she could talk to. And that if I was that fragile than she would never be close to me any way because she would not want to have a relationship with someone that she needs to sensor what she says because of my feelings. She then deleted me from her email contacts and kept the ex. She said that she would also be a friend with another ex-gf, who had been very rude and nasty to me early on in our relationship, if she was given the chance. I felt like the response was totally irrational, mean and disrespectful. I felt extremely hurt. Her response hurt even more than the actual emailing itself. I had always been very nice and respectful of his mother. My fiancé has been very supportive and says that he would feel just as hurt and uncomfortable if the tables were turned and it were my mother behaving in this manner. All we wanted was for some respect for our feelings. It hurt to see this relationship flaunted in front of me and then to have my future mother in-law blatantly not care less about our feelings and choose to maintain a relationship with the ex and not her future daughter in-law. Any advice or perspective would be greatly appreciated!!

A: I am sorry you are having so much difficulty with your soon-to-be mother-in-law. The fact that she lacks empathy for you and her son in these circumstances is a measure of her limitation. She feels affronted by both of you rather than able to understand that her behavior and attitude are offensive.

That having been said I think it is worth it for the three of you to have a talk. His mother got her back up because she felt you were trying to control whom she talks to. My encouragement is to explain that you were hurt by her reaction to your request, and her saying she would have a relationship with another ex of her son’s. I agree her behavior is disrespectful. Let her know that both of you have decided not to accept being treated this way.

Leave the ball in her court by letting her know that you simply won’t allow her to be hurtful to the two of you, but if she were interested in a relationship without the hurtfulness you would be open to it.

Then make a conscious decision to detach from her. In other words, don’t try to fix her, but instead have compassion. My sincerest hope is that she will rethink her position and be able to have a better relationship with both of you.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Apr 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Fiancé’s mother friends with ex girlfriends. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/04/13/fiance%e2%80%99s-mother-friends-with-ex-girlfriends/