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Carolyn Hax: You, too, must let daughter’s ex go

Fri., Feb. 5, 2010

Dear Carolyn: My 25-year-old daughter met a guy about a year ago. He’s the perfect partner for her. She told me that he is “the one” and that she loves him so much. My whole family welcomed him as one of our own. They moved in together two months ago.

My daughter just asked him to leave. No reason to him or anyone else except that she needed to find herself. Both my family and his family are totally devastated. The guy moved to his mom’s house.

For some odd reason, I feel as though I have lost a big chunk of my heart. Now I’m disappointed in my daughter, and I miss the boyfriend. He lives two hours away, so I’ll probably never see him again.

I want to get/keep in touch with the boyfriend, but feel as though it would hurt my daughter. Any suggestions as to what I should do, or not do? – C.

It’s normal to get invested in a child’s choice of mate, especially given the closeness that comes with a good one, and the drama that comes with a bad. It’s normal for seemingly great relationships to implode for mysterious reasons. It’s normal to get swept into their grief.

You’d think with all these normal happenings and appropriate feelings there’d be a lot for you to do, but it’s the don’t-do list that’s long:

Don’t stay in touch with the boyfriend. If they had been married umpteen years I might say otherwise, but in this case, after so (relatively) little time together, your hanging on to him will only send messages your daughter doesn’t need, like, “I raised you and I don’t know what really happened, but I’m siding with him.”

If her reason for breaking up was good, then she needs you to have faith in her, and if her reason was impetuous, then her need for you to set a steady emotional example is all the more acute.

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