This post may contain affiliate links and Rebel Love may be compensated for purchases visitors make through these links. We only promote products and services we really care about and that we think are useful. Read the full policy here.

Breaking up with a partner is already challenging, but when it comes with losing the adjacent relationships that grew alongside the romantic one, it can feel like a double blow. 

The close bonds many of us form with our in-laws –  connections that can feel as strong as our own familial relations – make them quite difficult to sever. It’s not something that’s often spoken about, but coping with the loss of your in-laws after a breakup can add to the primary pain. And it can add a layer of complex emotions that require boundaries, similarly to those you experience and require with your ex.  This coinciding loss can be significant and deserve acknowledgment. 

a photo of grandparents and 2 female kids and their mom holding sunflowers sitting on a bench

Coping with this loss involves recognizing the depth of these familial connections and allowing yourself to grieve the change in these relationships. You must remember that healing is possible, and there are tools you can implement to help you navigate this challenging time. 

Just like any loss or breakup, by prioritizing your emotional well-being and implementing healthy coping mechanisms, you can gradually find peace and acceptance as you move forward. 

Here are some specific strategies to help you through the loss of your in-laws after a breakup.

Have you ever experienced the challenge of losing relationships with your in-laws after a breakup?

Check in with Yourself

Before making any decisions about your relationship with your former in-laws, take some time to check in with yourself. Reflect on your feelings and needs. 

Is there a part of you that wants to stay in touch with them? Will this contact feel good in the moment but hinder your ability to move on in the long run? Or will it support your healing? 

Understanding not only what you want but also (and perhaps more importantly) what you truly need will provide the direction you’re meant to move in. 

Your emotional well-being should be the priority as you navigate this transition; a compass to check in with and ensure you haven’t strayed from.

How important do you think it is to prioritize your well-being when coping with the loss of in-laws after a breakup?

Communicate with Your Ex-Partner

If you decide that maintaining contact with your in-laws won’t hinder your ability to move on from your relationship, and may actually be good for you because you’ve developed your own relationship with them, then it’s important to discuss this with your ex-partner. Your ex is going through their own journey of exiting the relationship, so respecting their boundaries and needs is tantamount. 

Ultimately, your ex-partner has the authority to determine the level of access you should have with their family. Be open to compromise and negotiation, focusing on what is best for everyone involved.

Disregarding your ex’s wishes may strain any remaining goodwill between you, making it harder for both of you to heal and move forward separately. It will also impact your ability to have a regular relationship with your in-laws going forward.

Communicate with Your In-Laws

a photo of a middle aged woman talking to an old woman

If your ex-partner is supportive of your continuing relationship with their family, the next step is to clarify what that entails. 

Establish clear boundaries to ensure that the relationship remains respectful and considerate of everyone’s feelings, which also includes taking the time to gauge your in-laws’ comfort levels. They, too, may need space to process the end of your relationship and adjust to the new circumstances. 

Engaging in honest and empathetic conversations with your in-laws can help address any concerns and establish mutual understanding.

Consider Your Circumstances

Your living situation poses its own unique challenges when it comes to navigating relationships or coping with the loss of in-laws after a breakup. 

Big cities make it easier to keep distance when you’re not maintaining a relationship, but make it more difficult to stay connected if you choose the alternative. Small towns, on the other hand, pose the opposite case.

Should you not wish to continue your relationship with your in-laws, here are ways to effectively manage these circumstances:

Do you believe maintaining contact with your in-laws after a breakup can hinder or aid in your healing process?

🖤 Establish Boundaries: Clearly communicate your limits to your in-laws regarding the level of contact you’re comfortable with. Let them know that while you value the relationship, you need some time and space to process the breakup.  Express your feelings and needs to your in-laws in a respectful and honest manner. Let them know that while you appreciate their support, you need some time to focus on yourself and heal from the loss.

🖤 Limit Contact: Reduce the frequency of contact with your in-laws to give yourself space to heal. This might involve politely declining invitations for visits or social gatherings, calls or other interactions with them.

🖤 Engage in Self-Care: Focus on self-care activities that promote your emotional well-being and healing process. This might include spending time with supportive friends and family, engaging in hobbies you enjoy, or seeking therapy to work through your emotions.

🖤 Redirect Focus: Redirect your focus and energy towards other aspects of your life that bring you fulfillment and joy. This could involve pursuing new interests, investing in personal growth, or setting goals for your future.

🖤 Create Physical Distance: If necessary, consider creating physical distance by avoiding places where you’re likely to run into your in-laws or moving to a different neighborhood or town if feasible. If you live in a small town, this may pose more of a challenge. This is where communication is important, and if needed, maybe find alternative hangout spots until you feel more secure.

🖤 Seek Professional Support: If you’re struggling to cope with the loss of your relationship with your in-laws, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and help you navigate your emotions.

Should you wish to continue your relationship with your in-laws, here are ways to effectively manage these circumstances:

💗 Structured Visits/Scheduled Communication: Establishing structured visits and channels of communication with your in-laws can help maintain boundaries while maintaining the relationship. By scheduling specific times for interactions, encounters will be intentional and respectful towards each other’s space and time. 

Lastly, clearly communicate how often you’re comfortable interacting and what methods of communication work best for you (e.g., video calls, email, in-person visits, etc.).

💗 Engage in Community Activities: Participating in community activities or events can provide opportunities to see your in-laws in neutral settings while taking focus off your ended relationship. This can help keep your relationship specific to you and separate from your ex.

💗 Establish Support Systems: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or a therapist who can offer guidance and validation as you navigate these relationships. Having a support system in place can provide reassurance and help alleviate feelings of isolation or discomfort.

💗 Respect Privacy: Respect the privacy of your in-laws and refrain from sharing personal information or discussing sensitive topics without their consent. Maintaining boundaries around privacy can help preserve trust and mutual respect in the relationship.

If at any point your in-laws do not respect your boundaries, it may be important to take a step back and reevaluate the necessity of the relationship.

Have you ever discussed with your ex-partner the possibility of maintaining a relationship with their family after the breakup?

Prioritize Psychological Well-being

When coping with the loss of your in-laws after a breakup, it’s important to prioritize your psychological well-being. 

Take time to evaluate how maintaining contact with them might make you feel. If it brings you comfort and support, it may be worth continuing the relationship. However, if it exacerbates sadness or discomfort, or hinders your ability to move on from your ex, recognize that it’s okay to let go.

If you’re not sure how to gauge this, here are a few questions to reflect on:

🧘🏽‍♀️ Reflect on the dynamics of your relationship with your in-laws before the breakup. Did you feel valued, respected, and supported by them, or did you experience tension, conflict, or a lack of understanding?

🧘🏽‍♀️ Consider the level of communication and mutual respect between you and your in-laws while you were still in a relationship with your ex. Did you feel comfortable expressing your thoughts and feelings around them, and did they make an effort to understand and support you?

🧘🏽‍♀️ Reflect on your interactions with your in-laws since the breakup. Have these interactions helped you in any way to navigate through your emotions and move forward, or have they added to your distress?

🧘🏽‍♀️ Consider the impact of maintaining contact with your in-laws on your ability to establish healthy boundaries and focus on your own well-being. Are these interactions empowering you to prioritize yourself, or are they hindering your progress towards healing and closure?

🧘🏽‍♀️ Imagine a scenario where you no longer maintain contact with your in-laws. How do you feel about this possibility? Does it bring a sense of relief or liberation, or does it evoke feelings of guilt or loss?

🧘🏽‍♀️ Reflect on your long-term goals for emotional healing and growth. How does the presence or absence of communication with your in-laws align with these goals?

Coping with Loss

If, in the end, you and/or your ex have decided that maintaining contact with your in-laws is not the right choice, coping with the loss can be challenging, albeit manageable. Here are five steps to help you through the process:

a photo of a black family hugging each other tight

💕 Acknowledge Your Feelings: Allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship with your in-laws. It’s normal to feel sadness, anger, or even relief. Acknowledging these emotions is an essential part of the healing process.

💕 Seek Support: Lean on friends, family, or a therapist for support during this time. Talking about your feelings with others who understand can provide comfort and validation.

💕 Focus on Self-Care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Take care of your physical and emotional state through practices such as exercise, meditation, and hobbies.

💕 Create Boundaries: Establish space between you, your ex-partner and their family to protect your emotional well-being. This may involve limiting communication, blocking them on social media, avoiding certain social events, and creating boundaries with mutual friends or your shared network.

💕 Find Closure: Closure is essential for moving forward. Take the time to reflect on the relationship with your in-laws and express any unresolved feelings through journaling or conversations with a trusted friend.

Which coping strategy do you find most effective when dealing with the loss of relationships with your in-laws after a breakup?

For Parents: Maintaining Relationships for Your Children’s Sake

For parents, the loss of in-laws after a breakup can be particularly challenging, especially when considering the impact on your children. 

Where it’s healthy to do so, you can prioritize the well-being of your children by continuing keeping them in contact with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins. 

Open communication, respectful boundaries, and a focus on consistency can help ensure that the children maintain meaningful relationships with their extended family members despite the changes in the parental dynamic. 

This will most likely require a reduction in communication. The goal is to keep these conversations exclusively focused on the children – visits, drop-offs, pickups, etc. – and not reacting to anything that is outside of those limits. 

Prioritizing your and your children’s emotional needs offers the opportunity to work collaboratively with your ex-partner and in-laws, and navigate this transition with sensitivity and compassion.