Thursday, June 28, 2012

Extended Relationships

If you are a person in a relationship or someone who has been in a relationship in the past, ponder this: have you ever realized how far your relationship actually extends? I am talking about a relationship between two people, a romantic one, love, amore, the whole enchilada.  Take my previous relationship, I dated this guy for more than a year and a half.  My longest relationship post-high school and truly serious one to be frank.  A lot happens in a year and a half, especially after a switch er neuron er something goes off in your head telling you that the relationship has long-term potential, I mean really long-term potential, as in marriage.

In my big Mexican family you don't exactly bring boys home, not with a father like mine.  In 21 years of my life I NEVER brought a boy home to meet my family, not even friends, not even for prom.  You just don't do it.  It took about 6 months into my relationship to realize that I wanted my family to A. know about this guy and B. to meet him.  I'm talking just my mom and dad, not the WHOLE family.  Just to communicate the differences in cultures this boy introduced me to his parents about a month into our relationship.  A month seemed crazy to me, and completely unacceptable in my belief.  You barely know someone after a month, have you even fought, what if it doesn't last? But, then again I learned a long time ago to respect these differences in culture, which is why I have probably been so accepted by my fellow peers of other races.

So, six months into the relationship I told my mom about it and then I mentioned how I wanted her and my dad to meet the boyfriend.  They met over dinner and a couple of months later he came home with me from college to meet my entire family.  Not just my brothers, sister-in-laws, nephews, and nieces, but cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandmothers.  It was too much, but he loved it.  He was officially attached and the relationship was officially extended.  Not only did he now have a relationship with me, but he had a relationship with my mother, inside jokes with my uncle, nerd-bonding with my brother, and an endearing love with my grandmother.

Mexicans take you in as if you're family. They feed you (a lot), and love you, and hug you, and kiss you as if you've been there their whole life.  They pay for your food, and make you feel welcome.  I think my family did a pretty good job of making the boyfriend feel welcome.  Don't think the family saw him all the time, because for the greater portion of our relationship I was in Louisiana, he was in Austin, Texas, and my family was in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in Texas.  However, because my family is a priority of mine and yes I would choose my family over the boyfriend (after all he wasn't my husband) I would go see them whenever I could.  The boyfriend would meet me in the RGV and his bonds with my family would continue as if he never left.

If you're wondering what the relationships looked like on the other end I would tell you that they were not extended.  I met his parents (who I love) and when I lived in Austin it became sort of a tradition to all have dinner together on Sunday evenings.  These dinners were always my favorite because sadly my entire family was never able to experience this as I was growing up, or now even.  Due to my family's business and the busy schedules we might have dinner with half the family but never the entire family.  I digress...his younger sister and I met as well, and she's lovely to be around, I wish I got to spend more time with her.  Thank God there is social media to keep us connected.  I met his grandmother once, and a cousin or two.  That's it.  There was not really an extended relationship and I'm not sure if it is just a cultural difference between latinos and whites, or if our families were just very different.  Any insight, anyone?

So now, a month after the break up I am experiencing, or rather, looking to experience the effects of the extended relationship.  I feel like there is a certain obligation that comes with a break up.  An obligation to the family.  After all, you didn't just have a relationship with the other person, but maybe with his/her parents, brother, sister, etc.  If it is a person in the family that you will likely not be speaking to or even seeing after the relationship the courteous thing to do is give them and yourself closure.  It is important to have boundaries, but who says you can't send a text to that person if you saw something that will remind you of your ex's mother, sister, etc.  All within reason of course.  It doesn't have to be as personal as a text but perhaps a Facebook message, Twitter DM, or another form of social media outlet.  I think it's important to set a boundary after the relationship is over, but it doesn't mean you have to let the family go as well.  You didn't break up with the family.

How do you get this closure though? By sending a card (via snail mail), making a phone call if you're capable enough, sending a text message, or using a social media outlet.  I would argue and say that you have no obligation to make this closure as personal as you can.  In fact, I think that the less personal the better.  I couldn't do a phone call for example.  But, if this is the only way to reach your ex-girlfriend's mother than do it.  Or send a simple card by mail.  What are you supposed to say?  You don't have to give the family any explanation over the breakup.  Remember, the conversation is not about the break up, it's about your relationship with them.  A simple, "I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I appreciated how welcoming you were to me.  It has been great to have you in my life and although the current circumstances will place some distance between us please know that you can always contact me for anything." Something short and sweet, if you'd like to keep the relationship open (meaning they can contact you), make sure you're clear about that.  If you'd rather close it, make sure you don't say something that will welcome them back into your life down the road.

I'm the type of person who doesn't like to close any relationships.  My old beau from high school and I are still friends, it took two years of distancing each other before we could be friends, but we are.  After some time to heal and grow I definitely believe in keeping doors open and not closing them.  You can put a screen on the door and keep some room for airflow.  You just never know.  I'm not saying that your past relationship will result in a new best friend and I'm sure my case is a rare one, but who says you can't be friends or even civil acquaintances after?

As for me, I have done this with the boyfriend's family.  I think my mom is wondering what to do, but it's not her place to do this, but his.  If she feels the need to contact him for closure I respect that, but in all honesty it should be the other way around.  As for the rest of my family, I don't think it's really necessary to send notes or make phone calls, but it is going to be hard.  I've already had family ask me how to spell his name to add him to wedding invites and guest lits.  At the time I didn't have the heart to say that we were no longer dating.  The words literally wouldn't come out of my mouth.  I'm having more and more of these encounters and I have to learn to just say it and not breakdown about it.  Thank God for my sweet grandmother with short-term memory loss.  You see, she would always ask about him ever since she saw him with me.  Since I've been home this summer she's seen me, but no boy.  Bless her heart for not bringing him up anymore, maybe she got a feeling, or he just left her memory.  Maybe...

I'd like to sincerely thank everyone who has been reading this blog.  No matter what part of the country you're in or what part of the world.  I feel blessed to know what there are others who benefit from what I write.  I enjoy blogging so much, but more than anything I hope to inspire you.  If you've enjoyed reading this please share it with someone else and of course keep reading.  Thank you, danke, gracias, merci, grazie, dank u, спасибі, благодарю, asante, शुक्रिया.

I will leave you all with a song that got in my head when I wrote "whole enchilada" up there.  I used to listen to this all the time when I had Sirius XM Satellite radio in my car.  I sure miss XM radio, it was awesome.  This song would always come out on the Coffeehouse station.  Here ya go...


  1. I love keb mo!! wooo
    Great post sweet laura.

    1. Ive only ever heard that one song. You should send me some more recommendations.