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Advice

After a breakup, is it OK to stay close friends with your ex’s sibling? Our experts disagree.

  • Author: Wayne and Wanda
  • Updated: February 8
  • Published February 8

Dear Wayne and Wanda,

I dated my ex for over a year, and during that time I got to be very close with his family. I don’t have family up here really, so I spent several holidays with them, and spent a ton of time with them out camping last summer. During the course of this, I got to be very close to his sister. She is actually closer in age to me — he’s a little older. It got to a point where, on these family trips, if he headed out to do something with his brother or his parents, I would just hang out with her and have girl time. We have a ton in common and eventually we even started doing stuff just the two of us. This made him happy — he said so himself! He loved how well we got along together.

Well he just broke up with me last month, said he’s met someone else and it wasn’t working with us. I am devastated he broke up with me and also crushed he’s already moved on. I’m sure he started that relationship up while we were still together, which makes me sick. His sister is totally on my side. She’s also sure he cheated — unbeknownst to me until now, apparently he has a history of infidelity and may have even been seeing someone when we met (so says his sister). She has been a huge support for me through this.

I was blindsided last week when he messaged me and basically threatened me to stop hanging out with or even talking to his sister. He says I am using her to get to him. That is so untrue! We became friends in our own right. He said he doesn’t want me hanging out with her or even messaging her. So not only did he take away our relationship, he’s taking her friendship too? I am furious. Do I have to listen to him?

Wanda says:

Have to? No. But should you? Yeah, you probably should. Look, there are lots of potential gal pals surrounding you, and in fact, I’m sure you probably already had several when you started hanging out with this guy. Those are the shoulders you should be leaning on now. In fact, who says they have to be girlfriends? Your original friends whom you’ve known prior to this relationship will help you get through it.

Maintaining a friendship with his sister is dangerous ground. It doesn’t matter if she says she’s on your “side.” At day’s end, you’re an ex of her brother’s, not the first and certainly not the last, and he is her brother forever. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t take a genius to see where her ultimate loyalties lie, regardless of her dearest intentions. And whether on purpose or not, this woman creates a line of sight on your ex-boyfriend’s new life. You don’t need to see that or be connected to it. It will only serve as a hurtful reminder of the pain the break-up caused, prolonging an open emotional wound. It might not be an outright step back, but it’s definitely not supporting steps forward as you try to move on from this relationship — which is most definitely over.

Do you have to cut this woman out of your life entirely? Maybe not. You could stay friends on Instagram, chat when you cross paths. But she’s definitely not the best BFF material right now, and that’s a fact regardless of your ex-boyfriend’s demands.

Wayne says:

Strong friendships are rare, so I support and even encourage you to maintain this one if you can do so under a single, unbreakable condition: it never involves or revolves around the ex/brother. No sneering at him and whoever he’s cuddled up with when you all cross paths. No positioning one another to make him feel uncomfortable. No comparing notes on what he’s been up to when he’s not around. In fact, no talking about or dedicating any energy to him at all. Period.

You dated him for around a year, which probably means you’ve been friends with his sister just as long if not longer. And while you were dating the brother, your conversations and connection with the sister-friend must have involved more than just your respective relationships with him, right? If your bond with his sister is truly stronger and deeper than a singular common distrust — even dislike? — of her blood relative, I say carry on.

But you two BFFs have to verbally commit to one another that you’re shifting gears from brother-ex-hating mode to life-loving girlfriends immediately and unconditionally. Brother-ex doesn’t need to be a factor now or ever again — unless you’re supporting her through a genuine family emergency. And he also doesn’t need to concern himself with you two. Ignore his messages and threats — literally don’t reply. Let her and him sort out their own issues. You two have adventures to explore and a friendship to expand.

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