Etiquette School is in session! > "Have you tried the bean dip?"

Bean dipping a break-up?

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Background: Cousin and BF were together since she was 19 or 20, which was for about 6 years. She broke up with him after realizing that their relationship wasn't headed in the same direction, among other things (e.g. she wanted to get married eventually and he didn't). She confessed that she had been depress for the last year with him and he replied that he had been discontent for the last two years with her. She moved out immediately afterward and is currently living in our guestroom to save up money for her own place.

We both work 8-to-5 jobs, so we're usually home at the same time, especially since DH and I are homebodies during the weekday. Whenever I talk to Cousin, she always brings up ex-BF. For example, I mentioned there was a lot of bacon in the fridge that was given to me by MIL, so she should help herself. She replied with a story about how she can't eat bacon on its own and ex-BF loves bacon because this one time she made him and his best friend turkey sandwiches with bacon and so on... We talked about what our families were doing for Thanksgiving, because we usually get our families together. Her response included letting me know that she texted ex-BF about what his plans were for Thanksgiving; he's going with his mom to her cousin's house, whom Cousin has only met once but knows ex-BF won't have a good time.

As of right now, I just smile and nod, which is followed by awkward silence. I know breakups are hard, especially after being with someone for almost six years, but I feel insensitive bean dipping. However, I don't want to encourage her to talk about her ex-BF and their 'fond' memories together if she is suppose to work on being independent from him.

How much time has passed since the breakup?  If it hasn't been all that long, I'm thinking that you are being a bit unfeeling here.

Your cousin is grieving the loss of someone she's cared about for 6 years and also the loss of the life she thought they'd have together.  Some people can't just flick a switch and shut those feelings away.  They need time to think it over, talk about it, and let it go.  Your cousin is bringing things up to you to get it off her chest and you are pretty much just shutting her down, hence the awkward silence. 

They have been broken up for a couple of weeks.

My response of awkward silence isn't to intentionally "shut her down," but I honestly don't know what to say. I mean, when she starts talking about how she used to do their laundry on Sundays or how ex-BF likes this show too, what do I say? I'm not mean about it; I don't tell her that she needs to stop talking about him. Like I stated, I feel insensitive about bean dipping, but I don't know how to respond when she does start talking about him randomly.

Only a couple of weeks out of a breakup of a six year relationship.... I'm not surprised that he's still a constant reference point for her.  I get the sense that you think it would be healthier for her to just purge all of this and move on, but that's not always (maybe not ever, but I don't want to go that far) the best way.  How I'd respond is to just talk to her about how she's feeling about him, herself, the breakup, the new stage of her life she's entering.  She's probably pretty scared and adrift and could use someone caring to talk to.

Oh, she has all my sympathies.  Several years ago, my s/o broke up with me, with no warning, after 8 years.  I was beyond devastated - I was nearly prostrate with grief.

I didn't know how to be "me" again.  We'd been "us" for so long that every sentence, every thought, every waking moment was "John and I.... oops, there is no John anymore" and the tears would start again.  My friends and family didn't know what to do with me either.  I didn't know what to do with me!  I had to learn to be single again.

Be gentle with her.  Tell her you understand she misses him and its hard to let go of him and the memories and history together.  I missed being touched.  Give her a hug now and then.  Don't berate him to her - that just adds to her pain.  Let her talk about him.  Eventually, she will get him out of her head.


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