Q: I have recently started dating a man who has two children. Things are getting serious and there’s potential for a future together, which makes me think that as much as I hate the idea of communicating with my ex’s girlfriend who was fooling around with him when we were together, it is probably best for my son. So, since I started dating my guy I can see that if my ex’s girlfriend is going to continue to be in my son’s life, we need to be able to coordinate and communicate. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
A: You are incredibly understanding and obviously putting your child first if you are considering communicating with your ex’s girlfriend who was having an affair with him while you were together. This also tells me that you are over it, because it’s rare to have the mindset you describe unless you have moved on. Good for you.
You haven’t said that this woman lives with your ex, but since you’re considering consulting her, I take it that’s the situation and you and his father share custody. If she’s someone who is just around and not living with your ex, getting along with her works for the occasional situations you may interact, but coordinating your child’s schedule is up to you and his father.
That said, be kind to yourself. Don’t go too fast in the hey-let’s-all-be-pals department. It’s easier to forgive an ex for fooling around when you have someone else, too, but if your new relationship falls apart, don’t be surprised if jealousy and anger rear their ugly little heads again. If that is the case, remember the rules of good ex-etiquette, particularly, good ex-etiquette rule No. 1, “Put the children first” and rule No. 5, “Don’t’ be spiteful” and No. 6, “Don’t hold grudges.”
That means take baby steps. The concept of getting along with your ex’s new partner is not new. I have been talking about that strategy for 20 years, but it’s tough to do even when the new person had nothing to do with the breakup. Add the betrayal aspect and it becomes even harder. But, the rewards for your child are immeasurable. You do it for the children.
Best advice I can give you for getting along with your ex’s new partner is this: “Don’t compare on any level.” Don’t spend any time obsessing that she’s younger, older, prettier, thinner, better in bed, or your child may love her more. The truth is, if she’s in your child’s life you want her to love him because she will then put her best foot forward and truly consider the best interest of your child. The rest of it is a waste of time, particularly the fact that your child may like her best. Kids know who their parents are. You are mommy. You always will be. Relax in that. The goal is to offer him as much love and understanding as possible and keep him out of the middle of the parent drama.
For more info on this subject, hit www.bonusfamilies.com. Keyword: counterpartner.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.