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Dealing with the ex for better or worse

Posted on Monday, August 8, 2011 in dating, Divorce, Happiness, Honesty, Parenting, Relationships, single dads, single moms

“You won’t believe who I ran into the other day,” Sara said as we stood in line to board the ferry to the Giants game.

“I hope someone worth running into, like Lincecum or whatever actor’s filming somewhere around here.”

“No, someone much more interesting — Todd’s ex.”

Todd’s the OkCupid guy Sara’s still sweet on and vice versa.

“Oooh, what’s she like?”

“Nothing like I thought she’d be like, which, of course, is all based on what Todd told me about her. She’s not at all psycho. She actually seemed like she could kick back a cosmo or two with us, you know? I like her.” 

There are a few weird experiences when you’re divorced — meeting your ex’s new love, having your new love meet your kids, meeting your new love’s kids, and meeting your new love’s ex.

I always listen to a guy talk about his ex with a grain of salt — there’s his version of the truth, her version and then “the truth,” which is likely some mash-up of his truth and hers.

Of course, some exes truly are total nightmares and they can ruin a budding love affair, as Sara discovered when she fell in love with Jeff many months ago but ended it because she couldn’t imagine a future with Jeff and his psycho ex. What happens, though, if you kind of like his ex and he still feels negatively toward her; can you be a positive thing in their relationship — especially if kids are involved.

And at what point do you ask to meet the new love — if you even should ask, that is. If you know your ex has a serious squeeze, one who’s spending time with your kids and developing a relationship with them, do you have a right to ask to meet her? Do you hang around places you know you might accidentally on purpose bump into her, or do you just let it go? And, do you make sure your ex meets you new sweetie?

None of these are questions we even think off when we’re divorcing — there are bigger issues then, right? Funny, but then they start to play a role in our new life, and now we’re forced to think about them whether we want to or not.

I’m not saying it’s better to stay married, but it sure can be less complicated!

  • What has been your experience with either past or present exes?
  • What has been your new love’s — past or present — of your ex?
  • Do you believe you should meet your ex’s new love if it looks serious and you have kids?


Photos © Angelika Bentin –


Bring on the comments

  1. T
    Twitter: tsquest

    Ok, this post has perfect timing. I wrote a week or so ago about dealing with this very topic. My ex is seemingly serious about this girl who’s been on again off again with him for a few years. I’ve not taken it too seriously until very recently, he’s been less communicative with me about kid exchanges and less responsive with me when I need to talk to him about said exchanges. It’s been getting on my last nerve.

    Then last night, I dropped off my children as his home and she was there. She acted as if I didn’t even exist when I was standing right in front of her. He didn’t even acknowledge me at all.

    I’ve prided both of us on our great communication and co-parenting. We’ve always told everyone that we still love and respect each other. Perhaps she has a problem with me? So what has he told her?

    I’d asked him last week if she and I could meet & talk since she’s getting really involved with my daughters. I think it’s important to get to know her. He never responded. And now this?

    So, as uncomfortable and awkward as it feels, I have to be the grown up here and arrange a meeting between she & I… with him or without him. I’ll be damned if a woman is going to come into my children’s lives and act like I don’t exist. We’re supposed to be doing this together, aren’t we?

    Would love to know your thoughts. (Sorry for the long comment.)

  2. Jim
    Twitter: mobilene

    I knew my ex’s previous ex and had a cordial relationship with him. It was all about his son, my stepson, who needed the stability that cordial relationship allowed.

    I’m not sure how I’m going to handle this, though, when I finally get serious with someone and she starts to be a part of my sons’ lives. My ex is still volatile and angry, even this many years later. I remember how poorly she reacted to her ex’s girlfriends. I want to avoid all drama.

  3. Kat Wilder says:

    Nothing's #weirder than meeting your new #love's #ex, except maybe meeting you ex's new love!

  4. Kat Wilder says:

    T — Wow, I can’t believe how oblivious he, and she, are acting. No matter what he’s told her about you, we should never form opinions about another person until until we’ve met him or her — and even then we can change opinions. If she’s going to be an important part f your daughters’ life, she should make an effort to be cordial if not warm and fuzzy. You are right to try to arrange to meet her, although that may not work either. Whatever happens, don’t put your girls in the middle; you can ask them “Did you have a fun time when you, Daddy and XXX went to … ?” and listen carefully to how they talk about their experiences with her. I know the Mama Bear will come out if you hear anything amiss. What matters more that her relationship with you is, how is she treating your girls? Good luck, hon.

    Jim — Tough one. You may have to find yourself in the role of peacemaker — or referee! Luckily, you don’t have to think about that quite yet; maybe she’ll change my then (fingers crossed, wishes on pennies, etc., etc.)

  5. brian says:

    i use to assume when meeting a divorced woman and beginning dating that the reason for the failure of her marriage was obviously that of her first husband since obviously she was fun to be with and we has great times together

    came to realize that people are on their best behavior at the beginning of a realtionship and only after spending time together do you begin the see the real person
    and realize that in many most cases of breakups its a 50-50 proposition

  6. ChopperPapa
    Twitter: chopperpapa

    A friend of mine who got divorced one year ago calls me in a tirade. It seems his ex wife, who they have 2 children together with, is getting remarried to a man 11 years her junior. It seems they were ‘friends’ before the divorce, so we all know what that means.

    Anyway, he has yet to meet the fiance. Though he has met his kids. My first advice was to meet her and her soon to be hubby as soon as possible.

    I gave him 3 reasons why:

    1. to say that you have met him to his kids.
    2. to get some intel about him in a non threatening way.
    3. to set expectations with both of them and establish boundaries.

    While I have known my ex’s new husband for many years, our relationship is virtually nil. I haven’t talked a paragraph to him in 6 years as I deal with her exclusively. Fortunately he has abided by the boundaries with no issues.

    Personally, the moment the new love starts interacting with the kids is when the meeting should take place, if not before.