Should Your Man Be Super Tight with His Ex?

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You meet a great man, and he ticks all the boxes on your list – he’s the right height, the right shape, smart, handsome, well dressed, well traveled and then some – anything you’ve envisioned. And — he has an ex (wife, girlfriend, fling, or whatever) with whom he’s had children.

There. Let’s say this part wasn’t exactly on your list. (Or maybe subconsciously it was, and so the situation manifested.)

Come to find out, and in my experience, upfront men will share this with you very early on – he’s good friends with this other woman. What now?

Well, it depends, right?

It’s rare that I cross-reference blogs here, but I should do it more often.

I was over on Jana Leigh’s blog a few nights ago, reading this post where she re-posted a question initially from a woman who wrote in to Steve Harvey’s morning show. Here’s the question (in part):

I have been dating my boyfriend for 4 months now and everything seemed to be going great. I’m 32 and he is 46. Most recently after one of our trips 1 month ago I noticed his ex-wife started to contact him more, “always something about the kids” Background- They were married 12 years and divorced now about 6 yrs. They have 2 children together, 22 and almost 17. I don’t have a problem with the communication because they are parents but why do they need to talk nearly every day. His kids are clearly old enough to reach out to their father if they need him. I too am divorced but I don’t talk to my ex-husband. If I have to talk to him, it is mostly through text or I am handing the phone to my child. I don’t need to speak to him constantly nor do I want to because my child is old enough to do that. He is 12. This is really making me uncomfortable but each time I try to say something it starts a huge argument. He made the statement that “if I want to be back with my ex-wife trust me I can”; I have been distant since then because I have been hurt in the past and that made my guards go up.

I don’t want to give up on a man who I can see a future with but I feel like my 4 months with him can’t compete with their history and I rather give up than to have my heartbroken again.
What should I do?

Please visit her blog for the full post…

A host of commenters chimed in, including Jana… Some said this woman was tripping over nothing; some felt her feelings were valid.

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I went decades without dating men with children, because I just could not be bothered. At all. I wanted to avoid any drama associated with “another woman” and not have to see or hear about my dude’s interactions with someone he made a baby with. Then I met this guy with whom I had an obvious, recognizable connection that predated our meeting for a first date. (No, I hadn’t met him in person before.) I decided then and there that I wanted to love him, regardless. In short, I was going to try and deal. It helped that someone had patience with me and my own children (and some drama). The patience of Job.

My response to the readers question is different than it would have been a year ago, or even a few weeks ago. I did touch on co-parenting in this piece back in December 2015 though.

My thoughts:

We all have insecurities. And the relationship with his ex is bringing out hers. But if that relationship is important to him, and he’s still nurturing it for whatever reason, the girlfriend can either leave, or put up with it, or try to control his behavior, which won’t work. And if he gives in to the pressure to stop talking to the ex, he will resent the girlfriend’s controlling behavior. To get to the root of the issue, in this relationship or the next (when her insecurities come up again) she needs to dig deep and deal with her own issues of mistrust, because those were there long before this relationship. Only way to break the pattern. I never dated men with children for this reason. The thought of “my man” having to interact with a woman he is permanently bonded to via children in common was displeasing. And it can still be uneasy, but I’m of the view now that relationships are eternal – especially if they created children together. They have a bond that will span lifetimes. Unless he’s being inappropriate and or disrespectful, you have to deal. Or not. Especially if you knew early on that they called themselves “friends.”

At 20 or 25, I couldn’t deal with this type of situation. I was socialized to violence and drama, and came to almost expect it, I admit. I had a belief, or fear, that men would roam, and always be interested in someone else. Based on experience. I wasn’t enough. Clearly that was a belief that didn’t serve me or my partners.

And sometimes it’s not insecurity at all. It’s knowing what you will and will not accept in a relationship. Plenty of folks wont even consider dating someone with children. I understand it. Yes, I do. All a matter of preference. I’ve also heard men say they would only make an exception if the child’s father was completely out of the picture.

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Now – what do you think? Was the woman with the question just imagining things? Or do you think there was cause for concern. Have you dated or married a partner who had children from a previous relationship? What tips would you share for navigating such a situation?



Categories: Advice

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32 replies

  1. I think that parents need to remain in contact after a divorce, but I do see issues with an ex who calls frequently to discuss the children, none of which are toddlers. I think that both ex’s need to recognize the impact of their current relationship with each other on the current significant others. To me, it’s a huge sign of disrespect, and perhaps even more, to the current relationships.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I certainly agree. If they call themselves “friends,” this can happen though. I’ve questioned less! Lol. This is why some folks avoid dating people with children altogether. Because then dealing with boundaries on this is a non-issue. Some people co-parent in a way that has them getting together with their teen and adult children with regularity. You either accept it at the outset, or choose another partner rather than waging a battle and interrupting their “relationship.”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great topic. I think the woman questioning things has valid concerns. I have experienced this with my husband and his ex (they never married), but they have a child together. It is one thing to communicate because you have a child together, but it is something else to talk everyday as mentioned in the woman’s situation. I find that disrespectful. As for my experience, it came out that my husband’s ex wanted him back and was trying to ruin our marriage. They weren’t talking daily, but she was being messy. Once that was revealed communication changed. The ex spoke directly with their child, who was a teen at the time. Never had anymore issues after that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for chiming in. You have an admirable husband! I’m over trying to take a mature stance, but admittedly the question of whether or not the ex wants your partner back is kind of normal (to me – but I’ve been told that’s crazy!). I posed the question this way: “do you have emotional ties?” I don’t know if anyone would answer “yes” though. Best wishes.

      Like

      • I had never experienced anything like that before, and til this day, it is still the worst experience I’ve ever had. It happened almost 10 years ago. I didn’t think she would go to the lengths she did. To me, it should have just been about us all co-parenting and what was best for my step-daughter. It was definitely an eye opener. I can see how you say the ex wanting them back is normal. As for tips, my number 1 tip is for the couple to be on the same page and have a united front.

        A side note: I go by WaterLove when I post on blogs, so not sure why I came up as artwork100. Maybe I have to check my wordpress account.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I bet this situation is common in Relationships where step children are involved. Sadly. Glad you were able to work through it and maintain your love and marriage. I went to the “artwork” blog and didn’t see any posts. No worries.

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  3. I’ve always said that men and women just can’t be friends. One person always wants more than friendship. I don’t see any reason why ex’s should be in contact everyday. That doesn’t make much sense. Something is off about this situation. They get into arguments when she mentioned the ex wife and he admitted that he can still be with his ex if he wanted. I’m going to say he is low key still messing with his ex wife. My advice for her would be to just move on from this guy. If she wants to try to make it work then she needs to demand a meeting with the ex wife and current boyfriend. This way she can see for herself that he is still messing with his ex. In a real relationship, a man is not jeopardizing what he currently has for an ex wife or any other woman for that matter. He would set rules with his ex wife on how she needs to interact with his current girl. Clearly that hasn’t happened. Move on girl. You’re 32, you can still catch.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lol. You have me dying laughing over here. Yall make me feel like I was too nice in my response. Knowing I would be tripping if dude was on the phone with her every damn day. LOL. You can only be but so much Zen. I think his comments were insensitive. People can be hesitant to give up the “familiar” no matter who or what is in front of them. Good advice.

      Liked by 2 people

      • He knows at the end of the day if she leaves he will still have his ex wife. Right now he gets to have two women without actually committing to any of them. Once you deal with ex drama you already know the deal. I think she knows this deep down but she’s just not willing to accept it. I want to see what this girl looks like. Either she’s not on top of her game or she’s just game goofy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Haha. It’s hard to decipher sometimes because we tend to want outside advice versus following what we already “feel” and intuit. I’ve never dealt with ex drama because men I’ve dated didn’t have children before, but those “friendships” can be concerning. On the other hand, if I have no indication that something funky is going on, and a man has a friendly relationship with his kids’ mother, I have to accept it or go. The dynamic was established before me.

          Liked by 1 person

        • “He knows at the end of the day…he will still have his ex wife.” Powerful statement.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Ok. Right off the bat, no. Why would he/she need to speak with their ex everyday? I understand that they have children together and communication is a must, but that’s acting like they still have feelings for each other. I understand how the person would feel being the fact I was in that situation. I feel that it’s disrespecting the current relationship. Bottom line is, to be super tight with your ex is wrong. The only person you are to be super tight with is your significant other or your spouse.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m divorced and although we are not at a friend’s stage, we need to interact for our son. I wished though that my ex-husband and I could have actually been friends. That we could have seen our relationship as a chapter in our books that produced our son, but that hasn’t happened. I wouldn’t mind if my man was cool with his child’s mother. I’ve realized that if that is my issue then I shouldn’t date a man with kids because resentment breeds when you try to control people. However, if the ex was disrespectful to our relationship then I would expect him to handle it or I would be gone.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree. It’s hard when you’re selfish! And yes, just bypass people with kids altogether if you can’t handle it (I did!). Mature me tries to realize that people have known and loved my man before me, and some are still in his network, via children or otherwise. I can’t tell him who has value and who doesn’t. He wouldn’t listen anyway. Thankfully. And he would never try to dictate that for me. I like having my way. But a man who doesn’t give that to me (when I’m being unreasonable) is my best co-creator). I’m not friends with my kids’ father. Friends are people who show up. People you can trust. I don’t wish that we could be friends either. I digress!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL. I wished that we could have been friends because we never did. We went from dating to engaged and married within 18 months. I had hoped that maybe we could be friends, but he’s done so much shit to hurt me that I don’t know if that is possible. Hopefully years will allow us to heal and move forward and just be the best co-parents possible. But, I am inviting him to my son’s birthday party which is a big deal for me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wow. That happened quickly! Must have felt like an amazing whirlwind. It’s possible to repair the relationship to the extent you want and move forward. Hope the party is nice!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I know right? I would totally not recommend it to someone. But, I was young. We didn’t know anything about being married. LOL, I will let you know.

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            • I know someone who proposed to his wife after a month. He said he knew they had a purpose together. They got married right away and 14 or 15 years later, they are still together in what looks like a good partnership. It can work. He also believes that it could have been past life recognition. So there’s different levels to knowing someone. I asked him for his best advice on relationships and it was something in the vain of allowing each other the space to grow and evolve. That’s true at any age, but most of have no clue when we are in our 20s.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. When many couples make the final decision to divorce, they think the process will be amicable and life will go on. Then divorce attorneys get involved and the slings and arrows begin to fly. Some survive the turmoil and others do not, harboring anger and resentment that can last a lifetime. The important lesson in divorce (especially when children are involved) is to show mutual respect for each other and never talk bad about the other person. Equally important is the need to let go and give the ex their space. Yes, be involved with decisions regarding children, but stay away regarding relationships.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for chiming in. Yup, attorneys can certainly fan the flames to do more damage than good to an already strained relationship. I agree about showing mutual respect and not bad mouthing. I did that myself, knowing that when children get older, they are going to form their own opinions about “the other parent.” No need to hinder their perspective. And yes, some people insist on maintaining friendship. As the new person, you can either deal. Or not. But trying to control others never work. Wow, if only I practiced this decades ago! Would have saved myself some craziness.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, for the record her being insecure will only make him run away. Like you said , she need to deal with her own issues. If the children are old enough to make their own choices, it shouldn’t be an issue. She just need to tell him how she feel about it. Wait for his response and if she don’t like the answer he give…. She need to lay it all on the table. Be honest.

    I don’t see a reason for him to talk to his ex everyday. I think I would have a problem with that. If the kids are healthy and able, then he can discuss whatever with them.

    No need to sit and worry about what he might do. It will not be the end of the world if he does decide to go back to his wife.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very well said on all points. It’s a moot point to try to control your mate. Doesn’t work out in the end because oftentimes they’ll find more things to do and hide just to feel in control of their own lives – as they should be! And nope, life would go on.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I found both the initial post with its question, your analysis and the comments of some of the people here very interesting. Personally I have realised that as a mother myself it is a bad idea to date a man who does not have children (especially at an advanced age) because chances are he will not understand my relationship with my kids and might be jealous or he will simply be too wrapped up in his own self to be caring towards my own children and might even be cold or flippant with them – which mine would not appreciate being adolescents. A man with his own children has better chances of understanding the interactions between a woman and her children and respecting/supporting them or helping with them.

    As for the lady, I think what she might be picking up is the body language that could show he is still interested in his ex-wife. In fact the way he speaks to her about it is very confusing. He does not say I have no interest in being with her and choose you over her but rather if I wanted to be with her I could which could be a slight play on I could if I wanted to but my superior will makes me spurn the actual physical relationship with her. Then there is also the fact that he is dating someone 14 years younger. It begs the question of why he divorced his wife in the first place (did he like younger women, was his ex-wife too bland after a certain number of years, etc).

    Personally I find it normal for a man to speak with his ex (especially if they are friends) regarding their children. The girlfriend, rather than getting upset would normally ask what is the matter with the children. She would have had a better notion of whether this was all uncalled for and therefore a reason for concern over his relationship with his ex or whether there was really something that could be a serious matter. Whatever their objective age, parents always see their children in a subjective age light and this depends on the children’s capacity to manage their lives and the kind of trouble they can get into. Older children have a propensity of getting into more serious trouble. As for the man getting in touch with his children himself to ask about the matter, it might be that he never had such a great relationship with them (perhaps during the divorce things were bitter and the mother cut him off, or perhaps he was never a caring dad before and wants to catch up later on) and therefore relies on his ex-wife to be able to manage situations.

    I think the woman should have resolved within herself her own issues of security and then been able to assess whether the man was being unreasonably close to his ex-wife or whether there was always a good reason for them to talk. It is one thing not mistrusting and not being paranoid and another when someone is disrespecting you and not making sure that you feel desired and loved.

    Like

    • Hi! Thanks for joining in the conversation. A lot of people related first hand to the topic, which I didn’t really foresee.

      You make great points that haven’t been brought up. Regarding dating men without children, I did that! I have three, and he had none. And once my kids became teens, although he helped a lot with chauffering them around and things like that, they complained about him being distant and disengaged. I’m sure every man wouldn’t behave that way, but he did. I don’t know if it had something to do with his upbringing or what. We’ve been apart for 5 years now and he calls me ever so often and asks about them. He cares. Anyway… I finally got involved with someone with children and he IS very supportive and always interested in what mine are up to. It’s just a different conversation because we can relate on that level. (Well, I can’t write too much about that!)

      As far as the woman who is the subject of the post, she might be intuiting something, especially with his lackadaisical response. Being younger could be a source of insecurity (been there. Same guy I mentioned who didn’t have children) and then him talking to the ex daily? That might send me off my rocker too. Unless the child is in crisis… Friends is one thing (and I’m just accepting this), but best buddies is another.

      I think the woman is out of her league with him (there’s only so much soothing he can do) and the way to resolve it is to become stronger, happier, and more solid with herself. Otherwise the insecurity and mistrust will follow her to the next relationship whether or not her new partner has children.

      Liked by 1 person

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