Share This Page

Ex-etiquette: Spending time with boyfriend's ex is an investment in your relationship

| Sunday, March 24, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Question: I have been dating a man for about a year who is quite good friends with his ex. They shared the children as they grew up, and, now that the kids are adults, the parents have quite a friendly relationship.

My problem is the ex is getting married and has invited my boyfriend, and of course, he has asked me to join him. I'm a little uncomfortable with the invitation. I don't care if my boyfriend goes, I just don't want to get too friendly with his ex. What's good ex-etiquette?

Answer: Since you were invited as your boyfriend's guest, it's quite easy to decline this invitation with an “I already have plans” excuse.

However, I want to alert you to the fact that this is probably only the beginning. If these parents are friendly, you will probably be attending Mother's Day and Father's Day celebrations, and the kids will invite both parents to their homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once they have children, there will be grandbaby birthdays and other holidays — all spent with the ex.

So, although it would be fine ex-etiquette to not attend the wedding, there are two important reasons why you should attend:

First, your boyfriend has asked you to accompany him. You might not realize what a big deal this is. He is going to the wedding of his children's mother and he's going as a couple — with you. His kids will be there. His former relatives will be there. Family friends will be there. He is making a statement by asking you to go with him. If you do not attend at his side, I think you will be missing a huge opportunity.

Take a look at what you are saying, not only to him, but to family and friends, if you stay home.

Second, good for you for not asking him to stay home. He obviously has a relationship with his children's mother and if he has been actively interacting on this level prior to you entering the picture, he should continue to interact with her on the same level now.

Beware of a red flag: If exes are too friendly it will not only make you uncomfortable, but also give his kids a false hope for possible reconciliation.

Of course, he might want to pull back somewhat since you and he are now the primary relationship, but not so far back that he changes the way he celebrates with his children.

Both parents need to be especially conscious of their behavior.

Finally, it's understandable that you might not want to be friendly with the ex, but take care that when you do see her, you do not openly snub her. The last thing you want to do if you want to be close to your boyfriend's children is be unkind to their mother.

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 drjannblackstone@gmail.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.