our everyday life

How to Deal With My Fiance's Ex

by Maura Banar, studioD

Relationships tend not to be simple, no matter how friendly exes are to one another. If you're engaged to someone who is still on good terms with their ex, it's likely that you will interact with that ex at some point. This can be one of the most awkward situations endured, yet you need to maintain diplomacy and a smile in order to keep the peace. Dealing with your fiance's ex however does not mean allowing them to cross clearly defined boundaries for behavior. Establishing these lines is a non-confrontational way to interact, but in a way that doesn't cross the lines of your comfort zone.

Identify your feelings regarding your fiance, his ex and your interactions with her. Prior to addressing any problems, it's important to name what you are feeling, explains the University of Illinois in their online publication "Experiencing and Expressing Emotions." Pay attention to how you feel and your nonverbal cues when you are in the presence of your fiance's ex. You may not recognize that your body language is expressing discomfort or anger, because you unconsciously fold your arms or wear a scowl on your face. Keep in mind that feelings, even the negative ones, aren't necessarily bad and may be rooted in genuine problems that can be addressed with your fiance and his ex.

Express your feelings about your fiance's ex to your fiance. Avoid assuming that your fiance is aware of your discomfort when dealing with his ex. Approach your fiance without confrontation and without making inferences or judging his behavior or that of his ex. Use "I" statements in expressing your feelings, stating that "I feel uncomfortable when your ex is invited to our family gatherings." Whether your fiance's ex has ulterior motives is relevant, but is also not something you can control. Instead of attempting to control the situation, take the first step by clearly explaining to your fiance why you tend to be less talkative at family gatherings.

Consider your options for resolving the problem or at least making it easier to deal with your fiance's ex. Relationships are as unique as the individuals involved in them and the solution to your discomfort isn't simply black and white. Think about what you genuinely feel about dealing with your fiance's ex and why you believe you face that impasse when you interact. You have the right and the ability to define the nature of your interactions with your fiance's ex. This includes being clear about behaviors that you have identified as inappropriate and those that make you feel downright uncomfortable. Creating and enforcing boundaries by being specific about where and when you will interact with your fiance's ex provides your fiance with your line of comfort.

Elicit the support of friends and family in dealing with your fiance's ex. Social support can be an invaluable source of strength. Avoid making your social supports a part of a confrontational effort against your fiance's ex, which can have the opposite from your intended result. Instead, communicate your feelings to your friends and family about your dilemma. Certain individuals may provide a refreshing perspective that can allay your fears or give you unique solutions. At the very least, social supports can reduce your stress and feelings of insecurity at times when your emotions are heightened.

About the Author

Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images