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How to Tell An Ex-Spouse You're Dating

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

If you and your ex-spouse share children, you will always be connected and have a need to cordially share information. When you begin dating, your ex wants to make certain that anyone who has contact with the children you and he share is a safe person for the kids. If your ex was holding out hope that you might reconcile, he also wants to know when you are dating. If you don’t tell your ex, he could learn about it from your kids, family, friends, or from your social media page. Your relationship will probably have fewer bumps if he learns it directly from you.

Send an email or text to your ex and ask to schedule a time for the two of you to chat. If you can communicate comfortably face-to-face, that could be over lunch while the kids are at school or other opportunity when the kids are otherwise occupied. If you don’t communicate well, limit the communication to email or text or insist that you meet in a public place where things are less likely to get out of hand. Tell your ex before the kids know, suggests Laura Campbell in a “Huffington Post” article, “It’s Not Communication, It's ‘Ex-Management,’" otherwise the kids might deliver the news for you in a less than ideal fashion.

Explain to your ex that you are dating and provide some details about the person you are seeing, such as how long you have been seeing her, where you met her, if she has children and her name. If the kids haven’t met her, let your ex know that as well so she won’t assume that the relationship has gone further than it has. Ask your ex if she has suggestions about guidelines such as not including the new girlfriend in family activities, no sleepovers while the kids are there and limited public displays of affection. Focus the conversation how to make things easier on the kids adjusting than about the girlfriend, suggests Help Guide. Be considerate and respectful so that your interaction remains calm and cooperative.

Don’t flaunt your new date, suggests Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author, in a “Psychology Today” article on communication tips with your ex. Work at maintaining appropriate boundaries and being friendly as much as possible. If your ex annoys you during the conversation, remind yourself that the goal is cooperation and positive communication. You can also remember that your ex has some wonderful characteristics that once caused you to love each other.

Thank your ex for his time and part company as friendly as possible. Don’t expect your ex to wish you and your new love all the best, although that might happen. Keep your end of the bargain with the rules you agreed on. Agree to revisit the subject if the relationship becomes more serious and you are ready to introduce this person to your kids.

Warning

  • If your ex has been abusive in the past, deliver the news in a safe place or through written communication.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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