Dating as a mom can sometimes be difficult, since it requires that you balance your love life with your parental life. When you choose to date someone, that occasionally means putting up with his annoying friends and nosy family, but dealing with drama caused by a crazy ex may be even more than you bargained for. Setting firm boundaries with your boyfriend's ex and maintaining consistent responses when dealing with her may help to calm the situation between the two of you.
Identifying With His Ex
While it's easy to write off your boyfriend's ex as crazy, taking an objective look at her situation and former relationship with your boyfriend may shed some light on why she comes across as crazy. Examine the history of your boyfriend and his ex as well. Your boyfriend's ex may only seem crazy due to an emotional response caused by their past. If, for example, this is only one of a string of breakups in an on again, off again relationship, than his ex's erratic behavior may be explained by the emotional turmoil she is experiencing by having him move on so soon after their breakup. Although an explanation of her situation does not excuse her behavior, putting yourself in her shoes may help when approaching your boyfriend's ex in the future.
Unless they share custody of children, the contact between your boyfriend and his ex should be minimal. You and your boyfriend should identify appropriate and inappropriate behaviors, including how to act when you encounter his ex in public, and how to handle inappropriate phone calls or texts. While you cannot control how your boyfriend's ex acts, you can set boundaries on your behavior and decide if or how to respond to her actions.
Approaching His Ex
If you decide to approach your boyfriend's ex about her behavior, keep a few simple rules in mind. You know that her behavior can be erratic and abrasive, and while you cannot control her behavior, you can control yours. Don't add to an already unfriendly situation by reacting to her perceived hostilities. Choose your words very carefully and think before you speak to avoid coming off as hostile. Maintain a calm tone of voice and avoid accusatory or offensive language to prevent exacerbating the situation. By showing your boyfriend's ex respect, she may return that respect in future interactions with you.
Ask Her to Stop
Although it may seem like common sense, your boyfriend's ex may just need to be asked to back off. If you believe that the behavior of your boyfriend's ex can be identified as harassment, you can also threaten to contact the local authorities to press charges against any potentially violent or harassing behaviors. After all, not only do you have to worry about your personal safety, but that of your children as well.
Providing consistent responses to your boyfriend's ex may curb some of her more erratic behavior. Even if your response to her actions is to simply not respond at all, receiving the same message each time that she reaches out to you or your boyfriend will solidify that, despite her best efforts, you and your boyfriend are a united front that will not budge.
Knowing When to Walk Away
Despite the feelings that you share for your boyfriend, dating as a mom carries with it other obligations besides your personal happiness. If your boyfriend and his ex have a torrid history of dating off and on, the reality of the situation is that he may choose to be with her again, over you. If his ex's behaviors are potentially harmful or threatening, then walking away from the relationship may be the safest move to make in regard to the safety and well-being of your children. If you start to feel uncomfortable about the relationship your boyfriend still has with his ex, or have simply had enough of her causing drama in your life, know your limits and when enough is enough.
- American Psychological Association: Mixing Oil and Water
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: Perceived Relational Stability in On-Again/Off-Again Relationships
- Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: Charting Changes in Commitment: Trajectories of On-Again/Off-Again Relationships
- Association for Psychological Science: Person Perception and Personality Pathology
Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.
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