Why I Won’t Be Friends with My Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend

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The trend toward joint custody, reasonable visitation, and more peaceful co-parenting has been an overall positive one for divorced and blended families. However, current culture tells us that you need to be best friends with your ex — and his new partner — or you’re bitter and selfish, can’t let go, or aren’t putting the children first. If you’re able to be more than civil co-parents with your ex and consider his girlfriend your new BFF, my hat is off to you. However, this is not the gold standard of a healthy situation for everyone, and we need to quit acting like it is.

While I’m sure there really are people out there who got divorced because they simply “drifted apart” or had “very little in common,” I don’t know any of them. I do know quite a few people, however, who use these phrases because they don’t want to talk about the lying, addiction problems, cheating, or domestic violence. Nobody gets married saying, “Let’s do this for a few years, have some kids, and get a divorce.” Most couples go through hell — often years of it — before finally ending the relationship. And then we expect them to put all that aside and embrace both the ex and the new partner as friends. 

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The most important thing I learned from my marriage and divorce was that establishing and enforcing boundaries is critical to protecting your own emotional health. One of my boundaries is that I won’t be friends with any of my ex-husband’s new girlfriends. It’s not personal. I’ve never really even gotten to know any of them other than a wave at a custody exchange or a quick greeting at a school function. It has very little to do with them and everything to do with him.

My ex-husband is not someone I’d choose to have in my life to any degree if we didn’t have children together. We got married way too young and way too soon, and the relationship was a complete disaster for both of us. To ensure my own life keeps running as smoothly as possible, I don’t deal with him, or anyone in his life, more than I absolutely must. It may not be fair to the girlfriend, and I freely acknowledge that, but that’s the way it is.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with blocking your ex’s partner on Facebook or refusing to meet up for coffee, but be careful. When it comes to co-parenting, civility and respect are the name of the game. If you’re meeting the new girlfriend, she’s clearly important to your ex and is likely going to be around your children if she’s not already. She also may not have much experience interacting with an ex-spouse, so try to cut her some slack. Make your boundaries clear and then stick to them. Maybe you’re fine with sitting next to her at the children’s school events, but connecting on social media is a no-no.

Whatever you decide, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for refusing to allow toxic people into your life. An emotionally healthy and stable parent is the best gift you can give your children.

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Why I Won’t Be Friends with My Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend

Katelynne has been trying to get the hang of this raising kids thing since 2007 but spends most of her time wondering who stole her copy of Parenting 101. When she’s not playing referee for her two children or writing all the words, she fantasizes about a full night’s sleep, uninterrupted showers, and triple venti caramel macchiatos with coconut milk. ... More

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19 comments

  1. Mwhitney85 says:

    “We got married way too young and way too soon” I despise when people say that line as if it is a legitimate excuse for divorce. My husband and I got married very young and after only 5 months, and we’ve been happily married for 10 years. There are arranged marriages that are happy and long-lasting. Marriage is about mutual respect, growth, and love. One’s age of marriage or length known will not dictate whether or not a marriage will last.

    Also, being civil with your ex’s significant other is important if you have children with your ex-husband. It will put stress on your children if you are not at least civil.

  2. Jackie says:

    I’m never going to be friends with my ex or his girlfriend. My ex was verbally and financially abusive. You cannot be friends with a toxic person. The people saying you need to be besties with the ex and his girlfriend need to get a clue.

  3. Jennifer says:

    I’m not sure who said you had to be BFF’s, but yes, you need to be civil. The new girlfriend or boyfriend is going to have a part in raising your children. My ex and I are civil, but I divorced him for a reason. He did not divorce our children and I will always foster a relationship for them. I have no problems with the new girlfriend because she is a part of housing, feeding, entertaining, and otherwise taking care of my children. The last thing I want is more drama and as long as she treats me and my children with respect, I will do the same. It is simply what is best for our kids. We put them in the situation and we need to be the example on how to adult.

  4. Hope says:

    I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with her point of view. I’m an ex-wife, and I chose to be. Every situation of separation between parents is a little different, and there is no one solution fits all here. Some may be bitter, others happy to be rid of their ex. Whatever the case may be, I think it’s important to respect boundaries and act like mature, responsible adults and set a good example for the kids regardless of how you feel about the other. Nobody is perfect, but at least try to have a level head and not be entirely focused on your hatred or spite for one another. That is a very childish thing to do. Always move forward and try to do better for you and your kids, and things just might work out for ya. Just my two cents.

  5. Danielle says:

    I have mixed feelings about this article completely because I can sympathize with being the new wife and going through the abusiveness of the ex girlfriend. I have been with my husband for right at 5 years and since his and his ex’s daughter was 8 months old. My husband was with his ex basically long enough for them to get pregnant unplanned and then they survived through the pregnancy. Once their daughter was born his ex’s true colors really started to show as well as her instability for being in a healthy relationship or raising their child. My husband realized that it was healthier for their small baby and him at that time to separate from her and start providing a more stable environment for his daughter. He has joint custody of his daughter and we love being able to have her with us every other week, but it has been extremely challenging because of a bitter and negative ex. His ex girlfriend has always hated me and the fact that he married me and not her. This was obvious to the point even the judge at our custody hearing 4 years ago told her she needed to accept that he had moved on and he advised she do the same. We try to be as civil as possible with her but most of the time she makes it very difficult because her entire outlook is that I am this horrible person and I am a huge problem. Advice to ex’s I would give is that most of us have been a heartvl broken ex at some point and we all were sad and angry. Those are normal phases to go through, but they are just that phases. We can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in them and then blame or push our misery onto the new partner in our ex’s lives. I have two children from a previous relationship so I know this. I also know that never getting over something or continuing the negativity in these situations is not healthy for the children involved at all. It’s our job to get past things and not expose our kids to childesh behavior. As the new wife and probably most other’s would agree I don’t want to be friends of BFF’s with my husband’s ex but I would appreciate a little respect and less negativity. We aren’t the ones that ended these relationships. That was something completely between the two parents whom split up for whatever reason and that needs to be evaluated by those two people to help get over the pain or whatever feelings there may be and not carried over to an innocent person that came into the picture later. Ex’s should be respectful and considerate of the new husband or wife in their ex’s life and this will help teach good values and morals to your children. Don’t teach kids how to ride the negative train as I say. I could go on forever but just think hard before you are nasty to the new person or want to give them the cold shoulder because more than likely it’s completely unnecessary!

  6. courtney says:

    This is a ridiculous “article” to feature on a family website. Maybe her ex is as horrible as she says, but this is nothing more than a bitter diatribe that belongs on her own social media. Clearly not an example of how to be mature and move on.

  7. BabyBoy says:

    While you are completely entitled to your opinion mine is far different. My ex and I ended things because we were horrible together, fighting all the time and making such a hostile living situation for everyone around. I think understanding that is huge and knowing your child should never need to live like that.
    Fast forward a few years, my husband and my ex get along great and even hang out when I’m not around. His gf and I are friends as well, why? Because it’s important to my child and also cause I honestly don’t care who he’s with as long as they love my child. On top of being friends with my ex’s gf I’m also very close with his family as is my husband.
    There is no bitterness or resentment, why you ask, because we both made a choice that we made better parents not being together.
    People need to stop feeling sorry for themselves and put their children first. If the woman is good to your child then that’s all that should matter.

  8. Kaesean says:

    Definitely understood. You said a mouthful…especially about people making this “the gold standard of a healthy relationship.” You are not trying to rip his new lady’s face off….you just choose to keep it basic with boundaries. You are not doing any harm to the children, ESPECIALLY, if she is only a girlfriend. If anything, he doesn’t need to bring random women around the children, if that is the case. You are responsible for protecting your feelings the best way you know how. If this is working for you and benefits your emotional health, which is vital with parenting, do what keeps you comfortable. Do not allow others to judge you and make you feel bad. Do not allow others to tell you what the standard co-parent relationship should be. I definitely understand you and I do not see you as bitter or resentful. I see you setting boundaries and keeping it black and white.

  9. karen says:

    Did anyone else notice how there was really no clear, concrete reasons mentioned in the article??? Like another commenter mentioned, the author comes off somewhat resentful/bitter — although i would just say, defensive.

  10. Ashley says:

    Personally, I totally get not wanting to be tight with the step mom/new girlfriend. Civility is enough, really. Definitely be on a level where you would be comfortable discussing issues that might come up, for example if your kids are saying she doesn’t make them clean their rooms, or isn’t strict on homework. You, your ex, and anyone new in your child’s life needs to be on the same page with that kind of stuff. Obviously your ex should be the first to make sure the new girl/boy-friend knows the ropes, but if you find yourself in a situation where information might be getting lost you should be comfortable enough with this other person to take it upon yourself to talk with them about it, otherwise it’s going to drive you insane.

  11. Sabina says:

    It sounds to me someone is resentful and bitter towards her ex AND it sounds a little bit like you are using “friends” and “friendly” interchangeably. While I am not best friends with my ex’s new girlfriend, I AM friendly. We do txt, we chat when we come into contact, and we are “friends” on Facebook. It is all the same with my new husband’s ex wife. I lived through an ugly divorce as a child and my mother refused to be friendly with my father or his new partner. My siblings and I always felt like we had choose between parents or felt guilty if we had fun with my dad and his new girlfriend. We wouldn’t be able to share our exciting fun day that WE enjoyed together because our mom wouldn’t want to hear about us being happy with them. I vowed to NEVER let my feelings interfere with my kids sharing THEIR lives with me, which occasionally includes their father and his girlfriend. She will sometimes post activities they do on Facebook and I enjoy seeing them happy doing fun things. Or she will send me pics they take at school events from other angles I may have missed. I am friendly with my new husbands ex wife for the same reasons. When we’re picking up the kids for our visitation she and I smile and joke a little and then say goodbye. It IS selfish to refuse to try to have a friendly relationship with your ex and his new partner.
    I get it, it’s SO old fashioned to put your kids first and try to be a grownup for their sake. But call me an old fashioned girl that I suck it up and play nice with the new kid in the sandbox. I consider myself lucky that I got out of that nightmare marriage and have a little compassion for the jerk she’s stuck with now if anything. But of course I keep that to myself ; )

    • courtney says:

      Yay for you for actually learning from the experiences you lived through and choosing to do things differently for your kids. All too often, people are too focused on their own selfish feelings and don’t do the right thing for the kids. Sounds like you’re raising healthy, functioning kids that will learn by example!

  12. artrell says:

    I feel we put too much on ourselves as people.I don’t believe you need to be friends.We can co-parent and leave it at that.And because I’m not friends with the new girlfriend it doesn’t mean I’m resentful.Hopefully,I do have friends of my own and the ability to make new friends.I just don’t see the necessity.And think people do to much.For instance,Why do I have to vacation with my ex and his new girlfriend and the children.It would be perfectly fine if the children vacationed with their Dad and his new girlfriend or wife.I do believe many things are done for the sake of the parents.I really don’t think the children care.All they want and need is two parents that love them and will be there for them when ever they need them.

  13. Cody says:

    There is a huge difference though between a girlfriend and a new wife/stepmom. Coming from someone who was just a girlfriend to someone who had kids I really appreciate this post. She never said she was nasty to her and I don’t think you have to befriend them in anyway. The mom and I were friendly towards one another but we weren’t friends. You can be nice and courteous to someone even when you aren’t friends and I think that it what the OP is getting at.

  14. Liz says:

    I agree and disagree with your post and hear me out. I am a mother to a beautiful little girl who has a stepmom because my ex obviously remarried. Now you say that some people break up because they “just didn’t have anything in common” or “it just didn’t work out” and that for those people it should be easier. It’s not true. Any “breaking” of something is hard. Any failure of a marriage in whatever capacity it happened to go down in is very hard emotionally, physically, and financially. We all do handle those things differently but the basic thing it comes down to when you are a parent is that we have to push our feeling aside and do what is best for them to make sure their little lives have the least amount of impact possible. That being said being friends and friend to with a constant/steady/potential wife girlfriend is a must. You don’t have to go shopping together, braid each other’s hair, or share your deepest darkest secrets but you need to befriend her. She is an influence in your children’s life and you as the mother need to help her to be the best she can be in your kids lives. Talk to her about the challenges your kids are facing, school projects, performances etc…you can’t count on your ex to do all that and just give her his two cents. Do you think your kids don’t notice your avoidance of her or his other girlfriends? pick up on the animosity? because if you think they don’t, your wrong. Yes you and your ex didn’t work out maybe it was terrible (mine sure was) but my little girl feeling comfortable and loved by all is more important than how I feel about my ex and his now wife. He married our married neighbor for goodness sake. can’t get much more awkward than that! 🙂 Her and I are friends in real life. Not Facebook life or Instagram life. If I text my ex about my daughter I text her too, because they are going to talk anyways I would like the stepmom to hear what I really said versus my exes twisted version. She is on my side a lot too for some things like signing my daughter up for ballet when her dad refused. I think you are making a mistake by not being really involved. And trust me ITS HARD! If was really really hard at first! Some days are better than others but I constantly try. You saw something admirable in your ex in the oast enough to marry him and have his children and obviously these women see it too. Don’t fault them for that and shoot my ex IS a great man to his wife but he and I were like fire and gasoline.

    • Jessica says:

      Thank you for acknowledging that the new woman in your ex’s life saw something you may have once seen in him too. Thank you for also trying your best to be the best mom/parent/friend/woman you can be! No one can be mad at you for trying your best and we all know just how difficult it really is. I’m the girlfriend/fiancé you want to hate and in my relationship/situation, I’m also trying my very best to be a good step mom and I’m met with a lot of animosity. So much so that the kids are confused whether to love me/hug me or talk bad behind my back because they know that’s what their biological mother wants to hear. At the end of the day we are the adults and the children are just caught in the middle. It’s not fair to them. They should be free to love whoever comes into their lives; parents, step parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, religious figures, friends, siblings, etc. What ever happened to the golden rule?! Treat others the way you would like to be treated. I commend you Liz for taking the higher road. Thank you for this post. Your children are lucky to have you as a mother.

      • Lousheba says:

        Hey guys, my two sense on this issue is exactly what it is, two cents in anyone’s life outside of the one I’m living. But with that, I add, absconding yourself from dealing with the folks that your children must deal with on a regular basis is selfish to say the least. In my opinion, I want to know my ex’s associates especially if he has an intimate relationship with them. My children will be subjected to these people to no fault of their own and you best believe I need to know them inside and out. I have nothing to hide so if they need to Facebook friend me, so be it! I want to see what the heck they are into also. My kids are the most important thing in my life especially since their dad has moved on. I’ll be damned if I allow someone to hurt them. The bad choices I’ve made will not be their burden, and if it means I have to befriend some new women in their dads life, then so be it. When children are involved, we no longer have the luxury of self-satisfaction. I’m just saying… Think it through. You only get one shot at raising your children in a healthy, safe environment. Don’t ruin it with thoughts of conspiracy or regret. In some cases relationships are toxic for the spouse and the kids, but in many cases it’s a misunderstanding with the adults alone. Your ex may have screwed your relationship in your opinion, but don’t drop the ball with your kids and allow him to screw them also. If they will be apart of my kids lives, I’m keeping these folks as close to me as possible! Just my thoughts.

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