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