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Great EX-pectations - Is Your Ex Jeopardising Your Relationship?
Here's my advice for handling overly-friendly Exs
No one really wants to have an acrimonious relationship with their Ex, particularly when children are involved. But what about when you have a friendship with them and they’re still part of your life? Take Debbie, 37, who regularly texts, chats to, and even meets up with Ex-husband Jonathan. Surprise, surprise – her boyfriend of nine months, Mark, is not amused. And he's got every right to feel he should be Debbie's priority.
As Debbie’s finding, your relationship too could be jeopardised if you're a touch cosy with your Ex - even if it's innocent friendship. Take my quick quiz to determine whether Great EX-pectations feature too much in your day-to-day life.
1/ Do you regularly mention things like having spoken to your Ex on the phone, to your present partner?
2/ Does your Ex ever drop in unannounced?
3/ Does anything you do with your Ex (say, chatting on the phone) interfere with time with your present partner?
4/ Have you ever invited your Ex to meet up with you and your partner?
5/ Have you ever fibbed to your present partner about speaking to or seeing your Ex even if it was completely innocent?
6/ Has your partner ever mentioned or objected to the things you do with your Ex?
7/ Do you feel you have to walk on tenterhooks around your present partner about things regarding your Ex?
8/ If the tables were reversed, honestly, how would you feel about your present partner doing things with their Ex that you do with yours?
0 - 1 Yes Answers: No Ex-rated issues
You've got things under control when it comes to your ex-partner. Whatever interaction you might have with them (particularly if you had children with them) has obviously been thought through and doesn't threaten your new relationship.
2 - 3 Yes Answers: Beware of Ex-rated issues
You're on a slippery slope to jeopardising your present relationship. Best to put the brakes on your involvement with your Ex before you run into real trouble. Follow the advice below.
4 - 8 Yes Answers: Ex-Rated Danger Zone
You're in trouble here. The amount of time and energy you spend on your Ex eats into your time and energy for your present partner. Time to get your priorities right and apply the following advice to your behaviour:
Question your motives: ask yourself where your need to be excessively involved with your Ex comes from. Have you not got over them? Or do you use your involvement with your Ex to undermine your present partner for some reason? Perhaps you simply haven't realised how much this could upset your present partner. And now you know you'll invest your energies in your present relationship.
Act on your motive: now you've appraised your motives, sort out what to do about it. Let's say you actually try to get a rise from your present partner by being friendly with your Ex. What is it about them, that’s made you want to rattle their cage? Maybe they work long hours and need to prioritise time with you and your relationship. Spell this out to them and let them know you've been using your Ex to make them sit up and take notice of neglecting you.
Recognise attention seeking: if you feel the need to seek attention from your Ex, as well as your present partner, you must accept that this’ll always have negative consequences for your relationships. Set goals to get attention for positive things like excelling on a work project or taking up an exciting new hobby that makes you feel accomplished.
Streamline your Ex-Time: if you must stay in contact with your Ex - because you have children together or work together - streamline time with them to the minimum necessary for meeting your responsibilities. First discuss these plans with your present partner so they see you're good intentions to improve things.
Establish your boundaries: let your Ex know you’re setting new boundaries on the time you spend chatting to them on meeting up. It's always best to face these things head-on otherwise your Ex won't get the message and might keep ringing and expecting you to be available.
Prepare to be firm: you might’ve decided you’ll prioritise your new relationship but find your Ex has different ideas. Because you’ve simply thought it was the grown-up thing to stay friends, whereas they’ve harboured stronger feelings for you. Be ready to knock on the head their comments that your, "present partner’s being ridiculous," etc. Because ultimately who should have your undivided attention - someone from your past or someone in your present life? You should know the answer by now.
Published in The Express Newspaper
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