What is normal and how do I minimize any discomfort?
June 3, 2012 2:46 PM Subscribe
Are my boundaries "normal" or oversensitive, and should I apply them to this person I am soon to meet? Supersnowflakery within.
posted by thrasher to human relations (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My ex-husband and I were married 10 years and have been divorced 3. We live very far from each other and have not seen each other since we split, amicably, but we have remained friendly via phone, email and IM. He and his new wife will be visiting my town in a few months and staying with me and my boyfriend for a couple days. I have not yet met my ex's wife, but we're friends on Facebook and have exchanged somewhat superficial pleasantries there in advance of their visit. Everyone is looking forward to the visit, but I imagine there will be some weirdness. How do I minimize it?
I have experience to draw on: for two years I have been constantly learning and adjusting to my boyfriend's friendship with his ex. They were together nearly 20 years, we see her every couple weeks. She has been single since they split almost 4 years ago. She is very kind to me, she makes a point of including me in their friendship, has reached out to me and been there for me multiple times completely separate from him, and she has regularly shown clear respect for my relationship with him in many ways, so I don't perceive her as a threat at all. However... regardless of company - whether it's just the three of us, or we're out with friends they've both known longer than me, or if we're with new acquaintances - sprinkled into the rest of the conversation, she will refer to things they did together in the past, or will talk about people they knew that I don't, or she'll explain his behavior to me as if I'm unfamiliar with it, or she'll mention some item "we" - meaning she and my boyfriend - own together (when they split, they agreed to share joint custody of a large and valuable collection), with no explanation to new parties. It seems exclusionary, like an inappropriate crossing of boundaries; like she's still trying to hold some claim over him. I remind myself that my negative perception of her motives doesn't jive with the rest of her behavior towards me, that maintaining a friendship with someone you invested many years of your life is a GOOD thing, and that of course they're going to talk about their shared experiences, friends, and belongings, and that this is what I want and expect to do with my ex. All that said, it's still weird for me two years on.
I don't want to make my ex's new wife feel like this, and she won't have two years to adjust to me, only a couple days. Is my reaction just my insecurity and self-consciousness talking, or should I be mindful of doing these things to her too? When I've asked my ex about it in general terms, he says "everything will be fine." He says they know it could be a little weird. Part of me wants to talk to his new wife directly about it (presumably via Facebook prior to their visit). Bad plan?