How to move on from jealousy and resentment?
August 25, 2016 11:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm jealous and resentful of my boyfriend's ex-wife. How to move on?

I have been dating my boyfriend for eight months now. When we met, he was separated but not divorced. He is now going through the divorce process. I need some advice on how to manage my feelings.

They were together for 10+ years and have one son. When we met, their romantic connection had been over for a year, but they’d only been living separately for three months. Their initial parting was dramatic and painful (her decision), and though he has told me several times he does not want to be in a relationship with her, he still considers her a good friend. He has even gone so far as to say, “I knew this was going to be strange for someone else,” meaning their close connection might be challenging for a new partner. He liked to go out of his way to help her. He has made appointments for her at her request, brought her food when she was ill, picked her up and run errands with her, and has generally been an eager pal. I didn’t love this and expressed reservations. At times, he apologized, and other times he told me he intended to keep her in his life beyond what was required for childcare, and basically I should deal with it.

It did bother me, but my jealousy was eventually compounded with resentment when she went off the deep end and started dating a man with a criminal history who caused big drama that impacted all of us. There was a scene where the child was involved, the police came, the man was arrested, a restraining order was filed. We thought it was over, but, incredibly, she went out with him again and stayed out all night with the young son home alone. Later, she agreed to stop seeing him when my boyfriend said it was inappropriate given her joint custody of their son. I got the feeling this behavior was not out of character for her.

When that happened, he told me he wasn’t feeling as close to her, and maybe I’d been right to question his behavior. I was relieved because it seemed he was continuing to move on. A few weeks of peace went by, but just a few days ago, he announced they were taking a five hour class required for their divorce together (they could’ve taken it on different days, different times, but purposely chose the same class). He seemed to be feeling kindly and close with her again for whatever reason. I genuinely wanted to be okay with them taking the class together. After all, it was helping the divorce process. I eventually had to admit I was bothered. I felt he could have at least spoken to me first, given all we have discussed. He later told me he also agreed to have lunch with her just to hang out.

I’m exasperated. We talked about it, and he again emphasized that he does not want to be in a relationship with her, but does consider her a sister and would like to hang out with her socially. He said he didn't consider my feelings in the situation because it so obvious to him where they stand as just friends. I’d be fine with this if I felt that was all there was to it, but it seems deeper to me for reasons I can’t articulate.

Just to be clear, I’ve never advocated that they not be friendly with each other. I know how important that is for their child. What bothers me is the extended emotional connection and whatever else is going on.

Any insights on this situation, how to move on from my feelings of resentment and jealousy would be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Moving on would be one way to move on from your feelings of resentment and jealousy. You can't make feelings go away. You can remove yourself from the stimulus, though, by backing way away or ending the relationship, which I think is likely the right thing to do. He needs to focus on some rather serious issues in his life before he's going to have the psychological and emotional ability to be with anyone else.

You can't make him do anything. That's neither your right nor your obligation. Two adults, both technically competent, have different goals and neither is interested in compromise. One of them wants to do something and the other doesn't want the first to do something. First wins.

In different terms: either this is okay with you or it's not. Live with it or don't, that's the choice you get here.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:42 AM on August 25, 2016 [19 favorites]


You have to have a conversation with your soul/spirit/self.

He's never not going to be close with his ex-wife. If you want to be his girlfriend/future wife, you have to become ok with this. This means sitting yourself down and saying (to yourself) that this is the way life is going to be from now on. Every time you find yourself being jealous or feeling resentment, you must remind yourself to cut it out - you decided that his relationship with you was more important than your feelings about his relationship with his ex.

The only person you can change in this situation is you.
posted by INFJ at 11:43 AM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


consider her a sister

What does this mean? He was fucking his "sister" and had a baby with her?

I would have been out of there when she dated a criminal, left the kid alone all night and this failed to cause the bf to sue for full custody. He is failing his own child, he won't treat you better. This is some deeply messed up stuff.

I learned that jealousy means I am feeling screwed over. I am not a jealous person if my needs are met. I won't ever again stay with someone who causes me to feel jealous. It tells me I am being mistreated.

Getting over your jealousy means learning to eat shit and like it. I do not recommend living that way.
posted by Michele in California at 11:50 AM on August 25, 2016 [95 favorites]


Perhaps instead of quashing your feelings and denying their legitimacy, you should try to listen to what they are telling you. I know women are socialized to be accommodating and suffer any number of slings and arrows in order to keep their man, but it truly breaks my heart to see them asking, "How can I smush down my feeling here so I can continue to enjoy tiny crumbs from this man's table?"

Would you be jealous and resentful if he was fully present for your relationship? Would you be jealous and resentful if he made you, him, and his son, feel like his closest family?

He has told you he doesn't consider your feelings! Why do you think that means you must also deny them?
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:02 PM on August 25, 2016 [51 favorites]


Divorce is hard. Even when the relationship is truly over, it is still hard to let go. Those ties that are so exasperating for you will likely weaken over time. She will stop asking him to pick things up, he will stop being involved when she has the flu. Their separate lives will naturally begin to take precedence over their former habits and shared responsibilities, again over time. It will take longer than if it were an ugly divorce because they do want to get along, and they do want to co-parent well, but it will happen.

He got involved with you before that natural process happened. That was a mistake on his part, but it is what it is. That's why rebounds are often unsustainable. I'm sorry. His marriage is over, but his relationship with his ex hasn't become a separate coparenting one yet.

Unfortunately, your (natural, understandable) resentment is prolonging that process. Every time you say "you are too close with your ex" he re-articulates to himself how important it is to have a good relationship with his ex for his kid's sake. Your pushback pushes him back to her. Not for anything romantic or wrong, but because it simply isn't over yet.

She was there first and she's there for the duration. In this situation you may need to move on full-stop in order to move on from feelings of jealousy and resentment.
posted by headnsouth at 12:07 PM on August 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


What does this mean? He was fucking his "sister" and had a baby with her?

I'd wager that, much like when I say that an ex of mine is like a brother to me, that his feelings for his ex changed and while he felt a romantic connection before, he feels a familial connection to her now. It's not a rare sentiment and not worth using as a way to trash the guy.

OP, the ex is going to be in this guy's life forever, because they have a kid together. Imagine that things stay like this, that he doesn't change -- is that a life you want? Because things might change, but it's never a good idea to tie your life to someone else's in the hopes that they'll change to be like what you want them to be. If you're not happy with the way things are and he's not making any kind of attempt to meet you halfway, it's time to go.
posted by palomar at 12:07 PM on August 25, 2016 [21 favorites]


My thought was also for their child! Holy Sh*t!!

For the sake of their child, excuse yourself immediately from this mess and walk away. No, run away! Get out of this crazy drama!! You are an extra person in the mix your BF and his ex can not accommodate. Step back. They may yet realize their first job is their child.

I'm so sorry, but he is a screwed up person and you should work on not being attracted to him. He treats your efforts and affection terribly, he does not value how amazing you are! He treats his child terribly (agreed he should have had his eyes opened/sued for custody.) Plus, he's playing games. Girl, you can do so so much better than this family.

I want to add that you sound grounded, patient, empathetic, kind, and exceptionally kind hearted. For all of those reasons, preserve your good character and your sanity - RUN.
posted by jbenben at 12:07 PM on August 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


Examine the feelings that you can't identify and articulate yet. He has a significant past with this woman, and he has a child with her, so they will be bonded through that for the foreseeable future. It's in his child's best interest for your boyfriend to have a strong and stable relationship with his ex, especially if ex is going through a crisis period. Her well being directly impacts their child and if your boyfriend can do some small things to promote that (meals when sick, help with errands, etc), I don't think that's beyond the pale.

Is some of this rooted in your boyfriend not being thoughtful, considerate, and loving toward you? Is he not doing things big and small to show you how much you mean to him? Are you not feeling loved enough? Are you not having your needs met? If there's a lacking in your own relationship with him, that could have the effect of magnifying and emphasizing that he's able to do some small things for his ex, but is unable to create a safe and satisfying relationship with you.

However, if you're satisfied and happy with your own relationship with him, yet still being bothered that he is still involved in many aspects of his ex's life beyond the absolute minimum, you may want to reconsider dating someone who has an ex and a child. The child's well being comes before yours. Your boyfriend's greatest responsibility isn't to make his adult girlfriend as comfortable as possible; it's to create the most stable, loving, and healthy environment for his minor child and, in the absence of abuse, model kind, thoughtful, and mature behavior with the child's mother. Dating a divorced parent isn't for everyone. And, that's OK.
posted by quince at 12:14 PM on August 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


"He has told you he doesn't consider your feelings! Why do you think that means you must also deny them?"

When I wrote he's "playing games" I specifically meant this. He knows your feelings are important, he just wants to see if he can get you to ignore your own well being over whatever he wants whenever he wants it.

He's playing a game where you always lose. That's the thing you can't quite articulate. The antidote is to move on from him entirely. You can't make someone into a respectful loving person with good character. You can't live this into being a better person.

You're better than this. People who play games are not worth your time.
posted by jbenben at 12:17 PM on August 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Seconding headnsouth. Also, I've been in your shoes and I do know now that I should not have been involved with someone who is undergoing a divorce process. I've also been the person who is undergoing divorce and got emotionally involved with someone else before the healing process was over.

Divorce is hard and the fallout will catch up with anyone who decides to skip that grieving process. It is inevitable. And these two people you are dealing with are obviously processing their fallout in their own ways and you are the third wheel in this whole thing.

So my advice to you would be to get out and let him/her sort themselves out before you get really hurt.
posted by longjump at 12:23 PM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


He didn't consider your feelings because that means he'd have to think about what you want, instead of what he wants. Tells you everything you need to know really. Except in all this talk about what the adults want, their poor child is left alone all night by themselves. Call CPS and run. If he doesn't care about his own kid, what makes you think he will care about you?
posted by Jubey at 12:29 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


There are at least a dozen ways for this to go bad for every outcome that's even tolerable -- and if you think things are rough now, just wait till that kid hits puberty.

With that incident where the kid was left alone all night while the mother was out with a boyfriend who had some kind of restraining order against him, and if you happen to be a counselor or in any of a number of other helping professions, you might already be obligated to make a report of potential child abuse or neglect.

Leave, and don't waste a lot of time doing it.
posted by jamjam at 12:35 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


It sounds more like you would be signing up for years and years of drama. The tending to her when she is sick thing will dwindle off for all the reasons headnsouth mentions.

And since Mom is unstable and Dad is a bit of a lame duck it will probably just turn into years of spending money on lawyers and the Crazy Ex-Wife With Bad Boyfriends show.

Stepfamilies are notoriously hard and this guy has nearly no parenting skills; you need mad skills to integrate somebody new into a family. This guy sounds very low on relationship skills. I would expect hell. The kid, who has been through some pretty big upheavals, is already primed to act out. If he can't draw boundaries with the ex, I bet he can't draw them with the kid, and I'd expect a lot of acting out directed towards you because (1) traumatized kid (2) lousy parents (3) you'd be a "safe" target -- take out your anger at mom and dad without doing so directly!
posted by kmennie at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


He treats his son worse than his ex.
He treats you worse than either his ex or his son.
He gives his ex total priority in his life.

Conclusion: while it is reasonable and right for him to put his son before you, it is most definitely not right for him to put his ex first, before either you or his son. She is, after all, his ex: his minor child and his current partner (right now, that's you) should come before any ex.

Wanting to remain friendly for the sake of their mutual child is one thing, but what you've described is a deep ongoing emotional attachment --- and while he is free to be emotionally attached to anyone he wants, while he is attached to her he obviously doesn't have the bandwidth to also accommodate you and your feelings/needs/wants/interests. Heck, he's so tied up in what his ex wants that he doesn't even have the bandwidth for his son, and that's even worse!

I'm sorry, but the best thing you can do for yourself is DTMFA: it'll never get better, it'll only get worse, and you'll be dragged into their ongoing drama.
posted by easily confused at 1:09 PM on August 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Whoa, tire screech. I misread the objects in these sentences the first time.

There was a scene where the child was involved, the police came, the man was arrested, a restraining order was filed. We thought it was over, but, incredibly, she went out with him again and stayed out all night with the young son home alone. Later, she agreed to stop seeing him when my boyfriend said it was inappropriate

The man was arrested for SOMETHING HE DID TO THE CHILD and there was a RESTRAINING ORDER KEEPING HIM FROM THE CHILD and the mother's solution to this was GO OUT WITH THE MOLESTER AND LEAVE THE CHILD AT HOME?

And your boyfriend did NOT LAWYER UP IMMEDIATELY TO REVOKE HER CUSTODY but instead HAD TO EXPLAIN WHY IT WAS WRONG AND TOOK HER SOUP WHEN SHE FELT ICKYPOO??

Your boyfriend is the literal worst. You are the literal worst's girlfriend. This should be a bigger deal to you, to not be the literal worst's girlfriend rather than trying to find a way to not feel so bad. You feel bad because it is bad. If you are afraid to leave, please contact a shelter or domestic violence hotline or NAMI. Reach out to a friend or family.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:15 PM on August 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


I hope you don't feel completely blindsided by getting answers to a question you didn't ask.

Ten years married, physically separated for only three months, the divorce was his ex's decision?

Setting aside the DRAMAZ and the holy sh*t factor of what happened - your boyfriend is nowhere near ready to date.

Stay with this man and you are setting yourself up for a losing situation. Bail now. NOW.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:36 PM on August 25, 2016 [16 favorites]


OP, perhaps you can contact the mods and post a clarification as to whether or not Lyn Never is correct in her parsing of that section.

This stuff is what I am referring to when I say it is deeply messed up stuff. If my ex had shared custody, dated someone that hurt our children, got a restraining order and then dated the person again and dealt with the problem of the restraining order by just leaving the kids at home alone all night, I would get full custody so fast your head would spin and if he didn't cooperate, I would be seeking criminal charges against him for his actions.

As stated above, this man is prioritizing his bizarre relationship with his ex over his child's welfare and over you. If he is prioritizing the ex over the child in a situation where mom is genuinely a danger to their child, this is just never going to go anywhere good, ever. This man has something really wrong with his internal compass.

I honestly don't understand the "sister" thing. I can't imagine referring to an ex that way, but that is not why I say this is seriously messed up. But some of your passages are a bit murky. Perhaps you can post a clarification.

FWIW, I am divorced. The divorce was long and drawn out due to extenuating circumstances. This kind of ongoing emotional attachment played zero part. I barely speak to my ex. We exchange emails once a year for tax purposes because I still get alimony. (Should I remarry, thus losing my alimony, I imagine all contact would cease.) We have two adult sons that still live with me. We are civil, but we went our separate ways. That was the entire point of leaving. So, no, not everyone remains in ongoing contact of this sort, even though significant contact for purposes of child rearing is completely normal when you divorce with minor kids. If this were about the child's welfare, then he should have really had a cow when she endangered the child's welfare and that seems to have not happened.

But perhaps we are misunderstanding something.
posted by Michele in California at 1:46 PM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, I read this completely differently from everyone else in this thread.

Ignoring all the drama with the ex-wife's boyfriend and so forth... I think it's unrealistic to expect that your boyfriend will become distant from his ex-wife and the mother of his child and to start treating her like "just friends." He's telling you that to put you at ease, but this will not come to pass. Even if there is no more romantic or sexual connection between them, there is a much deeper connection between two people who have been married and raised a child together than there could possibly be between two people who have been dating for a few months. You must recognize this and accept it in order to exist comfortably in this situation. The root of your anxiety here is jealousy at the intimacy and closeness that he has shared with his ex, and while I think anyone can appreciate how anxiety-provoking it would be to have your partner hanging out with their ex for five hours a week, the child is what tips this in the other direction to me. He is trying to do right by his child by learning how to get along with his ex. Give him the space and patience to feel that out and try to set your own insecurities aside. If you make this into a point of conflict you are going to lose him, because no man is going to choose a girlfriend of a few months over an amicable relationship with the mother of his child.
posted by deathpanels at 1:59 PM on August 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


My husband was divorced from his wife 27 years when we met. They have a connection that is going to be there, plus they have a son. At times he has turned to her for advice when he and I had some issues. This hurt my feelings, but really, it just doesn't matter. I know he wants to be with me because he tells me and behaves as such. My jealousy doesn't feel right to me, but it's there. When I feel it I remind myself that my husband is a loyal and loving partner. I consider it an attribute that he respects his ex and treats her as a friend. It's my issue, not his, although it has brought us closer to hav some discussion around it.
posted by waving at 2:00 PM on August 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think you are asking three questions.

1) Can divorced parents have a close friendship, and is that necessarily weird or screwed up?
2) Can the girlfriend of a divorced father come to terms with the above, and
3) Is there something wrong with this particular picture?

Speaking as the child of divorced parents and someone who has dated a divorced parent, I think that with time, close friendships between exes can be awesome. The guy I dated lived on the block with his ex. They shared custody of their kid and he also babysat her new kid she had with her new husband. They were all happy, especially the kids. Similarly there are a lot of close friendships among the divorced and remarried in my family and I value those relationships a lot, as well as their underlying message (that relationship and family need not shatter into dust when a marriage ends).

My experience also tells me that new girlfriends et al can become comfortable with this, but that it takes time.

I think you will have an easier time thinking about this if you figure out precisely which part of the situation is bothering you. Is it that you think he might still be in love with her? Is it that you think it is inappropriate for him to have a close relationship with his ex? Is it that you perceive her to be dangerous, unethical and unstable, and you fear that trouble leaking back into your own life through him? Is it that his reaction to her highlights his own questionable judgement? Or some combination of the above? When you figure out which part is bothering you, then I think you might have an easier time knowing what to do next.
posted by hungrytiger at 2:07 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Context:
My husband was married for 23 years before he divorced. He had three children with his wife. I met him around the time that the divorce talk was about to happen. They don't hate each other, they just weren't a match. And, yes, since there are kids and 23 years of shared history, they're going to be in each others' lives. Forever.

Thoughts, experiences, suggestions:
-When I met him, I had what I came to realize were very high expectations, hubristically high expectations, of how people in a relationship can or should prioritize one another. No two people are alike, and expecting to be understood is not the same experience as communicating well in order to find mutual, agreeable understanding. I adjusted quickly to kids being a priority over me, but I adjusted slowly to the times when his ex-wife was a priority over me. But I adjusted because we talked and listened and thought and talked again. We were sensible with one another, including understanding that a learning curve would be involved.

-Jealousy is often the irrational consequence of a rational, or at least human, emotional response. Explore, specifically, what motivates your jealous feelings. Is it anxiety or fear that they'll get back together? If so, articulate that. Is it resentment at being left out? If so, articulate that. It's easier to look for solutions to the base problem than the sense of jealousy that you feel when the damage is already being done.

-Accept that you're not the person controlling the dials on when your boyfriend will be ready to put a ten year relationship behind him to the degree you'd prefer. Remind yourself that this is apparent in most situations (e.g. some people are ready to jump off the high diving board the first time they climb it, others take a little convincing, and some never ever fully jump; wanting to make one of these people into the other isn't always possible, or even ethical).

-Remember that they still haven't even finalized the divorce. They are quite literally going to have to be communicating until that process is finished, at the very least.

-If you're up for it, see a counselor on your own terms. If you find value in the experience, consider asking your boyfriend to join a session. Even better, consider asking your boyfriend if he'd get some value out of a session or two with a counselor on his own. Divorce is hard, and weird, and my partner got a lot out of the maybe 4 biweekly sessions he sought during his.

-Think toward the future. Time will change his relationship with his ex, and his kids will grow up knowing you. I don't hang out with my husband's ex all the time, but when I do we have fun. Actual fun! I like her a lot. And I've been a stepdad to his kids for almost a decade now. Things change, that's the only constant.

-Suggestions that "your boyfriend is nowhere near ready to date" might be unnecessarily hurtful. I think people make that determination for themselves. We heard that a lot when we moved in together, from both sides--that I was predatory, taking an advantage of a weakened person, or that he was deluding himself and needed more time, and on and on and on. There are people I still don't talk to because they invested so little in giving us the benefit of the doubt that we understood the risks and benefits of our relationship and its timing.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:53 PM on August 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think you would have an easier time dealing with or overcoming feelings of jealousy and resentment if there weren't so much dysfunction and drama and, you know, restraining orders, on the other end of this relationship. Not even the most compersive, poly-happy, laid back people I know, who would happily accept a strong familial connection between their SO and their SO's separated co-parent, would be OK with this situation. Previous commenters saying that your boyfriend is prioritizing his ex over not just you but the actual well-being of his child are absolutely spot on. You are not the problem in this relationship, and I think even if jealousy and resentment are feelings you generally want to work on managing in your life, right now they've serving you as really valuable smoke alarms about your boyfriend, his judgement, and his unhealthy enabling relationship with his ex.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Mod note: From the OP:
What happened with the criminal guy is the he and the mother had a scuffle while the child was home, too. The scuffle wasn't serious in that nobody was hurt (I don't think he hit her, there was pushing/pulling), but was enough for the guy to get arrested. Nothing came of the arrest. The son saw it, or part of it, and called my boyfriend, who picked him up. My boyfriend was of course shaken by this incident, but chalked it up to an honest mistake on the part of the mother and the guy not being all he seemed. However, when she did subsequently stay out all night with criminal guy (the child is 12, by the way), he did threaten her with legal action and kept their son for two weeks. He initially set an ultamatum that she must seek professional help, but did not stand firm on that and let the son return to the joint custody arrangement because both the son and mother wanted it.

Thanks for the insights.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:39 PM on August 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think you might be wrong specifically in making the 5-hour class thing the final straw, because it sounds like the type of thing where it would be healthy and productive for them to attend and learn how to co-parent together, and if they decided that was for the best I don't think you get to veto that.

However, I also think that everyone else is right.
posted by acidic at 5:19 PM on August 25, 2016


Thank you for the update. I apologize for my first response being so harshly worded. Your update indicates a more nuanced sequence of events than what I thought was going on. So, I understand now why your alarms aren't going off like a three alarm fire, but this is still incredibly concerning.

He isn't ready to date. It is way too soon and he isn't even trying to put his attachment to her behind him at this point.

His relationship to his ex seems rather odd, even taking into account the need to build bridges for the sake of the child. I am no stranger to strange relationships, but this seems pretty unhealthy for all parties involved.

The wife's judgement is so bad, I think I would be wondering what on earth is wrong with the bf that he got with her to begin with. My ex always liked to act like he was a great guy, rescuing my pathetic self. I bought that for a lot of years. I don't buy that anymore. We all have our shortcomings and long term relationships tend to be with someone who is well matched to us on multiple fronts. If one party has some glaring defect, you can bet money their partner has something comparably wrong with them.

So, either, the bf is secretly as much dramaz as the wife, or he has something incredibly wrong with his internal compass. Either way, this gives me pause.

I will put up with all kinds of odd arrangements with a man, assuming he does an excellent job of taking care of my needs. I have learned that jealousy does not mean I am broken. It means I am being shafted by someone who cares a lot more about something else than he does me.

When you get with someone divorced or who has children from a prior relationship, you have to make allowances. But you should not accept just being used by someone who has too much on their plate, needs additional support and really has nothing to offer in exchange. I think that is the deal you are being offered and you need to tell him that he needs to come across with whatever it is you need or he needs to go.

Unless this is, like, the most amazing sex evar or something. I mean, have a good heart-to-heart with yourself and ask yourself what the hell is in it for you. And if it boils down to country music song lines about how a good woman stands by her man or something, you need to nope out of there. He doesn't yet really belong to you, so you really do not owe him that kind of loyalty at this stage.

Best.
posted by Michele in California at 5:57 PM on August 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think you should walk away from this, not because your boyfriend has done something unforgivable - I don't think he has, at all - rather the contrary: he wants to do the right thing, and the right thing is going to suck for you.

Your boyfriend's primary responsibility right now is his son's welfare. The kid is 12. His mother apparently has terrible judgment and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility. The kid is on the cusp of adolescence. The drama here is going to get MUCH BIGGER before it gets better. You will be the LAST priority as your boyfriend focuses his attention and resources on trying to make things better for his kid, which is going to be an uphill battle at best.

Additionally, there will be drama with the ex. And ADDITIONALLY, a lot of the effort your bf needs to make for his kid's welfare will involve ties to the ex, as you've seen. The parenting class is a good starting example. You see it as them spending inappropriate time together. But actually, it's just them both trying to prioritize the kid's welfare by working on their co-parenting. They're doing the right thing! You can't blame them for it! But the thing is, it doesn't matter, because the end result is the same: you are excluded and your interests come last. It's not their fault, it's just how it is. But it still feels shitty and lonely.

Maybe your boyfriend is so amazing that he's worth it; maybe you're so saintly and self-effacing that you'll be ok with all of this. But just understand, you're signing up for a lifetime of it if you stay.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:01 PM on August 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


he told me he intended to keep her in his life beyond what was required for childcare, and basically I should deal with it

You have nothing to gain and so you should leave him. He is not yet ready to commit to someone else, and after a ten year marriage, that is understandable.

The real question is : what's in it for you?
posted by Kwadeng at 3:12 AM on August 26, 2016


he told me he intended to keep her in his life beyond what was required for childcare, and basically I should deal with it.

Dump him.
posted by Beholder at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2016


It sounds like the divorce isn't finalized yet.

As a purely practical matter, it might be best for the child and other aspects of the divorce if they both feel that they are "friends" until it's over. It's possible that he's aware of this on some level but not able to or does not want to articulate it -- or it's possible that she is maintaining more ties with him than she would want if they weren't in the middle of a divorce. It may turn out that this friendship is rather one sided.

It can be very stressful to establish a new relationship with someone in the middle of getting a divorce. Tell him the two of you need to take a break until the divorce is finalized, plus a month or three. Of course you are free to date other people during this time -- if you haven't clicked with anyone by then, meet for coffee and see what his situation is then.
posted by yohko at 3:24 PM on August 26, 2016


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