One of the most common concerns I hear from women dating divorced men is something relating to his ex. Perhaps she’s still in the picture. Or she’s not in the picture but she bugs you anyway. Or maybe she doesn’t like you, or uses the kids as pawns to manipulate your boyfriend, or he’s talking to her or helping her more often than you feel comfortable with.
Many exes aren’t a problem. But when she is a problem, even a minor problem, the most common reason is a rather simple one:
She isn’t over him yet.
This is a confusing concept to many. People often believe that if an ex isn’t over you, it must mean they still love you or want you back. Sometimes, that’s actually the case. But other times, it’s only that he or she simply hasn’t let go of you, your relationship, or the “idea” of you yet.
This can cause problems when dating a man who is separated or divorced. When an ex hasn’t cut the emotional cord yet, she may behave in a variety of ways that can thwart your relationship. This is especially true if he reinforces these behaviors.
As I discuss in Dating the Divorced Man, here are some of the signs that his ex isn’t over him yet:
- Dependence. Women who haven’t let go will want or need help with this or that. For example, she’ll call her ex to help her with things she could do herself (or hire someone to do), such as fixing things around her home or moving. She may even consult him for advice or emotional support. This is a way she stays tied to him.
- Anger. She may be rude to him (or you) and/or make nasty comments about him or you. She may do this in person, or over text/email/phone. She seems to go out of her way to create conflict with him, even after a period of being nice or pleasant. This is another (albeit strange) way she can stay tied to her ex. Much like certain children act poorly because they’re desperate for attention, a lonely ex may use anger to stay engaged with her ex.
- She ignores you. She doesn’t seem to acknowledge you or that he’s involved with you, almost as if she wants to pretend you don’t exist.
Many times, it’s easy to justify such behaviors, especially if he and his ex have kids together. But the truth is, when a woman moves on with her life, she doesn’t do these things. She doesn’t want to preserve that connection, even if they remain on good terms.
It’s a creepy feeling to date someone whose ex hasn’t let go. You almost feel like you’re interloping in someone else’s relationship, like you’re the third wheel. In the end, it’s up to him to stop reinforcing such behavior in his ex, letting her move on with her life.
Have you dated a man whose ex showed such behavior? Or, guys, have you seen such behavior in your exes?