By the time I was even thinking about dating after divorce, I had as little contact with my ex-husband as possible. I had absolutely no desire to think about him at all, much less share anything personal, like introducing him to a new boyfriend! (By the way, the word “boyfriend” was hard for me to say at 57 when I actually started dating after the divorce. The word boyfriend still seems too much like boy-toy or something!)
I also didn’t want to know who my ex was dating (Ugh!). At first, it was his affair partner (until that breathless affair fell apart), and then it was other women I didn’t want to know about. I didn’t want him to know anything about what I was doing either, so when faced with that question, “Should you tell your ex you are dating?” For me, the answer for me was definitely, “ No!”
Something that can influence your decision about whether, or how to tell your ex husband you have a new boyfriend is the age of your children. In my situation, our older three were already out of the house and living their own busy lives, and the last one was finishing high school and heading off to college before I was dating seriously.
If you have young children, you may have to figure out how to tell your ex you are dating, especially if the boyfriend is going to be interacting with your children on a regular basis. Hopefully, you have not been exposing children of any age to a whole parade of boyfriends. It’s probably best to date discreetly until there is someone in your life who could authentically be a long-term relationship.
Most kids have already had to adjust to their Dad’s affair partner being in their lives soon after the divorce. Hopefully, you can give your children some calm stability on your side of the fence for a while for their benefit, and yours too.
If you are in a relationship with someone who has the potential to be a serious, long-term partner, and he is included in activities with your children, it would probably be a good idea at some point to think about introducing the new boyfriend to your ex-husband.
You will most-likely want to know if your children are going to be spending significant time with your ex-husband’s girlfriend. If she was the affair partner, they have probably already been interacting with her. My wasband told me one time that “You would really like her (the girlfriend) if you got to know her. She’s very spiritual,” he said. I didn’t like her for all kinds of reasons; but I knew that she was going to at least be around my youngest child, whether I liked her or not. I’m not sure the other children ever officially met her and that was fine with me.
Your ex-husband has to deal with that same reality too, with your new boyfriend. When and how you tell your ex you have a new boyfriend is up to you. How your ex responds is up to him.
Introducing Boyfriend To Ex-Husband
I spent the first three years after the divorce trying to get myself back after the agony of the separation and then the long ordeal of the actual divorce. Most women have no desire to have another relationship until a significant length of time has passed after divorce. That’s a good, self-protective, wise choice.
I finally started nervously tip-toeing into Match.com about three years after the divorce. I answered our MasterPlan’s suggested lists for new relationships: I listed my “must have” choices: Strong faith in God. Has a job. Has good friend relationships. And my “deal breaker” list: Lives more than 30 miles away. Addictions. Children still at home, etc. Somewhere in the “Nice to have” section, I put “Loves to fish!”
One of the first guys I was interested in online had a picture with his profile. He looked healthy and honest and I liked his smile. We corresponded for several months without ever meeting. He was intelligent. He could write very well and he was funny!
At the time, he was travelling during the week between New Orleans and Kansas City for work. I was busy, busy, busy with kids, grandkids, friends and my own business that I was trying to grow. So it was a while before we met in person at a New Orleans type restaurant in our city that was close to my middle son’s house, “in case this guy gets weird, and you need a safe place to escape!” (Some kids get very protective when we start dating after divorce!)
I can’t even remember the first time I formally introduced this new boyfriend to my ex husband. (Again, a weird word for someone you’re dating at 57 years old!) I do remember the first time I took him to an event where friends and family would also be. We were going to meet at my youngest son’s cross country event. The night before, we were finalizing times and places etc. and he said, “Oh, by the way, one of my teeth just fell out.”
I hate to admit this, but I thought, “this is the first time anyone I know has met anyone I have dated, and a lot of our friends and family will be there, and he’s going to smile, and there will be a big gap where a tooth is supposed to be! Maybe I should just tell him I’m not going after all and the meet is cancelled or something!”
We laughed about it, and I eventually told him I was worried about introducing him to everyone and having him smile with a front tooth missing! He explained that it was a tooth way in the back on a bridge or something. At that point, I realized how much I wanted to make a good impression on my friends and family, and I did care that my ex-husband might be there with his skinny, long-legged, blonde girlfriend, and I didn’t want to show up with a guy with missing teeth!
I ended up marrying that same wonderful guy about a year later, and we have had a great life together … now it’s been 16 years. He was worth the wait. My life is rich and full of adventure, purpose and fun! And by the way, he “Loves to fish!” I honestly don’t remember, but I may have introduced him to my ex-husband that day. What I do remember is that my son won his race!
Ex-Husband Mad About New Boyfriend
Whether your ex-husband is mad about your new boyfriend or not usually depends on when the new guy shows up in your relationship. If the boyfriend was in the picture romantically before your divorce, your ex probably has a right to be mad. But if the divorce is final, your choice of your own boyfriend is completely up to you whether your ex is mad about it or not.
If your ex-husband is the one who left you and your family, it’s his problem if he is suddenly upset about you having a new romantic interest. I think the best way to react if your ex says anything at all about your new boyfriend is to say, “He’s a great person. I like him and the kids like him and that’s all that matters.”
Ex-Husband Jealous Of New Boyfriend
No matter what the circumstances of your divorce, one of the hardest things to do in the beginning is to see your ex moving on with anyone who isn’t you! We wonder if our ex is happier with the new person. We wonder if she is more fun or better in bed or whatever. Your ex-husband is probably asking those questions if you have a new boyfriend, too. I heard this statement once that I think is true: “Our ex doesn’t miss us when he leaves, but he does miss us when we start moving on.”
Again, if your ex-husband is the one who wanted the divorce, and now he is jealous of your new boyfriend, that’s his problem, not yours. If you are divorced and the marriage is over, who your ex gets involved with is something that is out of your control. It’s the same for your ex husband. He made his choice about the people in his life, and you get to make yours. Choose carefully because it matters for you and for your children to choose a person who is good and who has you and your children’s best interest at heart.
All of us have to put the divorce behind us and not let it destroy us or define our future. That includes accepting that our ex is moving on. So are we. It doesn’t really matter if your ex is mad about your new boyfriend or jealous of your new boyfriend.
If your ex reacts to or interferes with your new relationship in any negative or dangerous way, set (and enforce!) your boundaries. If he refuses to respect those boundaries, record and report any harassment that occurs.
The ultimate goal for everyone involved is for you and your ex (and your children) to move forward in the best way possible. It’s best for us. It’s best for our children. It’s best for the good of all.
Join the other women in the MasterPlan and MDRcommunity and let us help you get strong, conquer the chaos, figure out how to deal with family and friends (including new relationships!) and create a rich, good, fun full life starting now! We know how hard this divorce recovery trip can be and we can make everything so much easier by standing alongside you and being there for you for a full year.
Ex husbands and ex wives should focus on their own lives. They have no right to meddle in previous spouse’s lives!