This Valentine’s Day in honor of boundless LOVE making the world go ‘round, I wanted to share my thoughts on the “ex factor” when it comes to dating a divorced man or woman. Perhaps you’ve found a smart, sweet, funny, attractive and sensual person to spend your time with? Perhaps this person has never been in a relationship before and has a clean slate, beginners mind, no baggage and has just been working on their own self growth to prepare themselves for the day they met you. More realistically, this amazing person you’re into has an ex-factor or two- meaning, they’re the cat’s meow but they come attached to an ex who is in their life, meaning: their ex is also in YOUR life now.
In the past 5 years since my separation from my ex-husband, I’ve had the opportunity to experience the ex-factor from both angles: both being the ex-wife, contacting my ex-husband aka my children’s father, and being the girl-friend of a divorced man whos ex-wife (or ex-wives) contact him.
There’s no right way or wrong way to be in a relationship with an ex-factor. There are simple ways to minimize drama and maximize peace, enjoyment and ecstasy within your current relationship. The following requests are from my own experience and may or may not resonate with you! I’d love to hear your thoughts- send me feedback about what I’ve said and how its inline with or differs from your experience.
Before I get started let me address the element of my respect for love in all its forms. If you have an ex, you must have at one point been in love, for which there is a deep respect and appreciation from me toward what you had in the past. Secondly, let me applaud your courage to move on, to answer to the call of your heart which you interpreted as saying, “this version of us is over.” Endings are not easy, even when they are warranted or desired. My hands at my heart center, I bow to you for the love you once felt for your ex and for the way you navigated your way to an existence without each other as partners.
Ex Ettiquite request 1: Ex-wives, ex-husbands, please don’t send photos of yourself to your ex. If you have children with your ex and you’d like to share with him/her what the child is doing and you happen to be in the pic, go ahead and edit yourself out. It takes 15 seconds to crop a pic, or better yet, take a new pic of just the child in half that time. Your life post-divorce is not a contest as to who’s doing things that are more fun, who’s bonding more with the child, who’s able to eat lunch at school with the child more often. If that IS a game you play, consider that the message you’re sending actually says “Hey! We’re here doing this cool thing together and all I can think of is you. And instead of spending time with our child and giving her/him my undivided attention, it’s more important to me that I take time out of this priceless moment to rub in your face how great my hair looks today.”
Do I sound bitter? Its only because I’ve seen this from a few angles- if your ex didn’t want the divorce, they are in pain when they see pictures of you. How dare you exploit that, and thank you for showing me what kind of person you are, this early in the game. If it was your ex that wanted the divorce and you didn’t but are now feeling great about yourself and want them to see how happy and good looking you are now, I understand…and you’ve just friend-zoned yourself with me because you’re clearly not ready to be available and fully “in it” with me if you’re stuck on needing validation from your ex in order to move on. So thank you, either way, for exposing those characteristics. Reach me in a year if you’re ready and if I’m single let’s go ice skating and eat oysters together!
Would I ever in a million years send my ex a pic of me? No. Because sending imagery of yourself is for your new partner. I invite you to send your current sweetie pics of how great your hair looks, how genuine your smile is when you think of him/her, your beaming expression of pride when you finished that half marathon! If you’re single, rock it! Care for yourself, look great, take selfies and save them for when you’re ready for that blind date with a friend’s cousin or when you exchange numbers with that cutie from the coffee shop.
Ex Ettiquite request 2: Don’t text your ex after 9pm. Why are you thinking of him/her after 9pm? Whatever it is, save it for 7am. If your ex has moved on and is dating, after 9pm is reserved for the new flame- they’re making out on the couch while Alexa is rockin the playlist they made together. They’re studying each-other’s eyes and bodies by candlelight as they tell each other all the dark and light secrets of their pasts. Out of respect for the new person, unless there is an emergency that involves the child, there is no reason you should assume that you have the right to reach into his/her down time between 9pm-7am. Even if you text at 5am, you’re probably interrupting their morning delight session. Let’s say your ex keeps his/her ringer off- its still highly inappropriate to text during this 9pm-7am window because when there’s a pause and he/she looks at his/her phone, when there are missed messages from you, they need to read them to be sure it’s not an emergency. This is not good for you- this creates resentment, this causes distractions that deter your ex from moving forward in a healthy respectful new chapter with a new soul, who could potentially be the next spouse for him/her. Once the newbie becomes the spouse, he/she holds a lot of power and you want to be in this person’s good graces. If you have children, this person could one day be your children’s step parent, another layered reason that you want to keep clear, honest, respectful intentions.
If your ex isn’t dating, you still don’t need to reach out after
9pm. If you find yourself doing so, ask yourself, “why am I still relying on him/her as the person that’s there for me at night?” Perhaps its time you looked into reconnecting with old friends, making new ones or writing in a journal. This is a new version of your relationship with your ex, remember? Change can be hard. But you’ve got this! Use that
time frame to get in all your requests, information exchanges, etc.
Ex Etiquette request 3: Know what constitutes an emergency and what does not. Your dismay at your teenager’s behavior in school today is very important to share. You can share that before 9pm. It’s not an emergency. An emergency is “our child has a fever or 104, Im taking her to the ER. Meet us there?” Another emergency would be “My dad is on his death bed, we’re leaving now to drive through the night and say goodbye. I need the children now.” Non-emergencies would be “When are you going to pay me that $ you owe me for the girls’ gymnastics classes?” and “Ive really got to get child care coverage next week when Im in Vegas for work. Can you cover me?” You know when you could ask those things? 7am tomorrow. If you MUST get these urgent needs fired off, email them. Nobody’s gonna stop their naked cookie-baking dance party to check an email that comes in, so this is a safe way to cover your needs without interrupting the love birds.
Ex Ettiquite request 4: Newbie: don’t compare yourself to the ex. Ex: don’t compare yourself to the newbie. Making yourself miserable is all that will ever come from judging yourself in comparison to someone else. You’re bound to exaggerate their skills and characteristics, and even if you completely accurate with qualities you assign to the person you compare yourself to: does that person’s awesomeness somehow take away from your amazing-ness? She can be an Engineer for Tesla with perfect breasts AND you can still be a fantastic mom who dances gracefully and can beat any opponent at chess.
Ettiquite request 5: You’re special. Please don’t guilt trip your ex for experiencing things with someone else before you. Everything your new man or new woman does with you is the FIRST time he or she has done it with you. Falling in love is full of firsts. You can’t go back in time and be his first outdoor movie under the stars. You can’t go back in time and make her a mother. Remember that this person in front of you, enchanting you with her smile, giving you electric goose bumps with his touch- this person is the way he/she is because of the collection of experiences he/she had before meeting you. This is the first moment of the rest of your lives. Whether this person becomes significant and you grow old together or if this person serves as a flashlight into something you needed to know you wanted or didn’t want, every single thing you do together now is New. It’s the First time. Relationships are ephemeral. Enjoy every breath and notice all the magical moments along the way.
On Valentine’s Day and every day, be gentle with yourself. Be as slow as you need to be. There’s no rush. Just like an Instagram post will tell you: Ease into and trust the unfolding of your life. 💗