If your divorce does not involve children from the marriage or the relationship, there is technically no reason to maintain contact with your ex. That’s the good and the bad news. The good news is that you won’t have to deal with your ex again. The bad news is that you have to acknowledge that it’s really over. Whether or not you remain friends with your ex is up to you. You don’t get extra points for an amicable relationship with your ex. The most important part of divorce is that it gives both parties an opportunity to move on with their new lives.
It’s easier to move on if you sever ties completely. Often an ex will maintain contact because they don’t want to move on.
Ending a relationship can be difficult, even when the relationship is painful. Some even prolong adversarial relations because it’s some form of contact.
Your ex may want to maintain in a friendly relationship. Sometimes this includes sex. Clearly they’re not moving on and there’s a possibility he can manipulate you into believing that there’s still ‘something there’ and a chance of getting back together.
Many people who try to stay friends after divorce are doing so in hopes of either rekindling the relationship or using the other person as a crutch until someone better comes along.
But what happens when it’s the other person who moves on first?
Good for you if you can make the transition from ‘divorced’ to ‘friends’, especially if you have children and especially if you were married for a long time. But be sure that you’ve established your new, separate life before you make this transition. If you become best buddies too soon, your relationship with him could become a social crutch, or something you hide behind in place of creating a life for yourself.
The important point about being friends with your ex is that the relationship should evolve naturally. Don’t force it.
Also, it will not happen immediately – it cannot. You will need some time to ensure the relationship evolves into something clear where you can be friends.
In the beginning I recommend going cold turkey and not seeing your ex at all. Break all contact, delete him off Facebook and stop stalking him at the supermarket. Use the exercise on setting boundaries to set crucial boundaries with your ex.
When you have a new relationship you must honor your divorce. That means putting your new partner first. Any new relationship takes time to develop and you don’t want an ex hanging about in the wings to jeopardize things. You judge whether a natural friendship with your ex is healthy or not. If it interferes in your new life or your new relationship, end it.
Sometimes partners continue their sexual relationship after a break up. Sex relieves the loneliness and maintains ‘closeness’ with someone. Because you’re less familiar with each other after a break up, sex can feel more passionate. This is probably because it’s born of neediness and not love. Some couples will ‘use’ each other in this way while they’re breaking up. This prolongs the inevitable. I know of women who continue to sleep with their ex-partners long after they’ve remarried and had children. One such woman was Sue.
Sue continued to sleep with her ex-husband Ed on and off for 3 years even after Sue had remarried. It was very detrimental to both of them moving on or committing to their new relationships. When Sue’s new husband found out about her affair with her ex-husband, he ended their relationship immediately. Sue’s life became turmoil as she went through her second divorce within the space of a year.
This is not moving on. You need a clean break. You need closure. Don’t waste your life clinging to old relationships.
Women are often susceptible to sleeping with their ex during the Panic/negotiation phase of the naked divorce Grieving Cycle as a way of getting back together. For a woman, sex might mean all kinds of things and she’ll imbue it with all sorts of emotions. But it might not mean anything to the man.
Consider the impact of resentment and anger on your life. If you’re bitter and filled with resentment, remember that not forgiving someone is like taking the poison hoping your ex will die. You’re the one getting hurt by your bitterness. Your life is being ruined.
Complete the program, come to terms with your divorce, put it in the past and move on with your life as a different, more empowered woman.
Be civil. When you bump into your ex, greet him, shake hands or hug him if you’re both comfortable with this, in same way you would greet a business associate.
If you’re paying child maintenance, alimony or spousal support, make sure you pay on time to eliminate any need for contact.
When children are involved in divorce it’s very important for parents to behave civilly. I accept that this can be hard. It might always be hard. But there will be times you have to see your ex, perhaps when you communicate about the children’s health, school work and schedules, or during custody exchanges, or even sports, religious and academic events. In these cases, the rules are easy:
Here’s a video on how to handle the situation when you have to co-parent with a narcissist…
If you find you’re always locked in a battle with your ex over the details of parenting, try to step back and remember the bigger purpose. It’s in your children’s best interests to have a lasting, good relationship with both parents. Keep your long-term goals in mind – your children’s physical and mental health and your independence – and avoid disagreements about daily details.
Your happiness and the happiness of your children and, yes, even your ex, should be the broad brushstrokes in the big picture of your new lives after divorce.
Working amicably with your ex after a separation or divorce is sometimes a tall order, but you have the power and insight to put your own feelings aside and do what’s best for your kids. Learn how to make the process of co-parenting easier on everyone.
Though divorce with children can appear more complicated, divorces without children can be equally complicated. There is the possibility of never seeing the person you once shared love and a life with ever again.
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One thought on “The Ex-Factor – ex-etiquette, whether or not you have children!”
My ex never understood how bad was to fight in front of our children. He couldn’t be civil enough and I was always finding some ways to keep children out of it. I will never forgive myself because of what they have to go trough and because they are suffering the consequences of our bad parenting.