Coping with a clingy ex

Vowing to stay friends with an ex is admirable, but this altruistic exit clause can create a whole new problem — an ex who won’t go away. Here’s how to cope with a lingering former spouse or lover so you can get on with your own life.

The Old Friend

When Jess started dating Tony, she knew that Fiona, his ex-wife, was still on the scene. “She’s part of his circle of old friends so we see her quite a bit on most weekends,” says Jess. These group gatherings always left Jess feeling exhausted and on edge, but it took her a while to figure out just what was pressing her buttons. “I noticed that Fiona often speaks in the past tense and refers to the ‘good old days’ — the time when she was with Tony. I’m pretty sure she’s not doing it to be nasty, but I just want to tell her to get over it,” Jess says.

Solution: An ex-spouse who is tied to a social group is notoriously hard to exorcise. They have every right to socialize with their circle of friends but the situation can be awkward, particularly when one party has moved on and the other is still living in the past.

When a partner’s ex is part of the furniture, you will need to handle things with the utmost tact and diplomacy. In a sense, they were there first and you don’t want to get the whole group offside, especially as the newcomer. Suggest that you and your partner spend more time with select individuals from the group rather than the whole team. That way you can leave a lingering ex discretely out of the picture.

The Work Colleague

Simon has to contend with new girlfriend Emma working day in, day out with her ex, David. “At first I found it very confronting, knowing that she was with him virtually more hours a week than she was with me,” says Simon, adding that he felt even more nervous when Emma attended post-work drinks and company functions. “I know that she ended the relationship. But I also know that he wasn’t happy about it. And I’m pretty sure he still has feelings for her,” he says.

Solution: A lingering ex who is also a co-worker is a tricky combination indeed. Working in close proximity provides plenty of opportunity for indiscretion, from flirty emails to those sometimes requisite post-work drinks. These circumstances can often prove too tempting to someone who’s not entirely committed to a new relationship.

Managing a relationship where this type of ex is involved requires superior self-control, trust and belief in your new relationship. Discuss with your partner the kinds of interaction and social activity you find acceptable — and the kinds of behavior you will not tolerate. For example, drinks with the team after work might be OK but one-on-one time together at a bar is a definite no-no.

The ‘Best Friend’

Aaron and girlfriend Cara were together for nine years; now new girlfriend Bronwyn wants him to herself. “It’s hard because Cara is a really nice girl,” say Bronwyn. “But I just want her to leave us alone so we can get on with our own lives!” The former couple has an extensive shared history — including joint custody of a five-year-old poodle, Milo — and Bronwyn feels she will never be Number One. “There’s always something she needs Aaron for — the dog, career advice, whatever.”

The ex who transforms into a best friend is quite possibly the hardest type of ex to purge. They are not malicious or even interested in reconciliation. More to the point, you’d probably quite like to be friends with them in other circumstances. But the reality is they have intimate connection with your lover, and while they occupy your shared personal space, your new relationship won’t ever reach its full potential.

Solution: Make sure you are the one your lover spends most time with, not their ex-cum-best friend. History is the glue that bonds your lover to his or her ex, and the only way you can compete is to ensure you fill your life together with fabulous new memories… featuring just the two of you.

Article courtesy of Click by Lavalife.

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