I’m dating again after being divorced for the past couple of years, but I’m having a tough time because my ex-wife continues to flirt with me. She texts me about the kids and then slips in other comments that make my girlfriend uncomfortable. My girlfriend says that my ex-wife is trying to flirt with me and tells me that if I want to be back with her, then “just go.” I don’t want to be with her, but I do need to talk with her about our kids every so often. I feel caught in the middle and don’t know how to communicate with my ex-wife and keep things cool with my girlfriend.
I’ve got a few tough questions for you based on your question to me: First, is there any part of you that still longs to be with your ex-wife? Could you be sending out any subtle signals to her to indicate that you’re still interested? Even though you ended your marriage, it’s normal to still have some longings of having your family back together. Even if you’re simply drawn to the idea of having your family back together, that’s enough to inadvertently send out signals to your ex-wife.
If some of those feelings are still there, then you need to own up to that fact with yourself and your girlfriend and decide how you want to proceed. If you want to work toward reconciliation with your ex-wife, then do it. If not, but you’re still feeling some connection, then be honest about it and don’t blame your girlfriend for feeling insecure. Some people can tolerate that uncertainty in a relationship, but your girlfriend may not be able to.
If none of this applies and you’re genuinely putting up a wall with your ex-wife to let her know there is no chance of getting back together, then let’s talk about what you can do. First, I would make sure that you only communicate with your ex-wife about the children and never respond to any of the other comments she makes to you. I would encourage you to have complete transparency with your girlfriend about the communications from your ex-wife and show her that you’re not taking them any further. Reassure her that she has nothing to worry about.
You can’t stop your ex-wife from communicating with you about the children, but you can control how you respond to her. If your girlfriend sees that you have solid boundaries in place, your ex-wife won’t be as much of a threat.
I also recommend you let your ex-wife know that you have no interest in her anymore and that you need her to only communicate with you about the children. Tell her clearly that the other comments are inappropriate and need to stop. She may not care, but again, you’re doing everything you can to establish boundaries with her.
You don’t need to be caught in the middle of anything if you’ve made a firm decision about who you’re committed to romantically and do everything in your power to protect that relationship.
Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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