One of the milestones in dealing with a past relationship is the day your Ex acquires a new partner. It’s like that line in the Godfather III movie: “Just when you think you’re over it, your emotions pull you back in.”
Turn things around by shaking free of the past and preparing yourself for new personal connections. Try these steps for helping you and your children adjust to the changes in your relationships.
Steps to Take for Yourself
- Accept your feelings. It’s natural to go through a stage of jealousy or bitterness. Distinguish between having such emotions and acting on them. Realize that you can make your discomfort dissolve in time by training your mind to be peaceful. Meditation or yoga can help, as can talking about it in therapy sessions.
- Resist comparisons. Maybe the new girlfriend or boyfriend is younger, thinner, or richer than you. They won an Olympic gold medal in ice skating or they published a best seller. In any case, it’s more productive to focus on your own development. Comparison, or questioning “what’s wrong with me?” will drive you crazy and just make you upset. Plus, if you came from an abusive relationship, sadly your Ex will eventually show their true colors. However, they will “love bomb” and brag about the relationship in the beginning. Be sure to block your Ex’s profile and don’t be tempted to “check up” on them.
- Shift your attention. Technology and mutual friends make it easy to collect information about the new couple. Redirect your efforts to more constructive activities. If you’ve blocked your Ex and his/her new supply, these posts won’t show up on your social media time line to taunt you. If you all have mutual friends who, after the breakup, are leaning toward or loyal to your Ex, respectfully “unfriend” them. It might seem petty, at first, but keep in mind those people can be feeding your Ex information about you. It will be more peaceful, in the long run. If they ask you why you did that, just say something like, “out of respect for everyone’s privacy, including mine” and smile and go on with your life. True friends will understand and harbor no ill will…petty ones, will make a big deal about it…
- Seek support. Surround yourself with family and friends who encourage you through difficult times. Talk with a counselor who specializes in relationships. Find an objective friend to speak with — you know, one that won’t want to Exact revenge on your behalf or be tempted to stalk their social media posts for you.
- Restore trust. Your Experiences with your Ex may have affected your ability to trust others. Take baby steps to build up your comfort levels. Chat with a new neighbor. Invite a friend to attend the opera with you if you usually went with your Ex. Talk with a trusted therapist about steps to take to help restore trust.
- Go out on a date. It may take time to make a lasting connection, but you can enjoy a pleasant evening out right now. Join an online dating site and meet someone for coffee. OR, even better, take yourself out on a date! Just try not to frequent a place you and your Ex went to frequently, as he/she may be there with their new partner.
- Start a new project. Throw yourself into a new adventure. Sign up for scuba diving classes or plan a vacation in Finland. Some people start a new hobby or interest, like, say, blogging.
Steps to Take with Your Children
- Clarify the situation. Your Ex may marry the first woman they meet or date around for years. Wait until they announce their engagement to think about how someone will adapt to being a new stepparent. However, clarify that your Ex will be there with their new significant other and the children. Voice if you are not comfortable with the Ex leaving the children alone with the new person, because they, nor you, do not know them. Be objective, not voicing out of jealousy. Tell your Ex you would extend the same courtesy.
- Set boundaries. If communications with your Ex and their partner tend to backfire, restrict your interactions to essentials. Coordinate on matters like child care and dental appointments, but keep your private life to yourself.
- Prioritize issues. With so many changes to deal with, concentrate on the major concerns. Ensure that your children are safe and observing basic etiquette.Encourage communication with your children. Tell them to limit what they say about the couple personally, but that you need to know about life threatening information or worries that [the children] might have.
- Respect different household rules. You and your Ex may follow your own distinctive rules when it comes to how you run your households. Provide as much consistency as possible and be tolerant about personal preferences. Also, be sure you all are following any court-set custody requirements and document EVERYTHING!
- Show compassion. Take into account that the three of you and your children are facing an unfamiliar situation. Respect each person’s opinions and empathize with their struggles. Advise each child to give it some time and give the new partner a fair chance. If the child asks you “how long,” tell them at least three months. It’s only fair. This also affords you that same opportunity — and to follow your own advice!
- Spend one-on-one time. Your children may need extra love and attention when your Ex brings a new partner into the home. Plan separate activities with each child so you have the opportunity to answer their questions and talk on a deeper level. Be positive and cheerful. Ask their teachers and other adults to inform you about any changes they notice.
- Communicate directly. Talk to your Ex and their new partner instead of relaying messages through your children. Protecting your kids is worth any inconvenience. Also, you get correct information if adults talk to adults.
You can find peace and still extend your good wishes to your Ex and their new partner. Be honest about your feelings and make smart choices that create greater love and fulfillment in your own life.