Anyone who has been married or in a long-term relationship may have encountered this problem: your ex just will not go away and get out of your life as thoroughly as you would like them to. While you are in the relationship, it is ideal for your mate and your family to have a good, fairly close relationship. However, what happens when your relationship ends? What happens to her shopping trips with your sister, or his Sunday Night Football games with your brother? What do you do when your ex is lurking around on Facebook, commenting on your niece's dance recital photos, asking your cousin how her new baby is doing, or swapping inside jokes with your dad? This is particularly troublesome in divorce situations, when your family was, at some point, actually their family, and your family members weren't privy to all of the things that made you hate this individual to the point where you wanted to relationship to end.
These actions by themselves are a major annoyance to you, but then when you start dating again and develop a serious relationship with someone else, the problem becomes tenfold. I am actually experiencing this problem right now, and am somewhat at a loss as to how to address it. For one, no matter how serious I believe my relationship with my beau (of 4 years) to be, we are still at the status of boyfriend and girlfriend, not engaged or married, so the seriousness of our relationship could conceivably (if not realistically) be questioned. Perhaps my family is reluctant to completely cut ties with this person in favor of someone who, as far as they are concerned, could be gone next week. Now, I am exaggerating a bit; I know my family realizes that, after 4 years, my beau is more than just a passing fling to me, but I do think there may be something to be said about the "official-ness" of our relationship (or lack thereof). Part of me feels like such a confrontation would be premature, and perhaps I need to just wait it out and the problem will take care of itself.
Secondly, I think a major driving factor behind all this is my ex himself. From what I can assess on Facebook, my siblings, cousins and friends aren't really reaching out to him; he is the one lurking and interjecting himself into their lives. (My parents are a bit of a different matter
; I am convinced that they are pretty much clueless as to how anything makes me feel, and often go out of their way (in my mind) to still do things for and interact with my ex, presumably for the sake of my kids, but who actually knows). I really think he does this on purpose, to assert his perceived "status" among the members of my family, as opposed to my beau's new and growing relationship with my family. I know what you all are thinking: Just say something to your ex and tell him to leave your family alone. Yes, loved ones, I have already thought about this, but it is one of those situations where as soon as you let someone know that something they are doing annoys you, it only prompts them to childishly do it more because their mission is being accomplished. I feel like the moment I say something, I will just get that shitty little smug laugh that makes me want to punch him in the face, and my Facebook notifications from him will go through the roof. I just don't want to give him that satisfaction. I personally don't deal with his family at all by my own choice, but perhaps because I was never much attached to them in the first place.
What I cannot understand is how the ex's current boo-thang tolerates all of this. If I were her, I would want him to be focused on establishing a new life and connections with me and my family, not trying to hold onto the family of a chick who kicked him to the curb and going out of his way to remain a relevant factor among her people. If I saw my beau chumming it up with his ex's family members, I would be highly irritated and would have probably said something to him myself. But, for whatever reason, whether it's because she doesn't care or because he doesn't care that she cares (knowing him, probably the latter), her protests (or lack thereof) have had no impact on the situation.
All I know is that something must be done, and I have the uncomfortable feeling that it is not going to be pleasant or pretty when it does go down. I am trying to figure out a way to handle this tactfully and effectively in a way that doesn't make me seem like the Petty Bitch. After all, I do still have children with this person, so some level of civility must be maintained, but I also must protect my beau's feelings and usher in the New World Order in which he and I are (or eventually will be) a new family unit, and demand respect for that status. The fact that people have not figured this out on their own and changed their behavior accordingly already tells me that this will be a confrontation, not a conversation. Or perhaps I am blowing this out of proportion, and all that is needed is for me to shed a soft, gentle light on the situation. Or perhaps we just need to adjust our reaction to the situation and see it for what it really is: a pathetic, displaced man who is outside in the cold trying to peer in, and hasn't quite figured out that he just need to keep it moving.
For now I am just biding my time, plotting my strategy, and waiting for the appropriate
circular stone-encrusted metal
object with which to strike. But I still wonder... am I just overreacting? Is my ex stepping over the line? Is my family stepping over the line by not drawing a line? I just don't want this to be a problem that gets dragged into my new life and festers as resentment toward my family,or becomes a big ugly blow up that levels everything in its path. I just want my ex to go away and get his own new life and family, and leave mine the hell alone.
Labels: dating, divorce, family