Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I’m having a lot of trouble dealing with my jealousy towards my boyfriend’s ex-wife.
They were together for seven years, married for two. He has two kids with her. She cheated on him and left him, but she texts him every day and still calls him to check up on the kids 24/7.
My boyfriend doesn’t want any more kids. I do, and I’m jealous she was able to give those things to him, and I can’t. When it’s his week to have the kids, she will always be there and go to the park with them and trick-or-treating with them.
She dislikes me and doesn’t want me around even though we have only been dating for a month.
I feel so jealous, and I don’t know how to handle it.
All the things I want, she gave him, and he doesn’t want those things again.
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There are two issues here. Let’s take a look at them separately.
I understand that it can be frustrating and intimidating that the ex-wife is in the picture. But they have two kids together. They have a seven-year history. You have only been dating for a month.
If you want to move forward with this relationship, you will have to accept that she’s going to be a part of his life.
With kids, there’s no way to avoid that. You need to be honest with yourself about how comfortable you would be longterm with the situation because she is not going anywhere.
Now, your boyfriend can undoubtedly set some boundaries that will make things more comfortable for everyone. But, it’s up to him to set them. You can certainly set your own limits, but you need to be clear on what will and won’t work for you in this relationship.
Regardless of how she may feel or act, pitting yourself against her is a bad idea.
You don’t want to contribute to any tension the kids may already feel between you. Further, consider that they may be doing things together like trick-or-treating or the park for the benefit of the kids. After I separated from my older son’s dad, I often was in situations with him — ballet recitals, trick-or-treating, birthday parties, etc. — because it was what was best for our son. We had to learn to peacefully co-parent even when we didn’t like each other very much.
There is a more significant issue here — he doesn’t want any more kids, and you do want kids.
You are not going to wish him into wanting the same things you want. Might he change his mind? Sure, but we have no way of knowing that. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people bank on their partner changing some fundamental part of their personality or plans for the future. They are almost always disappointed.
You have only been dating a month; slow your roll. Instead of focusing on how you want your boyfriend and his ex to change their behavior, figure out what you want in a longterm partner and take an honest look at whether or not this man fits that bill.
Date the person you want to be with, not the person you are hoping they will be one day.
This all boils down to boundaries (yours and his), honesty (with yourself and with him), and some perspective — those kids come first, and they always will.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Rainbow Moonstone, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xox