Ex is mad that I’m dating his friend. Carolyn Hax readers give advice. – Lifotravel



We asked readers to channel their inner Carolyn Hax and answer this question. Some of the best responses are below.

Dear Carolyn: My ex-husband “Jim” and I started dating in college, got married a few years later and divorced two years ago. The relationship lasted about 15 years. The divorce was a mutual decision, and we remain friends. I know he’s dated frequently since our divorce, while I haven’t as much because I was focusing on my career, and I just haven’t met anyone interesting.

A couple of weeks ago, I spontaneously decided to go to Las Vegas for a long weekend. At the gate, I bumped into “Ben,” one of Jim’s roommates from college. Ben asked me where Jim was, and I explained about the divorce. We sat together on the flight and ended up spending the whole weekend together and had so much fun. I know from Jim that Ben is something of player and figured it would “stay in Vegas.” When I got home and uploaded travel photos to my Instagram, Jim messaged me to ask about Ben and if I went with him. I said it was a coincidence, we met on the flight and then just hung out. He said that was too bad, since I haven’t dated anyone in so long.

To my surprise Ben contacted me later and asked me out. We’ve gone out three times since then, and I replied to Jim’s message saying I spoke too soon. Jim called and asked what I meant. When I told him, he was mad and claimed I betrayed him by chasing a relationship with one of his old friends. I was shocked, because I didn’t think it was a big deal. Jim said Ben had feelings for me during college, and I was the reason they drifted apart. I casually asked Ben if he really had feelings for me back in college, and he confirmed it.

I’d like to maintain a good relationship with Jim, as we still have many mutual friends. Do I have to give up dating Ben to do so?

— To Date Or Not To Date

To Date Or Not To Date: Let me rephrase your question: should I avoid potential happiness to please my ex-husband? Wanting your ex to feel comfortable as you both move on is a kind instinct. It is also, in my opinion, a misguided one. When I got engaged I decided to tell my friendly ex so they would “hear it from me” instead of from our many mutual friends. It was a terrible idea. It forced him to have a real-time response and gave the (mistaken) impression that my decision was in any way his business. He handled it with much more class than your former sweetie but it’s hard to say who felt more uncomfortable in the aftermath. When he got married I was grateful to have heard it through the grapevine!

Your ex has no grounds to have an opinion on this. That said, feelings are messy and not always logical. It sounds like you could do both of you a favor by putting a little distance between yourself and your ex. There’s no good outcome for following each other on social media or messaging each other about new partners. I understand that he instigated the interaction, but given his proven immaturity, I highly recommend that you block him on Instagram. It’s not a hostile act, just a sensible one. There was also no need to keep your ex updated as your relationship with Ben changed. Jim is owed humanity from you but nothing else. Answer any future inquiries with “thank you, but I’m not looking for input on this.” Or just don’t reply.

To Date Or Not To Date: Coming from the perspective of someone who is in the process of divorcing a man I was with for 14 years and it’s been over a year after the initial separation: it’s genuinely odd that two years post-divorce you informed your ex about three dates with this other man. (I don’t answer direct questions from my soon-to-be-ex about what I’m doing or who I’m with, and we’re co-parents.)

Are you in denial about how much his active dating life made you feel insecure given that you felt the need to let him know immediately after your first notable connection with someone else? You owe him nothing, your mutual acquaintances should have settled into the new dynamic by now, and you need to sit with how much you have yet to get over this divorce.

To Date Or Not To Date: Let the aspects of your relationship with Ben that are visible to Jim be as boring/unremarkable as possible which includes not putting on a “hiding” show and Jim’s focus will wander quickly enough. Once that happens, you’ll be able to parse if your interest in Ben constitutes genuine interpersonal chemistry, or if it’s just the allure of replaying sexy college-style drama. Either way, leave Jim out of it if you want that friendship to endure.

— Triangles Are Seductive But Pointy!

To Date Or Not To Date: Most people will tell you that you’ve been divorced for two years, and you’re both adults so go for it. If your ex’s feelings are hurt, too bad. I disagree. The fact that you hesitate implies that those 15 years were meaningful, it implies that you care about your ex’s feelings, and that you see external and internal conflict ahead. My advice: Take it slow, don’t overshare, and be honest with yourself at every step.

Every week, we ask readers to answer a question submitted to Carolyn Hax’s live chat or email. Read last week’s installment here. New questions are typically posted on Fridays, with a Monday deadline for submissions. Responses are anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself and are edited for length and clarity.

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