Q. I’ve been dating this guy, “Steven,” for almost a year and a half. Prior to meeting me, he had a child, “Adam,” with his ex-girlfriend. She ended up cheating on him and they broke up shortly after Adam turned 1, and he’s 5 now. Adam is shared between both of their houses — more with her than him — but whenever she drops him off at Steven’s place and I’m there, she gives me really mean glances and won’t even speak to me.
At first I thought, “Alright, I’m the new woman in Steven’s life. She has a reason to be upset if she still has feelings for him.” But as time went on, she wouldn’t even ease up just even a tiny bit. Things actually got worse with her texting Steven to see if I was there before dropping Adam off.
Steven recommended requesting her as a friend on
Facebook just so I can break the ice and try to be on better terms with his son’s mother. When I did so, I sent along a message stating: “I know we haven’t really got along but I’d really like to be friends with you, just for the sake of Adam and Steven.” She accepted my request but when I went onto her timeline, it was just full of really hateful things directed at me (Not being paranoid, she mentioned my name . . . a lot). Steven doesn’t have Facebook so he wasn’t aware of her mean-spirited comments.
I don’t know what to do, I need to be nice for the sake of Adam and Steven, but she is driving me batty with how mean she’s being. I get that I’m the girlfriend and I might be stepping on her toes a bit, but I love both Steven and Adam very much and have no plans of leaving. However, her bad attitude is shaking my confidence. What can I do so that she’ll maybe even warm up to me a little?
Playing Nice, Mass.
A. Don’t look at her Facebook page, smile when you see her, and let Steven be the communicator. There’s no reason for you to have to reach out to this woman right now. It’s Steven’s job to be the go-between, and you can’t break any more ice.
Instead of brainstorming ways to warm her up, talk to Steven about how this will work if she continues to freeze you out. Will this affect your ability to get close as a couple? What will happen if you decide to move in together? And — are you missing something here? Is there a reason she’s so hostile toward you even though they broke up years ago? Find out whether Steven has a plan for keeping the peace as this relationship moves forward.
I hate to say it, but sometimes ex relationships are just like this — in perpetuity. Sometimes they don’t get better, and people just learn to work around one another, occasionally scowling and eye-rolling and playing nice for the kids. As you talk to Steven about managing this discomfort, ask yourself whether you can be happy in the relationship, even if it means a lifetime of occasional dirty looks and stepping on toes.
I suspect some fact-fudging here. If Adam’s mom is really the one who cheated, this scenario seems backward. Steven should be the angry, spiteful one and Mom should have tail between legs, begging forgiveness. Or maybe she just resents LW’s presence as it reminds her of her shackles of parenting.
There is nothing you can do and your boyfriend gave you bad advice regarding Facebook. This is one of those things you can’t control and are just going to have to deal with as long as you’re with him. She may never come around.
Having been there, you do need to interact even if it’s just to call and say “can you leave the soccer shirt on the front porch?” You’ll never be besties or even friends but you both have a shared interest in the child’s welfare. As others have said, keep it polite and civil (may not be able to manage cordial) and never badmouth her in front of the child. Also, you may want to think very hard about whether you want this situation for the long term. It probably won’t get better — and there are graduations, baptisms, etc.
She doesn’t sound very mature, so I doubt the situation is going to improve any time soon. I’d be more — much more! — concerned for the impact on the little boy. Keep things cordial, but you and your BF should keep an eye on how this is impacting his son.
Be polite, make yourself scarce when she drops off Adam and stop looking at her FB page. Once she gets a boyfriend, it will probably be fine.
This is really on Steven, not you. It’s his ex and his child. It’s great that you are standing by him and that you are providing a supportive environment for Adam. No doubt that as he grows older, Adam is going to become very aware of his mother’s attitude and behavior. He will feel caught between his mom and possibly his new stepmom if you and Steven decide to get married. That isn’t a good place to be for any child.
I don’t think it’s about you and Steve. It’s more about her maternal jealousy in sharing Adam with another woman. The one thing she could always control completely was the relationship with her son. Now you get to be the “nice guy” while she has to parent. She’s marking her territory. She’ll get tired of it soon when she realizes you have her son’s best interests at heart.
Instead of getting mad, just pity her. She clearly has no life.
Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Mere-dith Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com.