The Luv Doc: My Girlfriend Thinks It’s Weird
So much more than crazy, lust-fueled, Saturday night monkey sex followed by midmorning migas, mimosas, and a luxurious afternoon nap
Dear Luv Doc,
I have been divorced since 2016 and share custody of my 10-year-old daughter. Me and my ex went through a lot of couples counseling and have remained friends – not only for the sake of our daughter, but because we actually like each other. We just couldn't live together or maintain a healthy relationship. All that said, my girlfriend thinks it's weird that I am friends with my ex-wife and is insisting that I not have contact with my ex other than handovers of our daughter. Is she right or is she being unreasonable? If I was going to get back with my ex, I would have done so long ago, but she doesn't seem to think that matters.
– Divorced Dad
FIrst of all, let me say that I don't think it's weird that you are still friends with your ex. Rather, I think it's commendable that you and your ex managed to work out your problems amicably. Well done, sir! Good for you! Not only will that be good for your daughter in the long run, it's good for you and your ex as well. That said, just because you and your ex are happy as peas in a pod doesn't make your girlfriend's concerns unreasonable. After all, she can safely assume that at some time you and your ex had a functional relationship – one that worked well enough that you were both willing to go through a lot of counseling in order to try and save it.
On the one hand, that might make you seem like evolved, responsible people who realized they just aren't right for one another. On the other hand, one could easily assume that you and your ex are still too attracted to one another to let go and move on to a healthier relationship. More importantly, as I am sure you and your ex are aware, a successful long-term relationship involves so much more than crazy, lust-fueled, Saturday night monkey sex followed by midmorning migas, mimosas, and a luxurious afternoon nap. Even stitching together a modest series of one-night stands involves communication, cooperation, and a certain amount of commitment, but agreeing to exclusively procreate and cohabitate with someone for a functional eternity is a whole 'nother level. As the late great Bear Bryant used to say, "Football games are generally won by the boys with the greatest desire." The same could be said of happy, functional long-term relationships. You gotta have the want.
When your girlfriend sees the functional long-term relationship you and your ex have developed over the years, she mostly sees the desire. Imagine how unsettling that must be. Now granted, she may not see what's actually fueling that desire – like you and your ex's mutual love for your daughter or your genuine (nonsexual) affection for each other, but she knows that whatever it is, it's powerful and a threat to her intimacy with you. That concern, I think you can agree, is not unreasonable.
Therefore, you need to communicate to your girlfriend as best as you possibly can your motivations/desire for keeping an amicable relationship with your ex. Ideally, you will be able to do so in a way that doesn't make it sound "weird" or threatening to her intimacy with you. In other words, why should she not feel jealous of the time you spend with your ex that you're not spending with her? Keep in mind, she is very likely already sacrificing a certain amount of attention to your daughter – understandably – but why should she sacrifice it to your ex as well? Would you be OK with that? Or rather, what could someone say to you that would make you OK with that? If she doesn't have children of her own, this conversation isn't going to be easy, but as you well know, successful long-term relationships rarely are.