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Old 12-04-2013, 11:36 PM
confused88 confused88 is offline
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Default Being Supportive Vs. Letting Negative Things Into our R-ship

I just need advice on how to be loving and supportive of my bf wanting to be friends with his ex wife who hates me? How can I feel okay with him including her wants/needs in his decisions, when those decisions seem to be harmful to our r-ship? We are both new to the Poly concept, me more so than him as he had multiple sexual partners in the past (swinging with his now ex wife), so I am trying to do my best to understand and work on my side of things. He considers himself Poly but we are exclusive for the time being, I have always identified as Mono but am interested in exploring other options. He only wants a friendship with his ex-wife, she may or may not be interested in that with him, but nobody wants anything more then that. I just don't know how to align my hurt and confusion over him still wanting her in his life, when I feel like she has done nothing but be selfish, controlling, hurtful and mean for the last year. I have tried to be the bigger person over and over and accommodate his feelings, but I don't know if I am just setting myself up for more of the same with her or if by trying to love and support his choices, it will make our r-ship stronger and eventually she will be a positive force in our lives instead of a negative one.

Last edited by confused88; 12-04-2013 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:04 AM
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alibabe_muse alibabe_muse is offline
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I can't really put a take on this as there is a lot of background information missing. For example, do they have kids together? Was he seeing you before the divorce? How long ago did they divorce in comparison with him seeing you? Do you have kids with him?

And whether I know that information or not, I think that is his choice to be friends with her or not. It isn't your place to control who he wants in his life as long as your needs are being met by him.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:08 AM
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Marcus Marcus is offline
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Originally Posted by confused88 View Post
I just need advice on how to be loving and supportive of my bf wanting to be friends with his ex wife who hates me?
How has her "hating" you impacted you in the past?
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:26 AM
bookbug bookbug is offline
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I can understand your bf wanting to derive some kind of stable relationship with his ex rather than stay stuck in the trauma of the divorce. It is probably his way of moving forward from that time. The other thing is they were married and he loves her even if they ultimately proved incompatible. The love can be compartmentalized and made unreachable, but I have never known anyone (sane) to completely un-love someone. So wanting a positive relationship - a friendship - with her reframes emotions beyond the pain.

All of that said, you absolutely should not have to personally contend with her negativity. If I were in your position, I simply would choose not to interact with her in any way, shape or form.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:41 AM
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SchrodingersCat SchrodingersCat is offline
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Originally Posted by confused88 View Post
I just need advice on how to be loving and supportive of my bf wanting to be friends with his ex wife who hates me? How can I feel okay with him including her wants/needs in his decisions, when those decisions seem to be harmful to our r-ship?
Can you give an example of a decision that you believe has harmed your relationship?

Quote:
I just don't know how to align my hurt and confusion over him still wanting her in his life, when I feel like she has done nothing but be selfish, controlling, hurtful and mean for the last year.
Focus on your needs, and how you feel when those needs are not met. Rather than labeling her as selfish, controlling, and hurtful, what behaviours has she exhibited that have failed to meet your need for consideration, autonomy, and compassion?

Quote:
I have tried to be the bigger person over and over and accommodate his feelings, but I don't know if I am just setting myself up for more of the same with her or if by trying to love and support his choices, it will make our r-ship stronger and eventually she will be a positive force in our lives instead of a negative one.
Love and relationships are not a competition. If you think of yourself as the bigger person, it means you're thinking of him or her as the lesser person. People will sense that you have this attitude and react accordingly.

Again, your description of her is all about judging who she is, and not at all about what she actually does. Presumably it's more than she's just his ex-wife and you hate her on that principle, so there must be specific actions she's done that have stimulated this anger in you. If you can empathize with what her needs and feelings are, and see the world through her eyes, then there's a good chance the anger will evaporate. Not be buried or ignored, but simply become nonexistent.

As for whether meeting his needs for love and support will help your relationship grow stronger, I pretty much guarantee it. But you don't want to meet his needs at the expense of your own, so clearly identifying what your needs are and working together on some strategies to get those needs met will benefit you all.
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Old 12-05-2013, 03:41 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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I'm sorry you hurt.

What do you want to see happen ultimately?
  • She goes away?
  • She stops hating you?
  • He stops wanting to be friendly with his ex?
  • Something else?

It's hard to give feedback when I don't know what desired outcome you are aiming for.

If the desired outcome is "I do loving and supportive behavior toward my BF" and he is doing something you think is harmful? Maybe rather than struggle to be supportive about something you don't want to support you could call it your personal limit reached:
"No. I cannot support that at this time like THAT."
The thing then is to determine if it is a HARD limit that will not change in time. Or a SOFT limit that could change in time if conditions are met and articulate what those conditions might be. See if negotiation can be had or not.

What is the behavior being done? Other than him considering her when he makes.... WHAT choices?
  • His own choices that affect only him?
  • The couple's choices that affect both (you + him)?

HOW is his behavior harmful to you? You don't specify.

Could rephrasing what you wrote help you clarify details so people can try to help you better? Or help you yourself find possible solutions? Here's my take. (I could be wrong.)
I just need advice on how to (demonstrate loving and supportive behavior) toward my BF. What blocks me from doing that is...
  • I don't know what behavior he wants?
  • What is being asked of me is not reasonable?
  • What is being asked of me is not rational?
  • What is being asked of me could hurt me or another person?
  • I am not willing to do the behavior he wants at this time? Because ___ blocks my willingness.
  • I am not able to do the behavior he wants at this time? Because ____ blocks my ability.

I feel like she has done nothing but be selfish, controlling, hurtful and mean for the last year to (me? Him? Both?) in her _____ behavior. I do not like that behavior.
  • Until she stops/starts doing _______?
  • Until he stops/starts doing _______?
  • Until I stop/start doing _______?

So I can be free TO feel/think/do _____?
So I can be free FROM feeling/thinking/doing ______?

... then I cannot change my willingness. I cannot change my ability.
  • If ____ were to happen, then I could be more willing to demonstrate loving/supportive behavior toward my BF.
  • If ____ were to happen, then I could be more able to demonstrate loving/supportive behavior toward my BF.

Could you clarify a bit more and fill in blanks?

Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 12-05-2013 at 03:48 AM.
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Old 12-06-2013, 07:32 PM
confused88 confused88 is offline
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[QUOTE=GalaGirl;252116]I'm sorry you hurt.

What do you want to see happen ultimately?
  • She goes away?
  • She stops hating you?
  • He stops wanting to be friendly with his ex?
  • Something else?

Honestly any of these things would be better then the situation now. My feeling is that she was only claiming to want to keep a connection with my bf because he has been very generous with the divorce, making sure she was financially set, etc. I do not feel like she is genuinely concerned for him or his happiness (and she has actually stated this to him in). So if she moves on with her life and chooses to have no relationship with my bf, I honestly feel it would be better for him in the long run. I have the same feeling about him stopping wanting to be friends with her, if it can be a positive healthy thing, then I am much more open to it, but as of now it's a very negative taxing one on both he and I. And while I don't ever think she will be very accepting of me or our relationship, I think I could deal with them being friends if she showed me respect and civility, without that I don't see how I could be okay with this.




The thing then is to determine if it is a HARD limit that will not change in time. Or a SOFT limit that could change in time if conditions are met and articulate what those conditions might be. See if negotiation can be had or not.

I think for me this would be a soft limit, as hopefully circumstances will change. Right now the thing I am having a hard time supporting is us splitting his family with her (his siblings and parents are very close and do dinner weekly, him and his ex wife do not have kids). He and I have very differing opinions on how this should be handled. I am of the mindset that while I understand she may need time to get used to me and me and her ex husband together, she should be taking that time to deal with it herself, instead of getting his family stuck in the middle. As it is, they want their son at all holidays and events, and have been very welcoming to me. They do not mind his ex continuing to come around as they have known her a long time, but they believe she should not be causing issues. Right now since she tells my bf she can't handle being around me, and he doesn't want to attend family things without me, we are splitting everything up and each thing has been a battle. Am I wrong to feel like she should take time for herself if she needs it, but that I shouldn't be punished by not being able to attend things because she doesn't want me there ? That's been the biggest struggle lately.




What is the behavior being done? Other than him considering her when he makes.... WHAT choices?

See choices above, he claims he does not want to take his family away from her, and he knows she won't come around if I am there. He claims it is only temporary and he doesn't want to be a dick to her when he thinks she is working on things. I end up feeling very left out, alone, and less important in his life. Things would be easier if his ex had acted better during their divorce, she lied to mutual friends about he and I, lied to her family about the situation and was all around nasty. That makes it harder for me to feel like I am sacrificing my time with his family for her benefit.


  • I don't know what behavior he wants?
  • What is being asked of me is not reasonable?
  • What is being asked of me is not rational?
  • What is being asked of me could hurt me or another person?
  • I am not willing to do the behavior he wants at this time? Because ___ blocks my willingness.
  • I am not able to do the behavior he wants at this time? Because ____ blocks my ability.

I feel like what is being asked of me is not reasonable. I have been supportive and loving towards him during the entire divorce process, trying to empathize with his ex when I could and just be there for him. Now I am feeling like I am being asked for more on top of all of that. His family is not happy about him splitting things with her and I feel like I end up getting some of the brunt of that from them, even though I have no problem being around her and she is the one unwilling to be around me. I feel kind of stuck and just trying to handle it the best way I can.



  • If ____ were to happen, then I could be more willing to demonstrate loving/supportive behavior toward my BF.

    If my bf was able to tell his ex that while he does care about her and wants to maintain a friendship, that he can't let her choice to not be around me affect his choice to bring me around his family. That if she is not ready then maybe she needs to take some time for herself and come around when she is, that she will always be welcome.

    OR If his ex could make the choice on her own to stop putting him and his family in the middle, in order to deal with her own issues on her own. Or by realizing that her unwillingness to be around me is causing problems for everyone involved, and make the choice to attend family events that I am at and work through things.

  • If ____ were to happen, then I could be more able to demonstrate loving/supportive behavior toward my BF.

I feel like if either of these things could happen it would make it much easier for me to be loving and supportive of my bf. I feel as if both she and he are being selfish with this situation, and while I expect that from her (though I would hope for more) that it is hard to deal with from him. He claims he is doing the best thing for him, and while I try to believe that and relate to him on it, it still ends up feeling like maintaining any type or relationship with her is worth the risk of us not making it. That is a tough way to feel when this is the man I am trying to build a life and future with. I guess I am trying to see if there's anything I can do to make things easier on myself, I don't want to be unhappy, upset or feel hurt, but with how things are now I end up feeling those things every time this subject affects me/us. I don't want to be selfish, or mean spirited or petty, I am really trying to do the right thing for me and my relationship with my boyfriend, but I kind of feel like the bad guy. I guess I am just looking for guidance on how to get through this transitional period, if I am being unfair in how I want things handled, or if there need to be adjustments made.

Thank you all for your help, I am trying, but feel like I am failing

Last edited by confused88; 12-06-2013 at 07:35 PM.
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  #8  
Old 12-07-2013, 12:12 AM
GalaGirl GalaGirl is offline
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Thank you for coloring in the picture a bit more. Again, I'm sorry you are dealing with all this.

You explain your opinions... and just mention that you have different opinions. How does BF want to handle it? Why does that method not serve you well?

You are not unreasonable to want civil behavior. It is not selfish, mean spirited, or petty to want gatherings to be peaceful and not minefields.

But all of you (even you) seem unwilling to deal with her behavior direct and the result is that she leaks all over the place with her UGH. Being compassionate is not being a doormat. Being compassionate is being kind, but firm and seeking to heal the hurts. If she continues to leak all over the place, this is keeping it in the stuck. Not moving it forward to ALL of you can heal your post divorce hurts -- her included. I do not see how allowing her to use everyone else as a punching bag helps ALL of you heal from divorce hurts.

Your bottom line seems to be these...

Quote:
1) If my bf was able to tell his ex that while he does care about her and wants to maintain a friendship, that he can't let her choice to not be around me affect his choice to bring me around his family. That if she is not ready then maybe she needs to take some time for herself and come around when she is, that she will always be welcome.
In other words, set a limit for tolerance with her conduct and maintain a boundary by holding her accountable when she crosses the line.

What blocks his "ABLE" here? That you and he don't agree where the line IS? Have you talked about the behaviors and where the line you draw together lies then?

Is he doing his method of handling it? For how long will the method be employed before you agree it did not work? Was that limit set?

Have you asked him to please consider doing your method next? Have you asked him if if he would be ok if YOU do this if he has not by X date? Have you asked him if he would be ok if you ask someone else to please do this (ex: his parents?)

Because YOU are at limit and can't "let it ride" for longer? Could keep negotiating here so your needs are met.

Quote:
2) OR If his ex could make the choice on her own to stop putting him and his family in the middle, in order to deal with her own issues on her own.
Does she know this is wanted? Who would you prefer tell her this/do this boundary setting?

Quote:
3) Or by realizing that her unwillingness to be around me is causing problems for everyone involved, and make the choice to attend family events that I am at and work through things.
Pick one --

You seem to want to go. So... I think you could decide to attend gatherings you want to attend and let her deal with herself.

If she happens to say something mean to you, you could say something like
"You seem hurt. I am sorry. Is there something I am doing in my behavior I could change to help you be less hurt? When you do/say _____? That is hurtful to me. Could you please be willing to refrain from doing/saying ____ to me at this family gathering we are at right now so the gathering can be peaceful? I am willing to set a separate date and time to work things out with you if my behaviors are causing you hardship."
And let everyone stare if they need to stare -- but at least it's moving it forward and expecting her to own her conduct.

Everyone here seems to be too... meek and mild. You don't have to be a total beast to the woman, but neither does everyone have to be so...passive! Like avoiding having to do the work of conflict resolution because they secretly hope it just goes away on its own or because they are not confident in their conflict resolution skills. Maybe both?

What blocks you from saying to her something like

"Look, we don't have to be best friends or anything. But for the sake of peace and healing for all, could you be willing to work things out with me at a separate time and stop doing _____ behavior at family gatherings so the gatherings could be less awkward?"
Or some variant of that?

Quote:
I feel like if either of these things could happen it would make it much easier for me to be loving and supportive of my bf
Ok. That is the goal. One of those things happening.

So how do you see yourself getting through this and arranging your own behavior to match the goal? And helping out so that one of those three things comes to pass?

Do you see yourself taking the initiative here or would you prefer someone else to? Once you decide that, you could think about how to organize your efforts at this time.
  • If taking leadership yourself -- what you want to say.
  • If asking someone else to intervene -- what you want to say.


This situation sounds very skewed.

Baby steps... but go knowing that if you ask someone else to intervene and they don't by X time? Plan B may very well be YOU stepping up to the plate if you want to see some changes and talking to her yourself. Plan C could be you stop seeing your BF til this hooha is resolved. Not break up, but stop seeing him. You don't have to stand in crossfire. It is not healthy for you. Please take care of you first.

I mean this kindly, ok?

You don't have to be selfish -- meet ALL your own needs and screw everyone else. But you also don't have to be selfless -- meet ALL everyone else's needs and screw yourself.

You could be self full -- and seek to meet most of own needs as well as most of the needs of others in a balanced way. See if that serves better.

Hang in there!
Galagirl

Last edited by GalaGirl; 12-07-2013 at 12:49 AM.
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