Emotional Fitness

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10 Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Ex

Usually if someone is treated with respect he or she will return the favor

Most of us have at least one former partner in our lives. Sometimes these relationships are smooth and sometimes the lines between ex and ex-tremely bothersome may be blurred. Here are some tips to help you make that relationship work without hurting your current partner.

  1. Be patient. There's usually uncomfortable fallout from most relationships so give your ex (and yourself) a little space to make appropriate adjustments.
  2. Seek balance. If you and your ex have kids together you will be connected with this person for a long time. Putting the kids (both old and new) first will help you keep your priorities straight.
  3. Don't threaten, name call or belittle. Having a mature and respectful relationship with your ex is healthy for you, for them and for your current relationship. If you are not in a place where you can be emotionally stable around (or about) your ex then communicate via e-mail or through a third party until you (or they) have calmed down.
  4. Use soothing words and tones. Getting upset and angry is not going to help you get your point across. Remember that there are probably some hurt feelings lingering so the more gentle you are (without becoming a doormat) the more likely you will arrive at a mutually beneficial decision.
  5. Don't talk business at family gatherings. If you see your ex at a family event, be polite, but don't try to talk about "relationship business" issues. These discussions are best kept private and between the two of you.
  6. Don't use the kids as leverage. One of the most damaging things people can do it to put their kids between themselves and the ex. This makes everyone uncomfortable and will make your relationship with your children and current partner more difficult.
  7. Don't flaunt your new partner. If you have found someone new (or when you do) keep them out of the "business dealings" with your ex. These kinds of triangles can be painful for both the old and the new partner. It will make your life more difficult if one or the other sets up roadblocks because he or she is feeling insecure or angry.
  8. Don't put down your ex in front of others. If you speak in a derogatory fashion about someone you once loved, those close to you may fear that you will talk about them in the same manner. If you do it in front of the kids, it is considered a form of child abuse.
  9. Be friends (it's okay). As long as your behavior is appropriate and you don't favor your ex over your children or current partner, being friends with an ex can be a good thing. It shows your kids how mature adults should behave and helps both families deal with the inevitable speed-bumps that occur along life's highway.
  10. A little distance is also good. Make sure you set proper boundaries with your ex and are open with your new partner about how you want to deal with your previous relationship. Having everyone on the same page will prevent destructive events from occurring.

Letting uncomfortable feelings about a past relationship rule your life is such a waste of energy. Holding on to anger and resentment will only serve to bring everyone down. Learn your lessons and focus on the good that's yet to come.

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Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, columnist, and radio host. His latest book is The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.

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