How can I tell my ex about my new relationship without hurting her?

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Dear Sheila

I am a 55 year old divorced man. My ex and I were married for fifteen years and I have twin sons aged 14. The boys and I have a great relationship and things have been OK with their Mum since we separated two years ago. I spend alternate weekends with them and Wednesday nights. However I’ve now met someone else and want to introduce her to them. I’m concerned though that this is likely to upset their Mum who recently confided in me over text that she still has feelings for me. She doesn’t know I am with this new lady and I worry she will tell the boys not to see me. How should I handle this?

Don, Hampstead

Dear Don

Thank you for your letter, and it looks like your boys are enjoying a good relationship with you.

Introduction of new partners can be a minefield. Perhaps I can set out a few Do’s and Don’t’s!

You mention you have met someone else and I am wondering how long this relationship has been in existence. Do work out with your co parent a mutually agreed time that you would both consider a relationship to be strong enough to introduce to your children. It might be 4, 6, 8 months, you just need a protocol that you both agree.

You would need to let your co parent know before your children, so maybe this discussion about a protocol will help the boy’s mother think about the prospective of you being with someone else.  Don’t make your children the messengers for this!

Do be mindful that your children might be upset as this introduction will be confirmation that their parents are definitely not getting back together.  Children tend to want their parents to be together, they will be aware that their lives will be more complicated.

Do be careful that your sons don’t feel they have to protect and look after their mother and be the “men of the house’.

Don’t rush this as it will be counter productive.

Don’t put your new partner in a difficult position by wanting a quick introduction.

You worry that Mum will tell the boys not to see you but that’s why you should go slowly and let everyone get used to the idea and feel comfortable in their roles.  You might need to reiterate that the boys have one mum and that will never change.  You are all still a family of 4 with two boys and a mum and dad who live separately.

I hope that helps.


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