I'm a recently divorced father. While it has been an emotional roller coaster, all in all the divorce has been about as amiable and civil as one could hope for.
My problem is that I'm starting to think it has gone too well. My ex-wife and I have stayed close friends, to the point where she now seeks me out as a confidant as she enters the dating scene. Our whole marriage went out the door because of her bouts of infidelity, and as much as we tried to repair things, trust was never rebuilt and things didn't work out. She has also lost many of her friends due to our situation (i.e., she slept with their husbands), so I'm her last shoulder to cry on.
I get saddled with teary late-night calls from her when she gets dumped by the boyfriend of the week. Then I get the details of how wonderful the new boyfriend of the week is only two days after said dumping. This is hurtful, because these are the same experiences and emotions I experienced during our marriage.
I need some help finding a decent way to distance myself from her without being an ass. I've tried the honest way by just explaining the situation and how I don't feel comfortable being her confidant anymore, but that just pisses her off. Since we share custody of our two children, we've agreed that we want to know if "significant" others enter each other's lives. I do want to know about anyone the children may be exposed to, but not in such detail.
I don't want to make her an enemy, but I can't go on being the person she runs to. I'm moving on myself (or at least trying to), and I spare her the details of any dating I do and only wish she would do the same. What should I do?
A bunch of years ago my mom died. My family was understandably devastated, but my dad seemed to bounce back with mind-boggling speed—within six months he was dating. Being a reasonable girl, I genuinely wanted him to be happy, but I was still having trouble dealing with the fact that the woman who gave birth to me was now locked in a box buried under six feet of New Jersey dirt. So I asked Daddy Dearest to please spare me his dating details until I was feeling less sensitive. That's all I asked—I didn't ask him to stay home and mourn, didn't try to make him feel guilty for going out—I just told him I wasn't ready to hear about it yet. But my dad can be a bit, um, I guess the word would be "insensitive." One night at dinner, he started regaling me with tales of his latest flirtation—a chick who I'd gone to motherfucking high school with! Though I wanted nothing more than to leap across the table and remove his vocal cords with my salad fork, I stayed cool and asked him once again to please shut his yap. He chuckled and kept yammering on. I had no choice but to bring out the big guns. I leaned forward and pulled up my left sleeve, revealing a large, colorful dragon that had been etched into my arm a few years prior. That shut him up. "What's that?" he finally stammered. "What does it look like?" I snapped. "Does it come off?" he asked. I swiped my thumb across my tongue and proceeded to rub my bicep furiously. "Oh, no! Looks like it's permanent!" I said with blatantly feigned surprise. We ate the rest of the meal in silence.
I realize that every other mook on the planet is carrying ink, but I also knew that seeing it on his eldest daughter would send Daddy-O into cardiac arrest, which was why I'd hid it from him for years. I only pulled it out when he needed a dose of tough love. I'm pleased to say that it worked like a charm. I'm willing to bet that your ex would not be remotely excited to hear about your dips in the dating pool. I say give her a dose of her own bullshit (even if you have to embellish or fabricate a little). She's completely unreasonable, horribly selfish, and borderline insane if she thinks you are an appropriate person to talk to about her new boyfriends. Screen your calls and feel no guilt.
Sticky situation with ex or current? Get ink from Dategirl. Write dategirl at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dategirl, c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western, Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.