When you find new love after a divorce, your ex and your new partner will eventually meet. Without proper preparation, this introduction may be incredibly awkward at best, and devastating at worst. However, if you’re co-parenting children with your ex, he/she has the right to know this new person who will now be interacting with the children. How do you handle this potentially difficult moment with grace?
Give fair notice
When one of you starts a new relationship, it will take a little time for the other to get used to it, no matter who initiated the divorce. Surprising your ex by showing up with your new partner is a recipe for disaster, not to mention unfair. Start by gently informing your ex in advance that you’re seeing someone new, that it’s serious, and that you feel they should meet. Be sensitive and gracious, and answer any questions honestly. Once you’ve broken the news, ask your ex when would be a good time to set up a meeting.
Meet in a neutral setting
Avoid making the introductions at either of your homes, as this could make one or the other feel at a disadvantage. Instead, choose a neutral spot that is public yet quiet—for example, a park or a coffee shop. Plan to keep this first meeting brief; having a meal together might be awkward if the introductions don’t go well at first. If everyone is hitting it off, you can always suggest grabbing lunch or a drink to extend the meeting.
Avoid unrealistic expectations
Don’t impose unfair expectations on either your new partner or your ex-spouse to accept the other. If you are co-parenting, you’ll have to find a way to get along amicably for the children’s sake, but there is no rule that says your ex and your new partner must be friends. Take a hands-off approach and allow friendships to grow naturally.
A little awkwardness may yet be unavoidable when your ex and your partner first meet, but showing sensitivity and respect can go a long way toward smoothing over those rough first moments and opening the door for a peaceful coexistence.