Advice & Help

Your Partner’s Toxic and Horrible “Ex” — 6 Ways to Cope

Most of us have had failed relationships and so at some point have been the ‘Ex’. Some persons opt to remain single, while most move on to other relationships. There are some, however, who have morphed into “Exzillas” and are hell-bent on preventing their Ex from moving on and finding happiness with someone else.

For some of us, we wish that sometimes the past would just stay in the past, but sometimes this just isn’t possible. When you’re in a relationship with someone, it is not just with them but you are also connecting your life with their family and sometimes with some friends, but it can be tricky if there are people in that group who your partner has a complicated relationship with, like an Ex.

If your partner and their Ex have children together, if one pays alimony to the other one, or own joint property, then they are likely to be stuck interacting with each other long after the romantic relationship is dead and buried. If the divorce/separation was mutual and amicable, then it might not be too awful, but in all honesty, how often are break-ups truly mutual and amicable? Nevertheless, you will have to resign yourself to the fact that they’re going to be in each other’s lives for a long time.

When the Ex who keeps intruding into your current reality is yours, dealing with them is one thing. They are your problem to deal with, and you are pretty much free to handle things however you see fit. But when it is your partner’s Ex making an unbearable appearance in your life, it can be a much stickier situation – because you are not in control. And if the Ex in question is a horrible, toxic nightmare, guess what? Your life is going to be a nightmare too.

So, if your partner is still connected to his/her horrible Ex in a way neither of you can do anything about, here are six ways to cope.

1. Stay Out of It
I know this is very hard. When your partner’s Ex is making life a living hell, it is tempting to want to leap in and defend them. Resist this urge and stay out of it. Remember, you cannot control their actions, but you can certainly control yours, so don’t stoop to their level. Toxic people feed on drama, so do not reward them by giving any more attention than you absolutely have to. Also, do not let them occupy any more of your time or thoughts than necessary. If you find yourself stewing about the latest awful thing that was done or said, take a deep breath and consciously shift your focus.  Believe me, I know this is easier said than done, but it can be done.

2. Your Relationship Is Important
Do not allow your Ex to come before your relationship with your partner. Relationships are hard work, and if you’re dealing with a toxic Ex trying to tear down your partner or insert themselves into your life as a couple, you will have to work even harder at building a strong, healthy relationship. Try to avoid having conversations about the Ex, especially during intimate moments or during your “us time” together.

3. Support Your Partner
If your partner wants to talk about what is happening with the Ex, be a sympathetic listener – but try not to be too reactive. Getting upset yourself will only make things worse, and it might make your partner feel like it is not safe to confide in you. Reassure your spouse of your love and continued support. Giving your partner plenty of love and support will only serve to strengthen the relationship.

4.  Your Partner Should Make Boundaries Clear
Your partner’s difficult relationship with the Ex might be a problem for you, but it is not your battle. It is your partner’s job to draw a line and make it clear to the Ex that they should not cross it.

5. Find A Safe Space to Vent
If your partner’s Ex is a horrible nightmare it will, at some point, become very distressing to you and so you are going to need to unload about it at some point. But do not do it with your partner. Find a relationship coach, relative or trusted friend who will listen to you rant, scream, or even cry. If it is a friend, make sure they know you are just venting, and they will not hold it against your partner, or bring it up later. Take some time on a regular basis to get things off your chest in a safe place where your words will not come back to haunt you, and you will not be judged.

6. Take Care of Yourself
Being in a relationship is hard. Being in a relationship with someone who has to deal with a toxic Ex is even harder. So, do something nice for yourself once in a while. And always remember that the EX is your partner’s past, but you are your partner’s future.

We are human beings and so we hurt after a breakup, especially if we have invested a number of years and time to the relationship. It is ok to hurt and even feel jealous of someone occupying the position you once held. It is hard, but move on with your life. Your Ex certainly has! If there are children involved, do not use them as pawns, or tell them bad things about their other parent and the new partner. Not because you are feeling horrible, miserable and insecure, you should cause your Ex and partner to feel the same. Your Ex deserves to be happy. You deserve to be happy. Seek help if you find it difficult to cope. Life goes on!

I welcome your comments.

Olive Patricia Ellis is a Relationship Consultant with training in Counselling Psychology. She has successfully provided relationship guidance to singles who need help in dating and other relationship issues, couples who are engaged, or couples whose relationships have “lost the loving feeling”.

Contact: [email protected]

About the author

Olive Ellis