Co-Existing With My Much Older Boyfriend’s Ex-Wife
Six Strategies That Helped Me Learn to Be Comfortable in My Own Skin
We all struggle with acceptance at some point in our lives. No matter how tall, strong, smart, or witty we are, there’s always someone bigger, stronger, smarter, and funnier. Equipped with a herd instinct, we generally don’t tolerate being disliked or criticized for little to no reason. We know who we are, and build up relationships around our own self-understanding. But when it’s all for naught, do people get past it?
A Little Bit of Backstory
Trophy wife. Gold digger. Bimbo. That’s me!
For the last three years, I have been in a relationship with an older man. I love him dearly, and I have no doubt that he is the one for me. That said, these three years have been the hardest of my life.
When my boyfriend and I first met, I was exactly half his ex-wife’s age.
I won’t go into the sordid details of the split You just need to know that he and I met almost two years after his ex-wife met her current boyfriend. So why did she seem to hate me so much?
‘The Ex’ refused to meet me for the first year that I lived with my boyfriend. This despite the fact that her children came to stay with us every other weekend like clockwork.
I cannot begin to explain how much time I spent wondering what I had done wrong? Why wouldn’t she meet me? What had I ever done to her?
Based on my experiences, I offer the following to anybody struggling to cope with the indescribable struggle of seeking someone’s acceptance. I did what I’m about to advise you to do and came out better for it.
Six Strategies That Helped Me Get Through It
Based on my experiences, I offer the following strategies to anybody struggling to cope with the indescribable struggle of waiting for somebody to accept you.
1. Ground Yourself in Support
Before anything else can happen, you must ground yourself and know your inherent value. My boyfriend loves me – not the person he thinks I could be, not the slightly thinner or slightly fitter person I am striving to be, but me. The same is true for anyone.
Take the time to explore what you love about yourself and learn to love what you criticize in yourself. I’m sure this all sounds a little wacky, but I have found it to be true. There is only one You, so you must be gentle with yourself.
I struggled with this especially because of I lack self-confidence. His ex-wife is size tiny and always wearing designer clothes while I’m far from it.
I felt there was no way I could compete. And no matter how often my boyfriend told me that he loved me just as I was and there was no competition, I compared myself to her each time I saw his ex-wife.
But I quit caring about it and decided to invest in a little self-love and came out better for it.
2. Find an Unbiased Third Party to Give It to You Straight
You are not Superman! Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but it’s true. This is an incredibly tough journey that you’re on, and you cannot be expected to do it on your own.
Have someone outside the situation who can support you and shed some much-needed perspective from when necessary. My mother and brothers did this for me. They were an encouraging source of support.
One important caveat: I learned quickly that you shouldn’t always rely on others. I live in the UK and being more than an ocean away I relied more on my boyfriend for support. Make sure your network of supporters is within reach. This brings us nicely to the next point.
3. Talk to Your Partner
If you are at all insecure at times, talk to your partner. I know this can be weird since you’re supposed to be all strong and manly and whatnot.
I actually didn’t do this at first, and then, in the middle of an argument, I blurted out my fears about my perceived inferiority.
His reaction startled me – he just laughed. It turns out that not only did he not want me to be tiny, but one of the things he loves about me is the fact that I’m happy to have a kebab for dinner or enjoy a giant piece of cake.
If you’re battling feelings of inadequacy, remember that your partner is as invested in your relationship as you are. Voice your insecurities. Keep them from being a bigger problem than they need to be.
4. Dwelling on What You’re Doing Wrong Is a Waste of Time
The year that his ex-wife refused to meet me obviously bothered me. It stung that she held herself with a higher regard than she held her kids. When we were in the same places she would completely ignore me. It was excruciating.
I’m a people pleaser, always have been. So I experienced discomfort and confusion at being completely blanked when I had done nothing wrong. I cried…a lot. And I couldn’t stop asking myself why she hated me so much.
It’s easy for me to tell you not to waste your time on that stuff, and I sincerely hope it’s just as easy for you to live it. If you’re anything like me, though, you’ll just have to get there in your own time.
But know this: They don’t hate you. It’s not personal. If anybody else were in your place, their reaction would be just the same.
5. Laugh When You Can, Where You Can
This has to be hands down, the most important tip I can offer you. Laugh. Laugh often and laugh with your partner. You would be amazed at how much better it can make you feel.
Whatever horrible text you’ve received or biting comment you’ve overheard, just laugh at it, at them, at all of it.
Laugh every day, secure in the knowledge that you have a strong relationship and nobody can take that away from you.
6. Always Remember These Wise Words
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
You can control how people make you feel. Be confident in yourself and in your relationship. As my mother keeps telling me, “She’s not paying rent in your head, so don’t give her the space!”
As for me, it’s been a rough three years. Things have changed for the better. Now, my boyfriend’s ex-wife has invited us over to her house. We’ve had family dinners with her and her new partner. And I’m engaged!
Actually, the week he proposed I started thinking about what a long road it had been. I felt like I had done it – I had learned to live in a world with his ex-wife.
Give it time.
You will never be able to force people to like you. The best you can do is learn to love yourself, stand tall and wait for them to come around. They may never love you but if they are honest with themselves, they will respect your integrity and sense of self.