Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Ex’s New Girlfriend is Bad-Mouthing Me”

I have a 12-year-old daughter, Betsy, from my first marriage. My ex and I split custody 50-50 with no child support, etc. We divorced over five years ago after a 10-year marriage. We married young, never really got along and argued constantly. It ended up being a surprisingly amicable divorce.

The problem is my ex’s girlfriend, “Brandy” (they have been dating about 1 1/2 years and live together). On the few occasions that I have talked to her, we had gotten along fine and had some nice conversations. So a few weeks ago I asked if she’d like to join me and Betsy to go shopping for a dress for her first school dance (this dance was really important to Betsy – it’s all she talked about for a month!). Apparently this somehow offended Brandy and she said that it was completely inappropriate for me to ask. I even heard that she’s bad-mouthing me about it to mutual people we know. I thought I was being nice.

I should also mention that I am very happily re-married and only call my ex about once a week to discuss Betsy’s schedule (so, I’m not the psycho-bitter ex-wife type).

As the ex-wife, did I overstep? Was it wrong of me to ask? Or since the girlfriend is 10 years younger, is it a maturity thing? Since my ex and my husband get along well, I was really hoping that we all could be friends (or at least somewhat friendly) for Betsy’s sake, but now I’m thinking that might not be possible. Any advice? – The Trying to be friendly ex

No, you did not overstep any boundaries; you were just trying to be nice. Perhaps you could have run the invite past your ex just to make sure he was okay with the idea of his girlfriend hanging out with his ex-wife, but I’m sure you imagined it wasn’t any big deal and wanted to treat Brandy as the adult you thought she was. At worst, you put Brandy in an awkward position of shopping with her boyfriend’s ex-wife, but any woman with an ounce of maturity and a hope that things work out between her and the man she’s dating would want to have an amicable relationship with the mother of his child — especially if he has an amicable relationship with her. And if she really felt so awkward about accepting your invite, all she had to do was politely decline. She could have easily made up some excuse and you wouldn’t have been the wiser and no feelings would have been hurt. Instead, she made you feel like you did something wrong — you didn’t — and then bad-mouthed you to mutual friends. She’s a loser. Let’s just hope your ex comes to the same conclusion soon and you won’t have to worry about her being in your life.

Until then, your priority is to keep your relationship with your ex amicable for the sake of your daughter, Betsy. Accept that you and your husband probably won’t be having double dates with your ex and Brandy. That doesn’t mean you can’t be cordial when you see her in passing or at special occasions (a school play, your daughter’s birthday, etc.). Don’t go out of your way to include Brandy in your life, but don’t go out of your way to make things any more awkward than she already has. I would also resist any temptation you may have to apologize or reach out to this woman to smooth things over. She sounds like the kind of person who will take the best of intentions and misinterpret them, twisting words around to support her skewed viewpoint. Don’t give her any more ammunition to use against you. Just let sleeping dogs lie.

With any luck, your ex will eventually move on from this woman. But if he doesn’t and you find that she will be in your life, however indirectly, for the foreseeable future, remember that your top priority is the well-being of your daughter. If she has a good relationship with Brandy, great (even if you don’t). If she doesn’t have a good relationship with her, then talk to your ex about your concern. If your daughter’s spending 50% of her time at your ex’s home, then she needs to be able to get along with the woman in his life. But it’s your ex’s responsibility first and foremost to make that happen if it isn’t happening naturally, so let him worry about it. If more than a few months go by and things don’t improve, then you can be more assertive in reaching out to Brandy yourself. Just remember that everything you say and do will have repercussions, so proceed with caution. It’s wonderful that you and your ex have been able to co-parent so well together, despite being divorced. Don’t let this insecure woman ruin what you’ve worked hard to achieve.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘like’ me on Facebook.

84 comments… add one
  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki May 22, 2012, 9:15 am

    I don’t think you overstepped at all. Honestly, if my husband’s ex-wife would ever call me to ask me to do something like this, I would jump all over it – just to be part of my stepdaughter’s (or stepson’s) event. Sure, I’m not a huge fan of his ex-wife but that’s my issue and not my stepdaughter’s and if she was really excited about an event, I would love to be involved in something to do with it.

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  • MackenzieLee

    ColorsOfTheWind May 22, 2012, 9:16 am

    Wendy’s advice is great. I just have to commend the LW for being so mature and accepting of another woman in her daughter’s life. Inviting another woman to join in a pretty large event in your daughter’s life is beyond mature. I honestly think her ex’s girlfriend may have been completely caught off guard by how nice and mature the LW was being and freaked out because of it.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary May 22, 2012, 9:18 am

      I agree with everything you said! The LW and her ex-husband seem to have made the best out of the divorce and established a stable environment for their daughter to grow up in. Like Wendy said I would let sleeping dogs lie and just move past this moment.

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    • avatar

      Something More May 22, 2012, 9:34 am

      I would agree about the freaked out part if she hadn’t went out and ran her mouth about the invitaion. I think it just shows lack of maturity on Brandy’s part.

      I commend LW as well – my ex-husband and I get along fairly well and he is engaged to a woman about nine years his junior for whom I don’t particularly care for. But my daughters are only around her a few months out of the year and they love her, so I keep my comments to myself. And my best friends.

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  • avatar

    bethany May 22, 2012, 9:17 am

    Totally agree with Wendy. I think it’s great that you and your X are at a place where you can co-parent and be friendly without any issues. It sounds like the new girlfriend isn’t as mature as you are and probably thought that you had some ulterior motive in asking her to go shopping, when in reality, it was just shopping! Lay low for a while, and I agree with what Wendy said about running any future invitations past your x in the future.

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray May 22, 2012, 9:29 am

    This is kind of weird – why on earth would the girlfriend be so offended by the invitation to dress shop? I am having a hard time seeing how this went down. You asked her, like, over the phone, and she told you directly, “LW, how dare you, this is ‘completely inappropriate'”? Did you ask why? What did she say? Or did you hear she was offended from mutual friends? What did your ex say about the Big Deal? I assume you talked to him about it, to sort of calm the waters and explain you were trying to be nice? It just doesn’t make sense to me. If the girlfriend is as petty and immature as to behave the way you describe, then I imagine this is not the first and only example, so you shouldn’t be surprised, right? I’m not sure why I am confused about this letter. I feel like there’s more. Or maybe the girlfriend is just a C U Next Tuesday. (I have been saying this at least 10 times a day since I heard it on Girls, and it’s not old, yet.)

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest May 22, 2012, 9:43 am

      She lives in the bitter barn. (I’ve been dying to use that since yesterday)

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 9:47 am

        it needs to be a regular phrase… i love it too!

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    • avatar

      Guy Friday May 22, 2012, 9:57 am

      Yeah, I was thinking that too. I mean, the reaction was so out-of-the-blue that I’m wondering if there’s more to the story here than even the LW was aware of. I try not to speculate about the other parties in these stories when the letters come in, but I couldn’t help having a gut reaction of, “Well, maybe this ex-ex relationship isn’t as amicable as the LW thinks it is.” It makes me wonder if the ex-husband is poisoning the waters a bit here, whether there was misinformation that Brandy was relying on in reacting as such. Maybe he told Brandy that the LW wasn’t going to be involved in the dress selection and built it up as something big that Brandy and the daughter could do together to bond?

      I’m just saying that something doesn’t fully add up here.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 22, 2012, 10:11 am

        It almost sounds like the LW is just looking for praise. “You’re mature; she’s petty.” I mean, there’s no other way to interpret her letter, with the way she described the situation. And if the situation is as black and white as she described, then I find it hard to believe that the LW would be so surprised by the petty girlfriend’s behavior – so much so that she’d write in to Wendy questioning whether what she (the LW) did was inappropriate. Come on, you know there’s nothing inappropriate about that. So all you’re going to get is a “you’re right, she’s wrong” type of response. You know the girlfriend is a weird-o. This can’t be the first example, if she’s as ridiculous as described. … Now, if she had written in saying “my ex’s is seeing an immature psycho path, who, unfortunately, is now a part of my daughter’s life; what can I do to make this as smooth as possible?” Then it would ring true, so to speak. Here, I feel like the LW just wants us to flatter her by poo pooing on the dumb girlfriend.

        Why am I poo pooing on this letter? Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Though, I am feeling really chipper today. I dunno.

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      • avatar

        niki May 22, 2012, 11:35 am

        I’m wondering if Brandy thought LW was asking her to pay for half the dress? Honestly, I’m as perplexed by this letter as you are.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger May 22, 2012, 1:20 pm

        I agree; I immediately thought it must have had something to do with money. Either the LW accidentally offending the GF by inadvertently insinuating that the GF or Ex couldn’t/wouldn’t pay for it; or by accidentally implying that the GF/EX should pay for it.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 May 22, 2012, 11:55 am

        I agree, there seems like there is something missing from this, or the GF is really really immature for some reason, but even if she was you would think the ex-husband would keep her from bad mouthing her to mutual friends… if everything was really all peaches and cream between them.

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      • avatar

        AmyRenee May 22, 2012, 12:05 pm

        I agree with GuyFriday – something isn’t quite right with Brandy’s response. Maybe 1 of 5 things: 1) Betsy or her father already asked Brandy to take Betsy dress shopping, or Brandy typically does the clothes shopping, so she felt like LW was trying to usurp this from her. 2) LW suggested they go shopping during a time that is usually the ex’s custody time, and Brandy thought it was inappropriate to spend time with LW during the ex’s “time”. 3) Brandy doesn’t want to go but LW asked in front of Betsy, making it awkward to say no in front of her. 4) LW contacted Brandy directly instead of going through the ex and she didn’t think that’s how the communication channels should go. 5) Brandy only tolerates Betsy for your husbands sake and can’t believe you would suggest she spend of her free time with Betsy when she doesn’t have to.

        Any way you look at it, just be the grownup and ignore her. Don’t gossip about how “you can’t believe she would badmouth you” – that’s just stooping to her level.

        Also if I’m doing the math right (married young, 10 year marriage, divorce 5 years ago, Brandy 10 years younger), you are probably around 35 and Brandy around 25. That’s a huge maturity difference, so best just to ignore it and be polite but avoid invitations from now on until she grows up a little or separates from your ex

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      • landygirl

        landygirl May 22, 2012, 7:11 pm

        #6 Brandy is the term for a female dog.

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  • katie

    katie May 22, 2012, 9:29 am

    i agree with wendy 100%.

    my parents are divorced, and my dad has a new “wife” (i dont think they are legally married because my dad is crazy), and i just found out a few months ago that my mom and the wife, rachel, actually talk on a semi-regular basis. my mom said that now that they are older, and they are each set in their new lives, that now they just want everyone to get along. so they work together to figure things out, like vacations or whatever… apparently, recently, my dad wanted to take in a second “wife” (i told you, my dad is crazy. this pissed me off for so long) and rachel was super mad about it, so she called my mom and they talked. my mom was then able to talk to my dad, and kind of was able to talk him out of it… so it works.

    i thought it was kind of weird that they talk, but i mean, my moms right. once you have your new life outside of your former marriage, then you just want everyone to get along- for everyone’s sake. its not good for anyone in the weird ex-wife/ex-husband/girlfriend/ new wife/boyfriend/new husband relationship between the four adults, and especially for the kids involved, if there is any kind of bad relationships. listen to wendy- and especially about not reaching out to her to apoligize. you tried to be polite and civil, and she is the one who isnt ok with that. so just accept that, dont try to dig even deeper with it.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki May 22, 2012, 9:34 am

      My husband’s ex-wife and I aren’t really “friends” but we talk on a fairly regular basis about the kids (since my husband is gone right now) and she goes out of her way to make sure I know when the kids have events like concerts and sports and everything. And she’s really nice when I do come to the events (which I do as often as my work schedule permits) even though her husband is kind of a jerkface… so I kill him with kindness. I know he doesn’t want anything to do with me and the kids pick up on it, so I go out of my way to say hi and smile at him.

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 9:49 am

        exaclty- i dont think that my mom and rachel are friends really either, but they get along for the sake of everyone else. thats great that you have a good relationship with the ex-wife as well. i really think it will show the kids especially that it is possible to have a healthy relationship of that sort as well.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki May 22, 2012, 9:52 am

        The funny part is, my relationship with her is better than my husband’s relationship with her. She prefers to talk to me about stuff instead of him and I figure we might as well leave the lines of communication open. I am really thankful that the kids stopped telling me that their mom and I should be best friends, though. 😉 It took awhile (actually, it took my husband going to prison and me still trying to be part of the kids’ life while he was gone) for her to see that I didn’t just tolerate her kids, but truly love them and after that she was more open to being nicer to me. And she likes that I defer to her on things – for example, my stepdaughter is more comfortable talking to me about certain things as a teenager, since I am closer to her age that her mom is (I am 10 years younger than my husband), but I clear it with her mom before I discuss anything that might overstep my bounds (ie: questions about sex).

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 22, 2012, 11:58 am

        I remember your essay here. I’m really glad that you are able to be a part of the children’s lives.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki May 22, 2012, 1:06 pm

        I’m glad too. I don’t think I could love them any more if I had been the one to give birth to them. And I’m so excited to show them our new house because they will have their own rooms and I let them choose whatever colors they wanted to paint. Apparently they want to come help paint, which is awesome too 🙂

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger May 22, 2012, 1:25 pm

        Totally off topic: Not sure how old they are, but I just read something about letting kids pick the paint and one trick you can use if they choose a truly atrocious shade that you know that same child will grow out if in a matter of months — you can use the old “it came out different on the wall/when it dried” bait and switch.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki May 22, 2012, 4:04 pm

        They are 14 (15 in November) and she wants 2 shades of purple and 11 (12 in July) and he wants black. I don’t like purple, but from what I can tell, the 2 shades she picked out are really pretty. And I don’t think I can trick him with black 😛 But really, I don’t care because we can always repaint later.

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      • avatar

        6napkinburger May 22, 2012, 6:18 pm

        maybe instead of plain normal black, go with chalkboard paint… that’s just cool

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    • avatar

      Something More May 22, 2012, 9:36 am

      “(i dont think they are legally married because my dad is crazy)”

      I don’t know if you meant for this to be funny, but I really LOL’d when I read it. And I agree with what you wrote as well.

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 9:49 am

        it is funny, but its like the sad kind of funny, because he is serious about his life… lol

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    • avatar

      Addie Pray May 22, 2012, 9:55 am

      Oh, can we talk more about your dad wanting to take a second wife?! I’m really into polygamy and Mormons and Fundamentalist Mormons and Sister Wives and the books Escape and Under the Banner of Heaven, and any book that even involves Mormons, like The Executioner’s Song… So, tell us more about that!!

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 10:00 am

        its way dumber then any of that… so my dad believes the old testament of the bible, and in there, men had multiple wives. we had a church when i was younger (and by church i mean that my dad and his weird friends and all our familes would meet on saturdays (the REAL holy day of the week, not sunday like every else is brainwashed to think) and read the bible together) and they all thought it was ok- one of the dads even had a second “girlfriend” for a while. it was terrible… i mean, its seriously patriarcal rule at its finest. we would do passover, and the women would have to wash the mens feet as part of it. WASH THEIR FEET. it was sick.

        so, thats how my dad thinks. old testament. fire and brimstone. no inter-racial dating/marriages. no gays. no pork, shellfish, women have long hair, the whole deal. so he apparently had this grand plan that he was going to go to a prison and find a woman who was just getting out of jail (so there nice and easily manipulated, not too much thought has to be put into it), and he was going to bring her home to his house in the middle of nowhere in minnesota and have her as a second “wife”.

        my dad is the physical embodiment of everything i hate in the world. its sad.

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      • JK

        JK May 22, 2012, 10:05 am

        Wow, sounds awful.
        I´m glad you came out OK, despite all that.

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 22, 2012, 10:15 am

        Well, hold on, let’s not be too quick to judge Katie, JK. I’ll decide when I meet her at our Chicago Meetup on June 2. 🙂

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      • JK

        JK May 22, 2012, 10:19 am

        By OK I mean untraumatized and non brain washed (in case it came out badly, Í´m barely functioning today on around 3 hours of sleep).

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      • Jess

        Jess of CGW May 22, 2012, 10:51 am

        Wow Katie, I am so sorry. It was big of you to share this.

        My BF’s dad has his own issues about monogamy although they are not as extreme and not religious in their basis. I guess sexist assholes come in many different packages.

        He believes in commitment (sorta….) but not marriage. And commitment doesn’t include sexual exclusivity in his mind –to be clear, I mean it doesn’t include sexual exclusivity for MEN. He’s told my BF since he was a little boy that marriage is a trap. Strangely/unfortunately, he is well educated, intelligent, attractive, and extroverted –making him that much more dangerous. It’s harder to dismiss him as crazy –though he surely is.

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 11:08 am

        thats really sad. i hope that your boyfriend has been able to form his own thoughts and opinions about marriage (and on life in general)

        I think thats the greatest disservice that those types of people do to their kids. they dont really let them have any other kinds of opinions

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      • Jess

        Jess of CGW May 22, 2012, 11:19 am

        He has some internal conflicts as you might imagine. But for the most part, he is more of a REACTION to his dad than a copy of him, –if that makes sense. I think because of his dad, he is more compassionate and more loving than the average person. But it isn’t easy. He loves his dad and wants his approval –and that’s not easy because his dad is incredibly selfish.

        But you and he are proof that we are more than our rough beginnings. I have known many people who triumphed over terrible childhoods and some of them are the strongest wisest people I know.

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      • avatar

        rachel May 22, 2012, 10:54 am

        Katie, I’m glad you came out so normal!

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 11:00 am

        haha.. take that AP! rachel has met me, so there. nothing to worry about for june 2nd. lol

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 22, 2012, 1:04 pm

        Phew! 🙂

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      • avatar

        Temperance May 22, 2012, 3:35 pm

        I’m really sorry to hear this. I was going to comment on the crazy since Mr. Temperance’s father is a fucking nutjob and a half, but he’s different crazy.

        He is an MRA, without using the term for himself (probably because he knows that it would set off red flags). He hates women with an impressive vigor; he thinks that women have engineered the school system so that only girls can succeed, that women are using this power to kick men out of universities and high paying jobs, and that we want to “be men” and we are emasculating men at every turn.

        He lives off of his wealthy girlfriend and is an “entrepreneur”, as in, he hasn’t held down a job in years. He also sees ghosts and “talks to” his guardian angel, who he also sees.

        I hate him so much.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest May 22, 2012, 3:41 pm

        Wait. He lives off his wealthy girlfriend? That’s not how I expected this story to end.

        I don’t know how you guys have the patience for crappy in-laws. I can’t imagine.

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      • avatar

        redessa May 22, 2012, 10:07 am

        I’m mormon (mainstream, not fundamentalist). What do you want to know?

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      • avatar

        Addie Pray May 22, 2012, 10:15 am

        Well, I’m more interested in the fundamentalists – the scandals – the train wrecks, so to speak. Ha ha. … (Guilty pleasure).

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      • Kristina

        Kristina May 22, 2012, 10:20 am

        I come from a long line of fundamentalist Mormons on one side of my family–My great-grandfather had 7 wives and over 65 kids..very, very strange. I’m related to like half of Utah by now.

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      • avatar

        Something More May 22, 2012, 10:24 am

        Holy…! And I thought as a Hispanic Catholic *we* had a lot of kids!!

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 10:28 am

        ap, have you ever read this blog?

        http://twocatsandawindchime.blogspot.com/2012/01/nailing-jello.html

        its a lady who is mormon, but its very disallusioned with her religion.. its hilarious. a friend of mine linked it (she converted to mormon to marry her husband, and i think she is questioning everything as well…)

        you might find it funny!

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      • avatar

        redessa May 22, 2012, 11:23 am

        I get that. I like watching sister wives. Sometimes I even think, hey… another wife might not be so bad. But then I realize I all I really want is a live-in housekeeper/nanny/cook. LOL You know, like Alice or Hazel or even Aunt Bea. I don’t actually want to share my husband with another woman.

        I’m originally from the south so I don’t have any pioneer heritage myself but my husband does. His ancestors were in the Willie-Martin Handcart company and there’s polygamy in his family history (I think his great grandmother was the 3rd wife in that family). Of course, this means my children also have that heritage. It is a fascinating thing to study.

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  • avatar

    Desiree May 22, 2012, 9:35 am

    I honestly cannot think of why Brandy would react the way she did. I suspect her age/maturity may be the issue. The LW and her ex-husband married 15 years ago, and she said they married young (20-ish?). She also said that Brandy was 10 years younger. That would put Brandy in her early to mid-twenties, which might explain the problem. She may not have the maturity to deal with this unique family situation.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest May 22, 2012, 9:46 am

      I still don’t think that’s an excuse, but even that doesn’t make sense to me. Very weird.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle May 22, 2012, 9:35 am

    Wendy’s advice was great– LW, you didn’t over-step at all & were actually being very nice and friendly. It would’ve been in the new girlfriend’s best interest to take you up on the invitation (to establish a rapport, bond with you & daughter, etc.) but she reacted nastily instead– completely her fault. I’m not sure what her problem might be, but maybe she wants to pretend you don’t exist? How is she with your daughter?

    She could be one of those women who think about a man’s prior family as an inconvenience, or she could loveee your daughter, but have some jealousy thing with you. Either way, she sounds ridiculous & immature. (And I’m sure that whoever she’s badmouthing you to probably think the same thing.)

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  • avatar

    a_different_Wendy May 22, 2012, 9:44 am

    I agree with all the above comments. This is not your problem. And if you’re worried about her bad mouthing you over this – any sane person who hears “omg my husband’s ex-wife tried to include me in a shopping excursion to buy a dress for their daughter, can you believe how *inappropriate* she is?!” is going to maybe nod and smile and think to themselves that, of all the crazy things an ex-wife can do, that sounds like sort of a non-thing.

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  • avatar

    DMR May 22, 2012, 9:45 am

    Brandy feels threatened by, and jealous of, the LW.

    It may not have anything to do with the LW and her ex having any kind of chemistry – this is at a deeper, more basic emotional level. For Brandy, it’s quite simple. Her boyfriend has an ex, and that ex is still in the picture. This causes Brandy to experience the emotions of resentment and jealousy as a result.

    As Wendy said, just steer clear of her. Not because you don’t like her but because she can’t handle the whole arrangement.

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    • avatar

      rachel May 22, 2012, 10:47 am

      This is exactly how I took it.

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    • avatar

      Something More May 22, 2012, 10:50 am

      Perfect.

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  • Kristina

    Kristina May 22, 2012, 9:50 am

    I get that Brandy is probably immature and may not know how to act in these situations, but it doesn’t really add up to me. I just don’t get why someone would be offended at such an invitation, which makes me think there is something more to the story. Unless maybe the girlfriend really doesn’t care to do those sorts of things with the daughter, which would explain a lot. Either way, it doesn’t sound like you are overstepping your bounds.

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  • Leroy

    Leroy May 22, 2012, 10:24 am

    I wonder if Brandy’s response reflects some tension in her relationship w/ the LW’s ex – e.g. that the overture to participate in mom-like activity touched a nerve.

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle May 22, 2012, 10:34 am

      This is a good point– & the only potential cause that would make Brandy’s reaction somewhat forgivable? (I mean, still out of line, but at least there’s a line of logic…otherwise, her response is totally unfathomable)

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  • Jess

    Jess of CGW May 22, 2012, 10:55 am

    Just to present an opposing view (of sorts), I wondered if maybe this is a case of whisper down the lane? Since LW’s interactions with the new girlfriend have been positive, maybe this offer just caught her off guard?

    I wasn’t clear what her immediate reaction was. Did she actually say that the offer was inappropriate or was that the message that came through the grapevine?

    Just holding out hope that it was a misunderstanding. It’s hard to see how this offer could be read as anything other than gracious. Good luck LW. You’re on the right path!

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh May 22, 2012, 11:02 am

      i wondered the same thing, like a bad game of telephone. it would seem odd to go from having all positive interactions to this.

      i would basically ignore that it ever happened and just keep things like they have been and maybe not suggest anything like this again, at least any time soon.

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      • avatar

        AmyRenee May 22, 2012, 12:21 pm

        yeah, I would avoid the “mutual friends” who told LW with Brandy was badmouthing her – they may just be bored gossips who like to cause trouble, or don’t understand that some divorces are amicable. If they are telling you what Brandy supposedly said, they they are probably also telling her whatever you say, possibly twisting it along the way. Don’t feed the gossip fire, just move on. But it might be worth a call to your ex to clear up all things dance related – who’s dropping her off, picking her up, buying dress, doing hair, can you both go to the same place to take pics of her before, etc etc etc – better to clear any dance related drama with your ex now, and setup the boundaries. And ask Betsy what she wants – she might want you to do the dress shopping, but Brandy to do her hair & makeup, for instance. At the end of the day, it’s BETSYs big event, so play nice and go along with what she wants.

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    lets_be_honest May 22, 2012, 11:04 am

    Just get along for the sake of the kids. This letter’s weird, so I am thinking that there’s more to the story, maybe some passive aggressiveness on your part. Who knows. Whatever it is, just get along for the kids. Keep a voodoo doll to poke her eyes out if you must. It really sucks when parents/stepparents, etc. don’t get along.

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    Kath May 22, 2012, 11:22 am

    Wow. If my BF’s ex had invited me to go dress-shopping with their daughter, I would have been reduced to a weepy mess by the kindness and thoughtfulness of the gesture. LW, you’re a good person to want to include her in that important occasion, and help her bond with your daughter, and any normal person would have been deeply grateful. I agree, don’t worry about the bad-mouthing. Anyone she complains to about your invite is going to look at her like she has 4 heads.

    As to her motivation, I’m going to have to go with immature and insecure. She’s probably freaked that your ex talks to you once a week. I dunno, when my BF made sure to regularly check in with his ex about how the kids were doing in school and make sure they were on the same page with decisions, discipline, etc, I admired them both for it. Their divorce was not amicable at all, and I was so pleased that they could cooperate where the kids were concerned.

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    Hazel May 22, 2012, 11:42 am

    “Apparently this somehow offended Brandy and she said that it was completely inappropriate for me to ask.”

    Maybe what Brandy is really offended about is being “invited” to the dress shopping (an important, highly anticipated thing) when she expected to be there all along? Perhaps she’s already thinking that she’s the step-mother and doesn’t need an invitation to participate in things like this when she may be assuming that she has a “right” to be there? That’s the only way I can explain such a bizarre reaction to such a well intentioned offer.

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    • avatar

      Marta May 22, 2012, 12:17 pm

      Yes if she is young she could presume that she is the mommy too. I’d like to know what she is saying about the LW!

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    • mandalee

      mandalee May 22, 2012, 12:17 pm

      I was thinking that could be it. But as a girlfriend of a year and a half, she’s not a step-mother yet in any terms. She may be present and take care of the daughter, but I think she’d be crossing the line if she assumed it was a given that she’d be there. Since the custody is 50/50, the girl’s mother would obviously be present for all of these activities. The girlfriend of her father, maybe? I wouldn’t assume if it was a given if I was Brandy.

      The whole letter is bizarre, but having seen my husband’s dad go through girlfriend after girlfriend, some of their reactions and assumptions can be out there. One told me she was sitting in the front row of my wedding because she’s “basically” my step mother-in-law…after 6 months of dating. I liked her and all, but she wasn’t basically anything except one of his dad’s girlfriends.

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 12:22 pm

        yea, i feel like there are a lot of crazies out there who would just assume they are a step mom… which is terrible. being a step mom is a big deal, and you dont just “assume” that happens, and you dont just get grandfathered into the position after a pre-determined amount of months. i mean, i got all weirded out when i was called auntie katie by my boyfriends step-neice… like, were not married, im not your auntie (yet). i secretly loved it, but it freaks me out at the same time. like, you just met me, im not auntie. you know?

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    Betsys_mom May 22, 2012, 11:50 am

    Hi all! I’m the LW. I appreciate Wendy’s advice and all the comments. To clarify: I did go through the ex to invite her to dress shop (called him and asked him if she would like to come along) and her response came through text message the next day. The reason I wrote this letter was because I thought her response was strange also. I didn’t feel like I overstepped, but I wanted an outside perspective just in case I did.

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    • mandalee

      mandalee May 22, 2012, 12:21 pm

      Thanks for clarifying. With that, I definitely assume she’s annoyed that you went through your ex, and that somehow you and your daughter are a packaged deal in her life and if this relationships lasts, you will *both* be present for all of them. Some people are just petty. You tried, but apparently she’s weird about it.

      Oh, and one other thing: did her text message state that it was inappropriate for you to ask or is that what you are hearing from other people?

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    • Fabelle

      Fabelle May 22, 2012, 12:34 pm

      What did the text say??

      You don’t have to answer; I’m just really curious as to how she phrased her offended-ness. I guess, since the invitation got filtered through your ex, maybe he relayed the message poorly? Maybe HE’S the one who’s uncomfortable (even if you guys are on good terms, he could have an issue with the idea of you bonding with his new gf)? Or– contrarily– maybe he was TOO enthusiastic, so enthusiastic that “Brandy” got sour to the idea?

      (none of this is helpful, I know, but I just find it so weird that she’d react like that)

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        Betsys_mom May 22, 2012, 1:39 pm

        Actually, the text just said “It’s inappropriate for you to ask. No, I don’t want to go dress shopping.”

        I thought that maybe the ex had something to do with it until I heard that she was also bad-mouthing me.

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        redessa May 22, 2012, 1:50 pm

        Wow, that’s really bizarre! Especially given that you’d had a cordial relationship up to that point. A simple “No thank you” would have been a plenty sufficient answer.

        Maybe she felt like you were pushing a friendship on her when all she wants is to be polite from a distance? Or maybe she’s crazy enough to think you’re buddying up to her as part of some diabolical plot to create a wedge in her relationship with your ex-husband and/or daughter. I don’t know, I really can’t think of any reasonable explaination for her to respond the way she did. I’d be curious to know exactly how your ex presented the invition to her though.

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        Something More May 22, 2012, 2:02 pm

        Maybe she secretly hate dresses? Like, HATES dresses….

        Other than that, I say yes, it is weird and should probably be blown off. Don’t bother extending another invitation and continue to be as civil as possible for your daughters sake.

        PS: Brandy totes seems like the type to write here and complain that her fiance’s ex is completely inappropriate, of course failing to mention this tidbit.

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      • Fabelle

        Fabelle May 22, 2012, 2:25 pm

        Wow– Brandy sounds pretty unhinged (my first thought reading her quoted response was actually “ew!”)

        Be assured that your invitation was not inappropriate at all 🙂

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 2:34 pm

        on the bright side, atleast she was to the point about it.

        i think it must have really “meant” something to her that you asked- like you were trying to force a friendship or were trying to manipulate her relationship with your ex, like redessa said… she probably just put way too much emphasis on the fact that you were asking her in the first place- she read into it too much, i think.

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        lets_be_honest May 22, 2012, 3:43 pm

        I don’t think I could’ve resisted at least asking why. Bi-zarre.

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        AndreaMarie May 22, 2012, 3:59 pm

        Oh my word!!! I would be over the effing moon if my bf’s ex asked me to be involved in something with their daughter! I’m also 10 years younger than his ex and she is already remarried. She flipped on me once at the daughter’s school play. All the parents were waiting outside the auditorium and it was packed. I guess the daughter was able to spot me through the crowd and ran over to me. This infuriated the ex and she told me that im not “her mother” and I was “out of line” and she should have been the first to congratulate her.

        You need to speak with Brandy directly. Not through the ex this time. Call her and ask her what’s up. Why she was offended and what your intentions were.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki May 22, 2012, 4:08 pm

        My stepkids almost always come to me first outside of school events for the simple fact that they don’t see me as often and I’m pretty sure their mom doesn’t really care. Usually, she will find me and come stand near me so the kids don’t have to hunt us both down.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark May 22, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Wendy’s advice is spot on. The New GF is yet another fine example of how many women simply seem bound and determined to earn the label “the insecure sex…” Her behavior is simply pathetic.

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  • Budj

    Budj May 22, 2012, 1:01 pm

    To those suspecting more to the story…that the LW couldn’t possibly be the saint she indirectly claims to be in this situation…….some people (i.e. the ex’s gf) really are this crazy/petty.

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    6napkinburger May 22, 2012, 1:38 pm

    Theory:
    Gf is very busy with a demanding job and constantly has to say no to these types of requests, which cause feelings that alternate between feeling bad that she can’t make it and annoyance that she has to say no again. Despite knowing her work schedule, LW invited Gf to dress shopping — now: Gf either has to say no (for the billionth time) because of work, or spend her only free time hanging out with LW, during a time when Gf thought she’d finally get some quality time with Ex (because Betsy would be out with her mother), which, due to her schedule, doesn’t happen often. Or Gf can say no to the outing so she can spend the time with Ex, but not without feelings super shitty about it. Ex keeps asking her to try to spend more time with LW because them getting along is really important to him, with Gf understands but feels so much pressure on the relationship that she winds up dreading the interactions. which Additionally, Betsy is disappointed that Gf won’t come, which makes Gf feel even worse. Because Gf feels that none of this would have happened if LW/Ex would just leave her be and let the relationship grow organically, she feels it is inappropriate for Lw to invite her as she does. She was with the mutual friend when she got a call from Ex telling her about the shopping outing, which frustrated Gf, and she vented to her friend. Friend, caring about all parties, thought she’d be helpful by telling LW that Gf feels overwhelmed and that Gf feels that Lw sometimes oversteps her bounds.

    Just a thought.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark May 22, 2012, 7:03 pm

      Nothing about this situation backs up your theory here…. You’ve made up details that simply don’t exist…

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    AnotherWendy May 22, 2012, 2:14 pm

    My daughter spends 50/50 between her dad and I. He and I have managed to successfully co-parent her for over ten years now (She’s mid-teens). His long time SO and her kids are very friendly with me and vice versa. Same with my ex and my long time SO and his son. Truthfully, at this point, my ex’s SO feels almost like the equivalent of a Sister-in-law to me and her kids my neice and nephews. You would not beleive how many people tell me how wrong this is, how weird the whole thing is….blah blah blah. They can never fully explain though why they feel this way. So maybe the this is Brandy’s deal. Or maybe she is totally freaked out as being seen in the step-mother role because really she’s just enjoying being the girlfriend.

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    • katie

      katie May 22, 2012, 4:31 pm

      be proud of it! just because everyone else’s exes make their lives a living hell doesnt mean yours has to!

      its like saying the same things about why you get along with your mother in law, or why you husband would ever actually WANT to marry you- sorry that your MIL sucks, and sorry your husband didnt actually want to get married- but that doesnt mean you have to rain on my parade…

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      • avatar

        MarieDC May 22, 2012, 7:26 pm

        “why you husband would ever actually WANT to marry you”

        do people actually question that?good god…

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      • katie

        katie May 22, 2012, 7:31 pm

        maybe not actually coming out and saying it, but more of the whole joking about the commitment of marriage by men- those awful cake toppers with the man with a ball and chain, or him being dragged by the neck by the bride… the whole once you get married your life ends/ game over thing. just that whole insinuation that men dont want to be married ever, and that women somehow coerce them into it.

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    DMR May 22, 2012, 5:36 pm

    Just throwing this out there: it might be worth confronting her and doing a little speech.

    Explain to Brandy that you’re not a threat; that there’s not way in hell you’d ever get back with your ex (“No offense, but he’s just not my type” you can add with a smile.). Tell her how great your new man is.

    Tell her that the two of you need to get along.

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