Dear Prudence

Help! My Ex Is Up to Something Suspicious With My New Boyfriend.

I finally introduced them at a friend’s birthday party…

Woman looking worried while two men chat in a friendly way in the background.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by fizkes/iStock/Getty Images Plus and  PeopleImages/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Q. Plotting Ex: I am a divorced mother of two teenagers. After many years of zero affection and little respect, my split with “Andy” was very acrimonious. He tried to pit our friends against me and even got my parents to sympathize with what I was supposedly “putting him through.” The early years of the divorce were hard on our children and had a lot of passive-aggressive behavior from Andy. Everything was just so difficult!

A couple of years after the divorce, I met “Charles.” Charles is wonderful in every way—he is kind, affectionate, and truly cares about what I have to say. After a rocky start with my children, they have come around to at least having a friendly relationship. (He has no children of his own.) After months of talking with him about how my divorce has impacted me and what Andy has put me through, I finally introduced them at a friend’s birthday party. What happened between them left me uneasy.

They got along great! Even now, a few months later, they have engaging conversations when they see one another, which is always with me. They don’t communicate otherwise. I know I should consider this wonderful. It has helped the kids navigate our separation better. Charles is also very supportive of me and never says anything that contradicts my feelings toward Andy. But given how Andy has triangulated people against me in the past, I worry that he is setting something up. Should I be worried about this? What should I do?

A: I’m really happy to hear that Charles is supportive and hasn’t tried to convince you that Andy is a great guy who has been through a lot and had solid reasons for denying you affection and respect. That reflects well on him. And when I re-read your question to confirm that these two are simply chatting, not going on guys’ trips to Vegas together or texting 45 times a day, I decided you don’t have anything to worry about here.

Except, maybe, one little thing: Does some small part of you have a reason to be concerned that Charles is susceptible to triangulation by Andy? I mean, you know him and I don’t. So, really ask yourself. Where is this concern coming from? Do you have a sense that he’s not entirely loyal to you? Do you think he doesn’t have a good sense of himself and could easily be swayed by a guy he met a few months ago? Does he generally defer to men over women? Having been in relationships with both him and Andy, do you fear they may actually have a lot in common, and not in a good way? I guess what I’m saying is: It’s perfectly fine for them to chat. After all, you introduced them and put them in the same room. What’s Charles supposed to do, ignore Andy? Give him weird stiff answers when he asks questions? Pick fights? From the outside looking in, it sounds to me that he’s making the best of a potentially awkward situation (that, again, you chose to put him in). But you know your boyfriend, and if you can imagine him letting your ex get into his head, definitely listen to yourself.

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