Ex and the Neighbors

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2003
Ex and the Neighbors
Tue, 08-27-2013 - 4:12pm

I apologize ahead if I ramble here a bit.

Some back-story: I’ve been with my (early 40’s) BF for about a little over a year and a half. (I'm in my early 30's). He was separated when I met him and the divorce was final a year ago. He and his Ex do not have any kids.

While he has asked me to move in a few times, I won’t do it unless we are engaged. So I just renewed my lease and we are talking about an engagement/moving in next year. He has been in his house for over 10 years and is very friendly with the neighbors. The four of them used to go out all of the time, but all of that stopped during the separation.

He waited a bit to introduce them to them last year, because he wanted to tell his Ex “Diane” first that he was seeing someone. He didn’t want her to hear it from the neighbors, since they are still friends. I was patient with this, however made it clear that I wasn’t going to sneak around the yard just because they didn’t know who I was.

Fast forward and the Ex and neighbors now know about me. Mr. and Mrs. “Neighbor” (or “N” as I will refer to them) were pleasant enough at first, but I definitely notice that Mr. N is much more friendly. Mrs. N sometimes says “hello” and sometimes ignores me. I don’t take it personally. She’s friends with Diane and I understand female loyalty, so I didn’t expect her to bake me a pie. I wouldn’t say she is downright rude- but can be standoffish.

The goal is not for Mrs. N and I to be BFF’s. I’ve got enough friends. We have nothing in common that I'm aware of. As long as we can be civil- that is all I ask for.

My boyfriend “Jack” decides to catch up one night recently with Mr. and Mrs. N. He asked if I was ok with this, and planned to go with them alone. The idea was to maybe make things “less chilly” for me over the fence. I said it really wasn’t necessary and completely up to him. I personally didn’t have a problem with the neighbors, but agreed that if we are looking at me moving in next year…..He also said things were a little awkward even before I came into the picture back when he separated.

Fair enough. I scheduled a girl’s night and Jack went to dinner with the neighbors. That night, I came back to his house to find the three of them hanging out in the living room. I said “hello” and everyone asked how my night went vs their night. I grabbed a drink and a seat as we all chatted. It seemed very friendly until Mrs. N started telling stories about Jack and Diane. “Remember the time you two went here?” or “Remember when the four of us had blah, blah, blah?” I just sat politely, listened and smiled when appropriate.

After they left, Jack said he had a really nice night with them. It is true that they weren’t sure how to handle Diane moving out and remaining friends with both of them. They had been friends and neighbors for so long. He said they were curious about me and asked questions about how we met, etc. They were unaware of the problems in the marriage at the time and didn’t know Jack was so unhappy.

I didn’t make mention to him of the “Jack and Diane” stories as he probably assumes Mrs. N was just reminiscing. The problem is that he has mentioned him and I going out with Mr. and Mrs. N sometime.

There are no plans for this right now; however I do have my own plan in mind. Before going out, whenever that may be I’m going to give Jack a head’s up about something. If Mrs. N gets to her third Jack and Diane story before the drinks are served, I’m going to excuse myself and go to the ladies’ room. That will be his opportunity to ask her to tone down the “J&D” talk. If they want to sit and talk about the “good old days”- then do it some other time because it makes me uncomfortable.

I’m not saying nobody can say the name “Diane” ever again. Of course she is going to come up. I don’t think it is unfair to ask that I not have to sit there through story after story. I can’t tell if Mrs. N does it on purpose or if she is just making conversation. Jack has said her standoffish attitude is just part of her personality sometimes. As I sit here and type all of this, I wonder if going to dinner with them ever might be a good idea. I see no reason for it right now.

Has anyone else had to deal with a friend, family member, neighbor not be able to keep their trap shut about an ex? Do you think it is malicious or just ignorance? This is my first serious relationship with someone whom has an Ex-wife and sometimes I really don’t know how to handle certain situations.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Tue, 08-27-2013 - 4:53pm

This is a very typical situation.  You're not alone.

The good part is that this is a neighbor, and not a family member.  Although being a neighbor does have its own set of challenges.  To be honest, moving into the past maritial home is going to have a slew of annoyances ranging from minor to sometimes quite large.  Not trying to be negative here, just honest.

Giving this gal the benefit of the doubt, she is probably just unthinking and not doing it intentially to be disrespectful.  It may be a subconsious thing and this is her way of making her her R with the xW and your DH very clear.  "I was here first."

My mom and dad to the same thing.  Not really story telling quite like you are describing, but they bring up my xH name for reasons that are just unnessecary.  They don't even realize they are doing it.  "oh yea, I helped xH build that fence."  Stuff like that. 

I think you need to bring this up with your BF, as he may, or may not, being paying attention.  I think you have pretty good handle on what is going on here.  The four of you being buddy-buddy may be an unrealistic expectation, as much as your BF would love for that to be the case.  

As your R with him develops, it will be important that your position is clear.  Yes, the xW exists, but with no children involved, there are few reasons to bring her up and your status as fiance should take precendence with everyone you two surround yourselves with.

I hope you keep posting and let us know how it all goes. 

Serenity CL making a second marriage work

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Tue, 08-27-2013 - 8:48pm

Hi Nad--


I'm glad Serenity responded, as I recall she had a thread on here not that long ago (past year?) re: in-laws doing the same thing, and it bugging her husband.

I agree the neighbor is clueless, and I DONT think she's doing it on purpose. 


You said Mrs. N is friends with exW---is that present-tense---like still seeing her, etc?  AND, second question----are you comfortable with Mrs. N sharing all of your goings-on with exW?  -----*that* would be my bigger concern re: being "great" friends with the neighbors..........??

Some thoughts--

It might seem presumptious to ask Mrs N not to mention exW while you are still only "the gf", and (to their knowledge,) a relatively NEW gf, yet. However,  I'd still suggest your BF clueing in Mrs N re: you being sensitive re: references to the exW, etc, because you ARE sensitive to this.  If Mrs N has any common sense, she would  realize this is normal, and, if she's truly a friend of BF, she would try to accommodate BF by making BF's GF comfortable.....kwim?

I agree it could be very awkward for Mrs N, if she's still friends with exW............so just giving alot of lip service to "4 some" activities,...then not following though for now......might be a good option for limiting your contact for now, and allowing her time to figure out her role.

Glad to see you here---looking forward to hearing more from you--



iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2003
Wed, 08-28-2013 - 2:37pm

Hello Ladies! Thank you for the warm welcome and the comments.

Honestly it is nice to hear that people have been through similar situations and it is also comforting to know this is common. None of my girlfriends have to deal with an Ex-spouse so at times, I very much feel like I am flying blind.

To answer your question Lauren, yes Mrs. N is still good friends with the ExW. From what I understand they still see each other occasionally. And no, I’m not sure how comfortable I would be hearing information passed on to her. I can’t imagine we would discuss serious topics at dinner, but you are correct that I have to assume that anything I say to Mrs. N is most likely going to get back to Diane.

I always make it a point to never bad mouth Diane to anybody. Even a few of Jack’s friends have thrown in the occasional comment about her, and I keep my mouth shut. I’ve never met her and only know her through Jack. I’m curious about this woman that he spent 15+ years with and have formed my own opinion about her- but I also keep that to myself around them.

I’ll say it here though: I think she was very manipulative and extremely clingy. She doesn’t seem to be a bad person, but has a lot of personal issues.

Agreed that the four of us; Mr. & Mrs. N, Jack and I shouldn’t be planning double dates in the near future. Sometimes I feel like Jack struggles to not make me a “replacement” for lack of a better word. Just because J&D always went out with N&N doesn’t mean that we have to. We’ve hit a few small bumps in the road where something was obviously ok with Diane in the past- but it is not ok with me. He spent a long time with this woman and at times says he still “learning” me.

I’m trying to find a good example. Here is one: they had no boundaries when it came to jokes. Between them, anything could be made fun of. I disagree. I don’t think there is anything funny about rape or spousal abuse. In my opinion, not everything can- or should be made the topic of a joke. Jack spent half a minute trying to convince me otherwise. I’m not saying he made rape jokes on our first date, but as I got to know him- I learned that there wasn’t a filter.

I’m not a prude and like to laugh as much as the next person. But he struggled a bit to adjust and now understands certain topics are off-limits (there are very few of them) when it comes to jokes and colorful comments. However, I still don’t think he understands why. Sometimes I want to shout at him “Look Buddy!! Just because Diane was ok with it doesn’t mean that EVERY woman is ok with it!!”

But I digress. I’ll go on about the differences some other time! I’m just glad that I found a good place to post about such things. Thanks for listening.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-25-2013
Sun, 09-01-2013 - 4:50pm

Whether the neighbor is clueless or passive/aggressive can't be known. What you do have control over is making your needs known. First, I would say to your bf, "I know you had a past, and it was important for me to know about your past in general, but the mention of your ex isn't a pleasant topic of conversation to me. I'd rather focus on the present and future of you and me. If any of your friends mention her when I'm around, can I count on you to say that you don't want to talk about her right now. You'd rather talk about the fun things you and I have been doing, etc." Then maybe they'll get in a new habit of avoiding that subject. If he's not man enough to say something, stick up for yourself in a positive way. Come up with something like, "That's the past. I'd rather talk about what blank and I've been doing." If they get irritated or become rude, then these are not people you want to hang around with. Life's too short. 

Ages ago when I was 19, my boyfriend's best friend seemed to be jealous of me stealing time away from their bromance. The friend would make jokes at my expense. I told my boyfriend that when he spent time with his friend, I was great, but I prefer not to be included. I also never liked the friends bimbo girlfriends and always had to tolerate these double dates. My bf always insisted, and I had to spend time with people who I didn't particularly like. Now that I'm older with more life experience, I will always refuse to spend time with toxic people. If this female neighbor continues to treat you like an intruder or as if you're invisible, tell your bf to spend time with them alone, because you want to enjoy every moment of your life, and don't have time for drama. Good luck.