Q: My boyfriend’s ex texts him in the middle of the night. It’s not romantic; it’s usually something like, “Don’t forget Jason’s soccer game is tomorrow,” but it drives me crazy. He doesn’t see anything wrong with it and will not say anything to her. What’s good ex-etiquette?
A: Can’t say I haven’t been on both the giving and receiving end of this, and of course it’s distracting and if you are the “new” partner, particularly invasive.
However, the key to the problem is how your boyfriend is reacting. It’s he who should be establishing clear boundaries, letting the ex know what is acceptable and what is not. If he isn’t, take a look at that. He either sleeps through the text pinging, or he doesn’t mind it — and there you are lying next to him, smacking him on the shoulder saying, “Someone is texting you!” and you already know who it is.
Plus, it’s not that his son is in the emergency room, it’s that he’s got a soccer game tomorrow. Ridiculous ex-etiquette.
In your boyfriend’s defense, you didn’t say how long you have been his girlfriend. If it’s been weeks or months, this may just be how they communicate, and he hasn’t wanted anything to change. If it’s been years and he’s never set the ex straight, hmmm.
You also have to look at how he’s reacting to give you a clue to his priorities. Does he wake up and immediately text her back or does he just sleep through it? Are these texts only from his ex or do his kids also practice the same behavior? Does he text them in the middle of the night?
From a good ex-etiquette perspective, you also have to make your boundaries clear — make sure your boyfriend knows what you feel is acceptable. Whining about her texting is obviously not going to get you what you want. If this is a deal breaker, let him know it. Then, it’s up to him to make it clear to the ex, and if he doesn’t, you have your answer.
Bottom line, respect each other’s turf. No one is doing that and everyone should. The ex needs to respect your relationship. Actually, it sounds like your boyfriend needs to do that, too.
Jann Blackstone is the founder of bonusfamilies.com.