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David Eddie's Damage Control

I bought my ex a gift and my new boyfriend's upset Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I bought my ex-husband a Christmas present, which my new boyfriend found under the bed. He thought it was for him until he checked the shirt size and realized who I'd really bought it for. He freaked out and accused me of trying to keep an old flame burning at his expense. I was married for 16 years, and have always exchanged holiday gifts with my ex. He's the father of my children! How can I assure my new guy that it's nothing but a goodwill tradition?

THE ANSWER

Well, you could tell your boyfriend it could've been worse.

Your ex-husband could've been inside the shirt when your boyfriend found it under the bed.

I'm just messing with you. I know these things can be ticklish - especially when there are kids involved.

My mother's long-term (20 years) boyfriend still spends some holidays with his ex and their kids, and it's a little odd for my mother. But of course he wants to hang with his kids and grandkids when his ex starts whipping up eggnog and firing up Yule logs.

I think it's natural, even laudable, to want to preserve these connections with people who have played an important role in your life, even those with whom, perhaps, the stresses and strains of cohabitation got to be too much.

Especially someone with whom you spent 16 years of your life. I would say if your new boyfriend wants to have any kind of longevity as your romantic partner, he should attempt to understand this.

Probably what bothers him most here is the secrecy. That's what would bother me, were my size-13s in his fuzzy bunny slippers. I assume you're not mailing the present. Therefore, you were probably planning to make the exchange at a clandestine meeting with your ex, which

I could understand your boyfriend might not be crazy about.

If there truly is no skulduggery afoot vis-à-vis your ex, then I suggest you adopt a policy of above-boardness and transparency in your dealings with him at all times.

Assure your boyfriend that no festive shenanigans are in the, uh, offing. Maybe invite him to come along for the drop. That will make him feel included, and perhaps also send a message to your ex: "I'm with this guy now."

 

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