How to Handle Your Boyfriend’s Ex-Girlfriend

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Act Like A Lady Think Like A Man" by Steve Harvey. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you worried about how you’ll react when you run into your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend? Want tips on how to prepare for a possible run-in?

In his book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey discusses how to handle a run-in with your boyfriend’s ex, especially if they have a child together. Harvey says that it’s better to prepare yourself for the possibility of a run-in rather than being caught off guard and reacting poorly.

Continue reading for Steve Harvey’s advice on how to navigate a meeting with your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.

Tips to Manage the Ex-Girlfriend

If you’re dating a man older than 30, you’re likely with someone who’s been in serious relationships before. He may even have children with another woman. And if you live in the same town, chances are you will cross paths with your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend at some point. You don’t want to fall into the trap of reacting poorly when you meet the ex. Your snide behavior will either show your man how jealous you are or make things so bad you can’t form a positive relationship with his children. 

The following advice will help you navigate meeting the ex:

1. Remain calm.

Don’t try to control the encounter with his ex-girlfriend. Sit back and allow him to handle the conversation and introduce you. If he is truly your man, he will take the opportunity to let the ex know you are the new woman in his life. If he doesn’t introduce you as his woman, reconsider if he’s really the right man for you. 

2. Be strong.

You might think she’s prettier, smarter, skinnier, or taller than you, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing going for you. There are a million things that make you an amazing woman, and your man has recognized and appreciated these things or he wouldn’t be with you instead of her. Be confident in yourself and your relationship. 

3. Be real.

You don’t need to put on airs or try to show the ex up with what you do, how much you make, or how funny you are. You have nothing to prove to this woman, so just be natural. 

4. Be a lady.

If your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend approaches you coldly or rudely, don’t take the bait. Be the essence of grace and decorum. Show her what a real woman is like by taking the high road when she goes low. 

The Mother of His Children

The next few tips can help when dealing with the mother of your man’s children:

1. Have integrity.

If you and the ex can’t be civil, it will cause problems for your relationship. He’s never going to choose you over his children’s happiness. Even if she’s cold to you, approach her honestly to talk about your role in her children’s lives. Let her know you respect her and desire to see her children safe and happy. Give her the courtesy to get to know the woman who will be spending time with her kids. 

2. Give the ex space.

A mother will be cautious about her children spending time with another woman, especially if her relationship with your man is not in a good place. Be understanding and patient with this woman. Give her time to become comfortable with the situation and with who you are. 

3. Act like a grown up. 

If the ex has not warmed up to you after a good amount of time, be an adult and ask her to talk. Ask her about her concerns and fears, and listen without arguing. But don’t let her walk all over you. You need to respect her role in your man’s life, but she also needs to respect yours. If she’s unwilling to budge, you may want to rethink being part of her children’s lives or your man’s life. 

Harvey’s Final Thoughts

You don’t have to let a run-in with the ex be a monumental event in your relationship. If there are bad feelings between your man and his ex, let him manage them. Don’t get involved if your involvement is not requested or required.

The best thing you can do is prepare for the inevitable face-to-face with the ex. If you can come up with the worst-case scenarios and ways to manage them, you’ll be more likely to keep your cool if encounters with the ex go awry. 

Pull out a notebook and jot down five responses for the following categories:

  • Scenarios that would push my buttons
  • Trigger words that make my blood boil
  • People who will provide support when I’m upset
  • Actions that calm me down
How to Handle Your Boyfriend’s Ex-Girlfriend

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  • How to navigate the adult dating scene
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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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