Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I am divorced and newly dating, as is my ex. We both live on an island. When married, we went to our favorite restaurants, bars, hotels and other places. What I like in terms of going out hasn’t changed since the divorce, but it feels weird going on a date to a restaurant that I celebrated my anniversary at or frequented with my ex.
I had the sense to ask him where he was taking his date last Valentine’s so we didn’t end up at the same small restaurant, which would have been very uncomfortable for all involved.
Is this just a matter of avoiding certain places, giving it time? I’m not sure, especially if my date asks me if I’ve been somewhere with my ex before.
Surrounded by Water
I think this is just a matter of pushing through the weirdness until you don’t think about it as much anymore, or at least don’t feel as upset by it. The more you hop around trying not to land anywhere meaningful, the bigger the issue becomes.
It’s also a matter of clearing this up with your dates early: “It’s an island. It’s safe to assume I’ve been everywhere with my ex before. I could dwell on that, or I could make old places seem new with a new friend.” People trump places.
Carolyn: So my ex is at the airport waiting to pick up his overseas visitor as I wait to pick up the person I’m dating. We saw each other and laughed. He asked what should we do? And he thanked me for keeping the kids on his weekend.
The, “What should we do?” answer is just roll with it. Laughing is as good a start as you can get.
I probably underplayed this in my original answer: Do not let any new dates’ insecurities mess with your mind or your plan to keep things civil. The best thing you can do to keep life around your ex from getting weird or strained is to keep your distance from people who feel weird or strained around your ex. Date a mensch – that solves most of your problems before you even have them.
To: Surrounded: As someone four years divorced who still crosses the street when I see him coming, I really sincerely admire your positive attitude. Maybe I need to live on an island.
Re: Surrounded: I live in a big city with tons of places to go. On one of my early dates with a boyfriend, he said, “Hey, I think this is the table we had the last time we came, isn’t it?” I had never been there before and said so. He insisted, “No don’t you remember? The band was 1 / 8blank 3 / 8.” I said, “NO, this is the first time (BEG ITAL)I(END ITAL) have ever been here.” He looked so mortified I couldn’t help laughing.
It became a standing joke between us, with his asking nervously if we had been to a place before and my saying, “No, that must have been your other girlfriend.” But now we have been married 12 years, so instead I say, “No, that must have been your other wife.”
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