A Love Square: Him, Him, Me and My Kid

Ask Demetria: Time to draw boundaries when her ex bribes their daughter for info on her new boyfriend.

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Since this situation has already devolved to the point that the guys don’t speak, it’s in your best interest to get a therapist or professional mediator involved and wrangle the men for a sit-down. A neutral professional will make sure the guys can hash out their conflict, and you and your ex can get to the root of this bribery business in a solutions-oriented environment.

If cost or phobia of professional help is an issue, this situation may be harder to sort out, but it’s not impossible. Since you may have the most leverage with your boyfriend, start by explaining to him that his conflict with your ex is affecting your daughter, and you need him to (at least try to) work out his differences with her father. They don’t have to become besties, but if they can get to being cordial, that could be a big help in defusing this situation.

Calmly ask your ex about what your daughter told you about the bribes. Ask him what it will take for him to knock it off, and see if you can get to the underlying issue of why he wants to be all up in your business.

Of course, the go-to assumption is that he’s jealous of your new relationship or bitter about the split and wants to make your life hell. But he could also just be skeptical of the new man in your life with whom he doesn’t get along, and that same man is spending more time with his daughter than he does. Another person having more access to your child than you do is a hard pill for most parents to swallow.

Because your ex is at the point where he’s bribing the child you share, I actually don’t expect this conversation to go all that smoothly. I encourage you to focus on problem solving instead of a power struggle, just as the therapist or mediator would. It’s not about being right or wrong; it’s about having peace and getting your ex out of your business.

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at askdemetria@theroot.com.

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