Q: I am 16 and I have been going with my boyfriend for three months. His old girlfriend won’t leave him alone, and he won’t do anything about it. I want to tell her to stop, but he won’t let me because he says that would embarrass him. Do the rules still apply when you are younger?

A: Basically. When it comes to breaking up, people go a little loco and reason often goes right out the window. Jealousy, envy, anger, resentment, hurt or even relief are feelings we all feel, no matter our age.

The original 10 rules of good ex-etiquette to which we often refer were designed to help exes with children successfully co-parent, but they can be easily adjusted. There are really only two or three rules of the original 10 that specifically refer to having kids. The rest are guidelines for the right attitude.

If you don’t share children, why would you ever need to talk to an ex? It could be because you might still share a business, an animal, or work at the same place. Like your situation, it may not be your ex you must contend with — you may have to interact with your partner’s ex or your sister’s ex.

With that in mind, here are the Ten Rules of Good Ex Etiquette for Dating:

1. Be true to yourself (don’t concede your morals or self-esteem for someone else).

2. Stay calm when confronted.

3. No badmouthing.

4. Set clear boundaries.

5. Don’t be spiteful.

6. Don’t hold grudges.

7. Use empathy when problem solving.

8. Be honest and straightforward.

9. Respect each other’s turf.

10. Compromise whenever possible.

Even though your boyfriend may like that two girls are fighting over him, his allegiance belongs to you. That means it’s up to him to set clear boundaries (rule No. 4) with other girls.

If he doesn’t want to, that’s a big fat red flag, so take note. He doesn’t want the same thing you want — and that’s where it is important that you are clear with your boundaries.

If you want an exclusive relationship, say so. The more honest you can be with each other right from the start, no matter your age, the better.


Jann Blackstone-Ford, Ph.D., and her husband’s ex-wife, Sharyl Jupe, authors of “Exetiquette for Parents,” are the founders of Bonus Families (www.bonusfamilies.com).


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