Ask Dr Gilda-My ex is badmouthing me!

Our expert explains how to withstand an ugly breakup…and return to dating with your head held high.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I’m a single mom who was dating a man for about 18 months. We met at our children’s school. When we started dating, I was uncomfortable because his ex was around a lot and he complained bitterly about her, but things went smoothly. I finally broke up with him because it seemed he was being manipulated by his ex and his kids, and I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Six weeks after our breakup, he told me how much he missed me, and we reconnected. Although we did not
When you can laugh it off, you’ll know it’s over for you.
establish that we were going to get back together, it seemed that was the direction we were heading.

Not even a week later, a friend emailed me this guy’s online profile. If that wasn’t humiliating enough, a few weeks later, another mom from school started pursuing him. I told him it was inappropriate to date yet another mother from the same school. On top of all that, I recently learned he has been spreading vicious rumors about me, as he did about his ex-wife. I do not call, email, text or even acknowledge him. How do I remedy this? I can’t stand the idea that he’s ruining my reputation at school.
– Uncomfortable at School

Dear Uncomfortable at School,
It’s understandable for you to feel “uncomfortable,” if not angry. Here’s this “player” parent more interested in bagging school moms than in disciplining his children. Further, this guy chooses to fish off the same crowded pier, changing bait frequently in full view. Too bad you were caught in his net.

But every situation in life is meant to teach us something. Here are your lessons:
  1. When you met this dude, he was bad-mouthing his ex. That’s one of my red flags for disaster. As my Gilda-Gram says, “If a date bad-mouths an ex, s/he will bad-mouth you.”
  2. He is a “get-even” guy, angry that you dumped him. He would have made a horrible life partner—so look at how lucky you are now not to be with him.
  3. After you dropped him, he manipulated his way back to you to exact revenge by luring other ladies before your eyes. You say, “He was being manipulated by his ex and his children.” So he, in turn, manipulates women he dates. He probably dislikes women, as well as himself. Oh, how lucky you are to be away from this guy!
You told him “it was inappropriate to date yet another mother from the same school.” Since he only wanted revenge, your scolding him was proof he had gotten to you. How happy this must have made him. Do you see what a sick game you were in? Where does that leave you now? Free and happy.

This is what I suggest:
  1. Continue to ignore Player-Boy’s behavior and that of the woman he’s dating. What they do is not your business.
  2. If you confront him again, this time over his nasty rumor-spreading, it may just give him additional gratification.
  3. It’s wise to continue to distance yourself from that hotbed of drama until you have no feelings about the past. Time heals all wounds, but it also wounds all heels. He’ll eventually self-destruct.
  4. As soon as you can manage, return to school functions with your head held high. Participate in the events that are important to you and your family. Don’t let him take that away from you. Chalk up your choice of this partner to a period of weakness. When you can laugh it off, you’ll know it’s over for you.
You can’t legislate against someone’s vicious tongue. You also can’t tell someone which people he can and cannot date. Read a man’s behaviors better next time, and be more discriminating. The bright side is that you would not have learned these lessons had you not experienced this pain. Pain is not fun, but it’s a valuable source of growth.

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (
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