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When it comes to single mothers dating, a couple of questions always come up if her child’s father is an active presence in her kid’s life: Should your child’s father meet your new man and how much weight should his opinion of the guy you’re dating hold as far as influencing whether you decide to move forward with him and, of course, when is the right time to introduce each other?

For starters, there is no “right time” to introduce your current boyfriend to your baby daddy, but some situations are unavoidable. The holidays are a good example; I’m sure many of you navigated the awkward conversations that ensued as children exchanged hands and homes in an attempt to honor the holiday spirit with some form of tensely negotiated civility. Still, holidays or regular days, introducing your current beau to your old beau is always complicated. It’s only further complicated when there is a child involved. But there are a few considerations you can follow to make this already awkward situation slightly less awkward.

Be Honest About the Status of Your Relationship with Your Baby Daddy

In theory, your baby daddy should have little to no influence over any of your future relationships, but in the real world, Isht happens. First and foremost, it’s important that you and your current boyfriend are on the same page. I’m not saying you have to unite as one force as if you’re calling on Captain Planet to defeat the toxicity of your prior relationship. I am saying that you and your new man need to have an honest discussion about what you both deem as important for the child, the influence you believe your child’s father should have on the current relationship (if any), and if it’s important to you that in the everlasting words of Rodney King, “we all get along.”

It’s equally important that you’re honest about the overall status of your relationship with your ex. This includes being honest with your current boyfriend and with yourself. If you’re still in love with your baby daddy, have feelings for your baby daddy, or you’re only bidding your time with your new man until your baby daddy decides that he wants to take you back, these are all things that should be communicated.

I’ve been in situations where I only realized afterwards that I was merely a pawn in a much more complicated ex-relationship chess match. Some women use the men they date subsequent to their baby daddy only to make him jealous, which is fine, as long as the new man is aware of his role. Some men are perfectly fine with being the side-man. Like side-women, most men are generally content with the status of the relationship as long as they know the role they are expected to play. What’s not fair is to pretend like you’re building a legitimate and “moving on” when you know damn well your heart (and other organs) still belong to your baby daddy. If the new relationship is nothing more than a complicated charades game to get your ex to start caring about you again, just be honest with yourself and your new man. It’ll save everyone a lot of headaches and heartaches.

On the other hand, let’s say you’re over your ex but your ex isn’t over you. This is also important information to share with any new man in your life. I know dealing with kids and emotions complicates things but somebody has to be the adult in the situation – and it likely won’t be the kids. If your baby daddy 1) hates you; or 2) equally as bad, is still in love with you, this is the type of info the new man in your life should know about. You don’t have to tell him on the first date, but he shouldn’t find out when your baby daddy is chasing you, him, or both down the street with a sawed off shotgun. For example, I once dated girl who “got along fine” with her baby daddy. You can imagine my surprise when I started receiving anonymous text messages ranging from pleas to leave her alone to threats to kill us both if we kept dating. We all know that some men, exes or otherwise, believe in the motto, “once mine, always mine.”

I know you can’t be expected to control another human being, especially if that human being happens to be your child’s father and is bat Isht crazy, but what you can do is let me know your ex-man is crazy and deranged so I at least know what I’m getting myself into sooner rather than later. I shouldn’t have to find out your baby daddy is crazy after he does something crazy if he has a history of doing crazy Isht. If we’re going to be in a relationship together this is the kind of information you should share early on.

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