When Should You Warn the New Girlfriend About Your Ex?

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July 28, 2014 - Updated March 20, 2017

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You've divorced your husband and now he's dating someone new. Should you warn her about him? After surveying just about everyone I know, the answer is... Maybe.

If your ex was just your basic ass, let the new girlfriend find out for herself. Who knows, maybe things will work out with the new love, or the one after her. After all, there is someone for everyone, even your ex. When it comes to the two of you, if you're still in deep emotional pain because of your breakup, his moving on can be really tough. It can be really tempting to try and ruin his new relationship. Vent to the new love interest every awful thing about the guy who broke your heart. But is that wise? Or fair?

But there are times when it is worth warning the new girlfriend. Those reasons include:

  • He's an addict: If he is an alcoholic, drug addict, porn addict, gambling addict, or similar, warning the new girlfriend can be a Godsend. Years ago, my soon-to-be husband's ex-wife called to warn me about his addictions. I ignored her. I wish I hadn't. And I wish she had warned me when we first started dating, not just days before our wedding. Because if I had known he was an alcoholic, our relationship would have ended before it started. Addicts can (for a short period of time) hide their addictions well while they are selling themselves to you. They are incredibly manipulative and liars. Even if your warning falls on deaf ears, you've at least done your duty. The rest is up to her.
  • He's an abuser: If he has a record of abusing children, the elderly, or even women, it is your moral and ethical duty to warn the new woman in his life. Especially if she has children, this is a safety issue. A close friend of mine married a guy who had been accused of sexually attacking his younger sister and had a prior arrest for hitting his grandmother. She has a young daughter who is now six years old. A few weeks ago, she found out that her husband was molesting her daughter. He is in jail awaiting trial. If your ex has harmed anyone, yes-- tell her.
  • He has a prison record: If he was convicted of a crime and served time in prison, you can warn the new girlfriend. I certainly would want to know, wouldn't you?
  • He is a serial cheater: I will never defend a man who has an affair. But I don't believe that constitutes a reason to tell on him. However, if he is a serial liar and cheater, that's another story entirely. If he falls under this category, I believe it's ok to warn the new girlfriend. My friend, Lia, had a boyfriend who was addicted to dating sites and cheated and lied to her throughout their relationship. Should she warn women who he's dating? Perhaps. It depends on her motives. Is it to simply embarrass her ex or is it to truly save another woman from her pain, heartache, and STDs. In this case, speaking up is perfectly OK. If I was his new love interest, I'd want to know. At least I could watch him carefully and make my own decisions on if I should move forward or not. (Oh, please, I hope for your sake, it's a big NOT, because a serial cheater isn't going to change for you or anyone else. He is simply an untrustworthy asshole, end of story.)
  • He has a personality disorder: If a guy is a true narcissist, pathological liar, or has a diagnosed mental illness, then perhaps you should warn her. Soon enough, she'll see the warning signs even if you don't, though.
  • He is a fraud: This may sound extreme but I know several women who dated a great new guy. Except he had a family she didn't know about, had swindled money from other people, who faked having a job or education or lied about his background. If your ex is a guy like this, it's ok to warn her.

So you've decided to speak up. How to do it? Openly and honestly. Don't try to anonymously contact her unless you feel your physical safety is in danger. Otherwise, call her, text her or email her your concerns. Be prepared that she will likely think you are crazy and simply jealous. Your ex will be furious. And good chance your warnings will fall on deaf ears. But perhaps not. At least you've done your part, the rest is up to her.

And, ladies, if an ex contacts you and tries to warn you about your new guy, it might be well worth it to listen. No doubt your new guy has said terrible things about this woman. But maybe, just maybe, he's the crazy one. I think any information is worth listening to. At least you can start watching for signs that maybe she's right. Do your research and pay close attention. That woman certainly knows your new guy better than you do. Perhaps the dynamics in their relationship brought out the worst in him and he will be a great partner to you. And then again, maybe he's just a terrible guy.

One thing is certain, though, unless this woman is trying to harm you, she is not your enemy. She may be your new guy's enemy, but she isn't yours. At least not in the beginning. Don't get in the middle of their drama. Be supportive of him, listen, and watch carefully. It's an important warning sign for you. Time will tell.

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