Hooking up with Mom’s Ex-Partner


I have a question about a relationship I am entering. I am a 32-year-old lesbian (I came out when I was 18), and my mother, 50, has also been “out” as a lesbian for as long as I can remember.

The person I am entering a relationship with is my mother’s ex partner (also 50). I was 26 and out of the house when they got together. They broke up about a year ago after a six year relationship. She has always been a great confidante to me. We have continued to stay connected, talking all the time because she and my mom have a child together.

I plan to tell my mom when things are more settled between myself and my new girlfriend [mom’s ex]. I guess my question is: should there be any issue with this? I mean, it isn’t like she was ever a mother figure for me.


Of course this will be an issue! That you even have to ask tells me you are either in deep denial or extremely self-centered.

Sleeping with your mother’s ex is never a good idea, regardless of gender or circumstances. While you never considered your mother’s ex your “other mother” technicalities won’t change the fact that you are already family by association. (Hey, it was technically acceptable for Woody Allen to marry Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter…that doesn’t stop people from thinking of it as incest.)

If there were no children in this family, I would probably leave it at that and expect to watch your mother’s reaction on an upcoming episode of Jerry Springer. But there is a child involved, so I must say more for his sake. I’m appalled that your first concern is not your young sibling (who is now potentially your step-child-to-be). I also seriously question the judgment of your mom’s ex, whose first priority should be her child, not her new love interest. How could either of you think it’s acceptable to put this child in the middle of all of this betrayal and drama? Talk about forcing children to pick sides!

And back to your mother: It’s hard enough to work through a break-up to get to a point where ex-partners can co-parent effectively and be civil with each other. It’s cruel for you to expect your mother to put on her best co-parent game face while constantly being reminded of the fact that her daughter is sleeping with her ex-partner.

End this now — out of respect to your sibling, your mother, and most importantly, yourself. Hold out for a drama-free partnership that won’t humiliate your mother and destroy your relationship with her.

12 thoughts on “Hooking up with Mom’s Ex-Partner”

  1. I think your answer is spot on. Even if this woman wasn’t a parent to her, she was clearly no casual fling to her mother. I do know someone who has slept with both a mother and daughter but the circumstances were very different. There was no child. My friend was in her 20’s and I don’t think that anything long-term was considered with either. Certainly she was not part of the family with either of them, unlike this situation.

  2. I think that you are either crazy or just plain mean. Why would you want to hurt your mother like this. Did the two of you consider what would happen to the child. Get your head out of the clouds (or where ever else it may be) and think responsible. This is not all about you, girlfriend!

  3. Abigail:

    COMPLETELY ON POINT! A very thorough and candid response.

    I can only hope she listens to and follows your excellent advice to the letter!

  4. Yikes! Of course this is a situation loaded with “issues.” As a child and family therapist, I am concerned on several (at least) levels. I believe that Abigail did a very good job of covering some very critical “issues” with your situation… your mother’s feelings and your sibling’s feelings. Also your new partner’s thinking/feelings/blindness to her former partner/current co-parent and to her child. Again, what about your sensitivity to your mother and also to your own little sibling, who can’t be all that old at this point… less than 7? Yikes! I don’t see how your situation could be disclosed without lots of betrayal, confusion and perhaps irreparable “issues.” I am glad that you had perhaps some sense to write in and ask for opinions, so that you could get some feedback. Please consider and reconsider what you do from this point on with your situation!!!

  5. Woah! Well said, Abigail.

    It always seems odd to me — but certainly part of the human experience — when people can’t seem to separate people who make good friends, or confidantes, or step-mothers, but shouldn’t become lovers. Unless this woman lives in a town with only three lesbians (her mother, her mother’s ex, and her), then it seems there are plenty of fish in the sea. Sexual tension does wane if you don’t act on it.

    My advice to your questioner: Have her be the confidante, stay connected, heck, even acknowlege the sexual tension (now seemingly consumated sexual tension) in your relationship. But leave the sex and the crazy family dymanics that result out of it.

  6. Well, I hope she hears you…and the feedback loud and clear, although I don’t think I would have came across so judgmental. If you want her to listen, I would show her you understand first. Then explain the inappropiate behavior. But then this is advice column and no relationship to worry about.

    I can relate somewhat. I have had a few of my mom’s ex’s comment about wanting to go out with me. I closed those doors as fast they came through. Way inappropiate in my opinion!

    Her situation reminds me of “incest among friends:” A group of friends who hang out regularly and end up partnering up with each others ex’s within the group. I can understand how it happens. Friends vent and comfort each other…which leads to getting involved. Boundaries people! Have respect for yourself and others. There are always consequences to our choices! Be prepared to accept them.

    In short, I hope she sees a therapist!! Work on those boundary issues.

  7. Don’t go behind your mom’s back anymore. I believe the 2 of u should set-up a time and discuss this face to face. It doesn’t sound like the best situation, but the feelings and realities need to be discussed. People can’t just be tossed away. Discuss this.

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