What Not to Do When You’re Meeting Your Older Man’s Ex-Wife for the First Time: Part 1

Although my rela­tion­ship with my older man wasn’t clas­si­fied as “cheat­ing” or adul­ter­ous, since we were both tech­ni­cally sin­gle, there was still a tinge of illic­it­ness to it. Patrick was still close to his ex-wife with whom he had had three chil­dren. In fact, they worked together at the com­pany he founded. And she was not just some sec­re­tary or admin­is­tra­tive assis­tant; she was the chief of oper­a­tions, which means she was respon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the staff and mak­ing day-to-day admin­is­tra­tive and finan­cial deci­sions. Two of his grown chil­dren also worked there, but the ex-wife seemed to be the first and biggest hur­dle for me.

Patrick insisted that I meet her at the com­pany head­quar­ters. I resisted the loca­tion, point­ing out that some place more neu­tral might be best, but he assured me it would be very friendly and it was impor­tant to him. After some con­vinc­ing, I agreed to meet him there after work one day.

On a Thurs­day after­noon around 5:30 p.m., I hailed a cab in rush hour and took the 20-minute ride over to their cor­po­rate build­ing. It was prime real estate in Chicago, close to the trendi­est neigh­bor­hood just north of the Loop. I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I was greeted by a recep­tion­ist and after I told her I was there to see Patrick, she told me to take a seat. She offered me cof­fee, which I declined, think­ing Patrick would be there in a minute or two. After 30 min­utes, he finally came to get me. He was very apolo­getic and explained that he had been in a meet­ing he just couldn’t walk out of. I told him I under­stood and didn’t make a big deal out of it.

Patrick and I then pro­ceeded into the main office, where he steered me—holding me affec­tion­ately by the elbow—into his ex-wife’s office. We were in her ter­ri­tory, which meant she had yet another leg up over me…