Q. I've been with my boyfriend for two years, but his ex - with whom he has a daughter - is always trying to break us up. She makes snide remarks about me and sends him dirty texts and pictures - it feels like they are still together! We threw his daughter a birthday party last week. I took some photos and uploaded them for him to show his friends, but his ex found out and threatened to smash my laptop. I'm terrified of her, so talking to her isn't an option. I'm afraid she'll stop him seeing his daughter. How can I deal with this?
A. You can't speak to her, but I hope you can speak to him. Why did they split? If you don't know, discuss it calmly. Urge him to seek legal advice about setting up parental rights so his daughter can't be used as a pawn by his jealous ex. She imagines her child may come to love and prefer you, as her daddy does. Guilt - not love - makes him take her calls; your dignified silence is the only way to help him and discourage her. Try to smile and say 'Poor cow!' when she tries to upset you. Let him be with his daughter mostly on his own for a little while. In time, you can forge a relationship with her. Even jealousy runs its course. It won't be easy, but if you keep your cool, she'll cool down too, eventually.