How Close Should My Boyfriend Be With His Ex?

How Close Should My Boyfriend Be With His Ex?
Evan,
This may be an age-old question. My boyfriend is best friends with his ex-girlfriend. They dated for two and a half years, broke up 5 years ago, have many mutual friends. They met in graduate school and went through some hard times together, so I understand why they stay friends.

However, they are way too close. They talk on the phone 2-3 times a week, meet up for lunch/dinner. My boyfriend once told me she’s so important to him that if we ever get married and have a house, she would be invited to our house for holiday dinners. The first time I met his mom, she could not stop talking about the ex. She told me their entire dating story, why they broke up, how the ex-girlfriend’s parents still think my boyfriend is the best guy for her (oh yeah, the mom is also good friends with the ex girlfriend’s parents). Of course, I was annoyed but maintained my cool. I did have a discussion with my boyfriend after this incident, and he thought his mom was inappropriate.

The ex-girlfriend also will not stop posting on his Facebook wall almost daily, with intimate posts (“awww… your stress won’t last much longer”), pictures of their families having thanksgiving dinner last year before we started dating, pictures of them dancing together back in graduate school, etc.

I don’t think her intentions are pure. I trust my boyfriend 100% and I really don’t think he’ll cheat on me with her. I just think the whole situation is disrespectful to me and her behavior is very inappropriate. He’s letting her do that to me and to our relationship. He refuses to distance himself from her and thinks I’m being unreasonable by asking him to do so. I have met the ex-girlfriend. She was extremely nice to me, so much so it felt unnatural since she doesn’t know me at all.

 

 

 

So, my question is what kind of friendship with the ex is too much? Where do we draw the line? Am I being a jealous girlfriend to feel the way I feel? I have dated guys who were on civil terms with their exes and I was even friends with the exes, so I really don’t think I have jealousy or insecurity tendencies, it’s just that this situation makes me really uncomfortable. –Irene

Some men are better boyfriends than husbands.

Dear Irene,

Your story reminded me of someone I know – a female friend who has a similar relationship with her ex-boyfriend. It seems pretty clear from the outside that the ex-boyfriend is her best friend and “soulmate”, while the husband is merely the father to her children. The husband provides money and stability, but they don’t truly connect the way she does with her ex. The husband seems to accept this and there is virtually no probability that she would leave him for the man she dumped seven years ago. Some men are better boyfriends than husbands, she concluded. And she’s right.

Which is why I’m not willing to go out on a limb and suggest that you’re in the same situation. After all, I don’t have all the facts. Among the important ones:

How old are you? 35-year-olds are usually better decision makers than 25-year-olds. They’re often better able to separate relationships into different components and can see things clearer in retrospect. I have a number of girlfriends that I’m appalled that I ever dated, a handful of girlfriends who were wonderful whom I didn’t appreciate, and a few girlfriends that really, would have been better off as friends. I’m guessing this guy is no different.

How long have you and your boyfriend been together? If you’re a recent couple, you don’t really have a right to say anything about how he lives his life. You don’t have any leverage on a man until he loves you, and the more you pressure him to change, the less likely he’s going to be busting out the “L-Word” any time soon.

Nothing makes a man want to cheat (or leave) more than a girlfriend who doesn’t trust him.

And the most important fact that we’re not privy to…

Who dumped whom? Usually, the person who got dumped is the one who still wanted to be in the relationship. The person who did the dumping is the one who thought long and hard about whether it was a wise decision to end a 2 ½ year relationship. If your boyfriend concluded that, all things considered, his ex was not a good fit for him in the longterm, whether its due to different views on sex, money, religion, or personality conflicts, then that’s all you need to know. Ask yourself this: would YOU take back anyone that you’ve dumped? That’s right. Neither would we.

And the real truth is that I wouldn’t take back anyone who dumped me either. Sure, at the time, I was reeling, and wishing things could be different. But then the smoke began to clear and I started to see my ex’s for what they were – normal, flawed women, not visions of perfection like I made them out to be. So even those who dumped me wouldn’t get a second shake today. Think about the men who dumped you and whether you’d truly take them back. I’m guessing you wouldn’t.

At the end of the day, it’s not my place to say whether they’re “too close”. Two to three times a week does seem excessive, I’ll admit. What I would probably suggest is that if you’re “the one” for your boyfriend, he’ll start to show it in his actions and won’t want to spend as much time and energy on his ex. You won’t have to say anything at all to make it happen. If you find you’re not getting your relationship needs met, you can leave. In the meantime, get out of your own way. You’re getting yourself tied up in knots and it’s surely not serving your goal of maintaining a healthy relationship with your boyfriend.

You’re the one who just said you trust him 100%.

You’re the one who said he won’t cheat with her.

How about you start living your life like it?

Because nothing makes a man want to cheat (or leave) more than a girlfriend who doesn’t trust him.

As I’ve said many, many times before, it’s either full trust or no trust.

What do you think is going to lead to a better relationship.

And if anyone wants to get on my case about telling her to accept her boyfriend’s behavior, please go back to that paragraph where I said that if she’s not getting her relationship needs met, she should leave. But if she’s GOING to be in the relationship, the way to handle it is to be trusting, not edgy and jealous.

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Comments:

  1. 61
    Colleen

    I am in a similar situation but his ex doesn’t know about me after a year. They talk text weekly he says shes his best friend he broke up with her and is not attracted to her she tries to buy his love. He told me recently she texted him she needed a hug ( he hasnt seen her since we broke up 6 months ago shes his inbetween relationship date) he said they made plans for dinner next week… So I said great can I come along been wanting to meet her  … He said sure… will see if he ever goes to the dinner with me dont think hes ready to tell her about me weird huh? If he would have said no I cant come I would be rethinking my relationship with him. All my needs are getting met so this is just trying to work with it in my own way . i agree with Evan if your needs outside of this are not getting met next him. Byw Love you Evan miss the inner circle forum! 

  2. 62
    GL

    I have to say I don’t think this ex’s intentions are pure either. I think she is trying to be sneaky with actively posting pictures of them together on Facebook. OK so if talking 2-3 times a week and getting lunch and dinner isn’t satisfactory she is going out of her way to remind him of what it was like in their relationship. I have reason to believe that someone was doing this with an ex of mine. It’s like…don’t they have another boyfriend to post pictures of? Didn’t that relationship end? Why are they leaving these old pictures of their relationship if it’s over? If I were Irene, I would try to have a conversation about this. Discuss all your fears. If he isn’t saying the right things…well you will have to accept this or leave. I think a lot of people would be very uncomfortable with this. At the very least, she’s nice to you and your boyfriend is honest about it. Foster that, it’s a plus.  My Dad and Mom had a mutual friend since before I was born. My Dad had dated her. Every so often, he would visit her solo, but rarely. She was mostly around for family affairs, not emotional support. Maybe in time this girl will give up. I think it’s WEIRD when exes still have close involvement like that, but some people can really do it!

  3. 63
    Allezia

    I dont know your relationship so I can’t say anything for certain. I can however tell you about a situation I’ve been in. My current boyfriend and I started dating 2 years ago a month after he had broken up with his ex. He broke it off with her cause we had hit it off and were getting closer as the months went by and i refused to assist him in cheating on her, he got an ultimatum. He left her and I thought we were happy, but he would often try to tell me things about their failed relationship or mention that she had contacted him. It made me uncomfortable that they spoke together that soon after ending the relationship and I expressed my discomfort. He denied that there was anything and refused to “dump” her as a friend because he cared about her. He also claimed he had no feelings for her, he was with me and was happy and insisted she had also moved on with her life. I decided I wasn’t interested in keeping a relationship where my feelings weren’t prioritized so I told him I wanted a break, which turned into a full break up since neither of us contacted each other. Fast forward 6 months, he calls me and wants to talk. It turns out he had at the time some confused feelings about his ex and about getting into a relationship so quickly after they broke up and admitted that he ja thought he still might have feelings for her. After talking to her during our break he realized that he didn’t, and that the relationship was 100 % over. He asked for a second chance and I gave him one. We are madly in love and have been for the past year and at my request he has no contact with her at all, nor does he want to. I also know that he loves me now and would be willing to do anything I would ask of him. The morale of this story is to explain that if  he is disregarding your feelings, you are not his priority. Always trust a man when he shows you how he feels and never listen to words, often they will tell you what they themselves want to be true, but they will always do what is actually true in their hearts. Don’t analyze things too much and don’t be afraid to walk away. if he loves you he will prioritize you and listen to you. Your opinions will matter to him and he will do anything to make you happy. Talking to his ex girlfriend and seeing her regularly speaks volumes to me and no one can tell you what is right for you. However, I always tell everyone, don’t compromise how you feel and what you want because you are afraid. if you lose him because of someone else, he was only temporarily you’re.

    1. 63.1
      Jen

      Allezia, 

      It’s probably been ages since you posted this, but thank you for your response. It is really helping me. My situation is very similar to yours, only I didn’t stay away long enough. Six months is what it should have been, and maybe now I will do just that. I stayed away only a matter of weeks until he came back and said he was sure he wanted only me, and was getting her out of his life. We have such an intense love and attraction – at our best, we inspire each other to be better people and I have never loved anyone this intensely – but I met him too soon after his breakup of 12 years. Things were going well after I accepted him back this past August, after we broke up because he was hanging out with her all too often. At least, I thought they were going well. 

      Fast forward to this week: I hadn’t heard about her in ages and thought she had finally moved on, until I found out this past weekend that they hung out for the entire day that we were supposed to be together, and he didn’t tell me. “Just as friends,’ he said, but it broke my heart. She is still in love with him and I knew it would only be a matter of time until she was back (she does the Facebook posting also, which is awkward since now their friends all think they’re back together. He’s asked her to remove some photos but she keeps putting them up – as she did this past Sunday, which is sadly how I found out). When I finally asked him directly he admitted it to me. I believe him that they didn’t cross any physical lines, but I know she wants him back and this is emotional cheating. He denies there’s anything left but come on. Why lie about it?  I can’t be involved in this crap. If he wants to see her that badly – then fine. I can’t control that but I need to be away from it. Oh, did I mention she doesn’t know we’re back together? 

      I should have been stronger and just stayed away, let this thing play out however it was going to play out between them. A couple of weeks of us being apart wasn’t enough time to really put actions behind his words and to be sure he was really finished with her (if he even is).

      You’ve inspired me to be stronger, Allezia. He and I work together and I’m leaving next week for a new job opportunity, so it will be good to have the space. My plan isn’t a dramatic breakup because that would make my last week of work even more difficult emotionally: I’m just being cordial and keeping my distance, making it clear I’m not his girlfriend (yes, I’m avoiding a dramatic ending because I’ve got too much on my plate at the moment). We’re doing group events and I keep saying I’m too busy for anything else.

      However, my decision is clear: I can’t do this anymore. I can’t put my trust in someone who hasn’t yet closed the book on his past life. Now I need to move forward and if he catches up with me sometime down the road, then it’s meant to be. If not, oh well. I love him so much that I’m okay letting him go. I’ll be sad, but I know I’ll survive. 

  4. 64
    Renee

    I think boyfriend and mom are being very disrespectful of the new girlfriend this is not looking good. I don’t see him as cutting down on the contact, but sneaking if she  tells him she doesn’t like it. I catch up- over the phone every couple of months- with a man I was with for three years. I am friends with his cousins. I don’t go to their family functions, the new woman does, as is appropriate. I have a family.
    I also have a new boyfriend of 7 mths that is way too close to his ex. He talks on the phone weekly that I know of. She is married and lives several hours away. He thinks we should meet, as she is staying at his place this very wknd. I don’t see him as ever cheating, it’s not  that. What I am bothered by is his deep emotional attachment with her. They lived together 14 yrs, have been apart for 5 and said that was mutual. He says she is his family as he has none. HE thought they could share the bed when she stayed as it is only sleeping and they have done it before and he only has one bed. I said no to that or I’m done here.He respected my wishes on that but she will be spending three days with him and I am here. He wants us to meet for a drink and the thought of it does NOT feel good to me. I feel like I’m in a threesome. It’s like men that can’t cut the cord with mom, only it’s an ex and WE are middle aged.

  5. 65
    Sonia_blade

    I went through something similar and it ruined my relationship with my sons father.  Lets just say I have MAJOR trust issues with him for that now.  My mother-in-law and his family were the same and it caused to much tension.  In my case though they both lied about their friendship and would hide it from me because they didnt want to “‘hurt”‘ my feelings.

    I have ex’s that are friends, but not to that extent. Its a hello whenever I bump into them on the street or a Happy Birthday if i remember. After this incident, I would say that a relationship with an ex that is that close, is not a good idea unless you actually TRULY are ok with it.   I feel like NO friend ex or platonic should ever come between any relationship.  Family members are the only ones that should always be there.

  6. 66
    JimmycrackCorns

    regardless of how we title relationships, what is really the most important is the Relation –  Ship  between two people. Your significant other should be your best friend, but not your ONLY friend, and if they are best, they cant really complain if someone else is just as close in some ways.
        Your significant other is supposed to be someone you can trust, and it goes both ways; you cant trust someone if you are unable to get past their other relationships, but you also can NOT trust someone who doesnt accept your feelings and relationships with other people around you.
         If a person was in love with their ex, theyd leave, and date them. Staying with someone and keeping close friends, shows the partner that their lovers relationship with themselves is higher even than the closer friendships.

       In short, no internet article is going to be a substitution for real communication with your partner about their feelings =)

  7. 67
    gemma

    Advice: spend some time on yourself and keep your options open. 
    Seek out activities that make you feel and look amazing and confident. Casually date other men say at a charity speed date,  he’ll see you being fun, confident and truly loving yourself. That’ll turn him on like 100000000000 % and make this ex of his seem desperate. Be polite to her if you see her, genuinely compliment her when he sees how cool you’re being with this,  it will set you apart from her in a great way. Genuinely do not make yourself too available for him and you do not need to explain every detail of your plans,  leave a little mystery, even if it’s a night in lol with a bottle and a dvd. It’s your ‘ you ‘ time. Can I suggest a new perspective. Look at the relationship you want and how that will meet your needs,  your deal breakers and let that guide you,  follow your female intuition, if you are ready to settle then be picky with the men,  as before. Go on casual dates enjoy the company of other males!  Who knows the right guy for you could be round the corner and the last thing you’d want is to be saddled with a man who has more.baggage than BRITISH AIRWAYS flight who your playing second fiddle to an old flame!  Goodluck be your amazing self as there’s only one beautiful you in this world x

  8. 68
    Linda

    I’m dating a man who has a handful of female friends – mostly ex’s. One recently moved to our city and is calling regularly – my guy wants to include her in our outings so she can meet more people. Another ex (who dumped him 5 years ago) often drops by and they do favors for one another. They talk regularly because he knows a lot about her comings and goings. Another women (married) friend used to come to his house for coffee almost every morning and they used to walk their dogs together -that stopped when his dog died and now she only comes about once a week. I know that she does this out of respect for me and I really appreciate that and do not feel threatened by her, although when it was an every day thing it bothered me.
    I must admit it’s stressing me out about the other two women. It’s them I don’t trust because of their lack of respect for me. I’m quite sure that the one who recently moved back to our city came back for him.
    My guy knows it bothers me but he does not seem to have any boundaries with these women and wants to remain friends with them. I suppose …..either that or we wants to have his cake and is not capable of having a true committed relationship.
    I recently told him that I am considering connecting with a couple of my ex’s. Maybe there is something to it and I’m missing out on a good thing. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander!! I wish that felt like a good decision but I really don’t think that is the answer.
    I’m actually seeing a counselor about it tomorrow – part of my angst is due to my own upbringing and my father cheating on my mom with other woman. I would like to clear that pain and hoping that will help me with my jealousy over other women and my man.
    Even if I end up dumping his ass at least I will have cleared some of my past issues.
     
     

  9. 69
    Amy Leese

    Hi I went through a similar but less exaggerated situation. I’d only been with my boyfriend for 3 months. Note that I am 8 years older than him. Before we went on our first date, his ex, who is the same age, posted a photo of the two of them in a cafe on facebook.
    I was confused and had to ask if he really was single. He assured me they were just friends and that she has trouble letting him go, but he won’t get back together with her, despite his  continued friendship with her.
    For the next three months, we had an amazing time getting to know each other, in the honeymoon stages if you will. Then,  it came crashing down. On a random night out, he pulled out his phone and on it was a text from her, asking him if she could stay over, because she is in town.
    It sent all sorts of alarm bells ringing. I promptly responded by saying he needs to manage the boundaries with her, because I will not put up with her inappropriate behaviour. He phoned her a couple of days later, laid out the situation, and why she can not act like this. He said she understood, and was sorry. This, however, I really did not believe.
    Then, we went to Poland for his birthday, and he went with her a couple of years ago. So, on his birthday, even after he laid out the boundaries, she posted an inappropriate message about how he shouldnt go back to that hostal they stayed in before (where they had sex), but how she hopes he has a great birthday. I know she was doing that because she doesnt want him to forget her. But its abit sad all the same.
    In my mind, she was never going to give up so he called her again and said she should have no contact because her behaviour was causing friction, and causing me pain.
    He did all the right things, but by that time, the damage was already done. I now pictured a crazied ex, who was going to show up at the events we were going to and dinners we’d organized. She didnt show up to any of them, but it made me a bit  of a mess. Where I was a confident, loving girlfriend, suddenly I became a paranoid, mistrusting and cynical woman… no one would want to date me. The ex-effect.
    In the end I wondered if it was worth it, whether or not I should continue, because it was making me so unhappy.  But after a very long and difficult conversation, he assured me she had not contacted him at all, not even by text. I had to understand the reasons why he wanted to continue his friendship with her. Turns out hes always looked after her, and that he couldn’t stop doing so. He wanted to see her grow up, and mature. I felt as if his paternal instincts and her frequent issues made him feel wanted.
    However, he was used to putting up with her selfish and immature behaviour  in their relationship, he didn’t think to question it anymore. That was until I came into the picture. 
    In the end, I realised though, that hes done all that’s possible to make me feel secure. If I cant get over it, then Ill lose someone I love dearly. We did come close to breaking up that evening but it was at that point I realised how important he is to me. So in the end, I also need to move on, trust him, and not let his ex get the better of me.
     

  10. 70
    Anne

    Honestly, I think this kind of “chronology” has some kind of emotional retardedness at its basis. If you are doing things with your new partner and you are emotionally healthy, you will naturally forget about your ex and will not want to keep contact with them. If you don’t, then you are probably not emotionally calibrated. It’s just my view. Emotional calibration is natural, biological thing. It comes when you do social and biological things with your CURRENT partner, with a full focus. If it doesn’t calibrate, it’s like when you have twisted joint. You go get help to have it fixed. Better have someone put that joint in order even with lots of pain involved than to pretend your joint is healthy when it obviously isn’t.

  11. 71
    Jenny Lane

    RUN!! People do get back together – My Last Boyfriend Was Living with his ex girlfriend after she dumped him two years prior to that. I told him I didn’t want to pursue a relationship with him if he was going to continue living with her – We only dated for two months – but they were super intense and I was In LOVE and So was he… But after declaring his love for me on a Friday Night – The next Saturday The Ex Decides she wants another chance with him after he tells her she needs a new roomate and he is moving out to pursue a life with me – (he also pays for her life completely) So he responds to the tug on the choke chain and dumps me the next day. I am still heart broken nearly a year later – If you are in a relationship with a man – you have to be his number one woman and his only go to woman ( only sisters and cousins and mothers are other acceptable women for him to turn to) You will always wonder if you are second best – and chances are if he never lets go you are :(

  12. 72
    cat

    I broke up with an exboyfriend for the same reason… he went back with his ex. Everyone’s story may vary though.

  13. 73
    Michele

    It does take put a strain on a rrelationship big time…my common law boyfriend has an ex he’s known since he’s 12…he’s now 44….they are friends and get along but I feel often at my expence. She ways calling and using their son as an excuse I think to still manipulate and control him after 12yrs of divorce.  She’s remarried but finds the need to be the centre of attention and control her current husband and her ex…it’s very difficult and its a learning process. The fact that I love him keeps me here …but in the same sense resentment is here too…I guess u gotta look at the fact he is with you and if u can look past an immature ex…them that’s have the battle…..just sucks feeling second best at times….everyone deserves  to feel like they are the most important in a rrelationship 

  14. 74
    Barbara

    I have a boyfriend whose ex shows up at all his gigs, interjects herself into our life to the point that she has dinner with him and I’m now being told NOT to come to his gigs because amongst other things I think he should sit with me. I had tried one time reserving a table and his ex-girlfriend got the table.

    When I would go to his gigs I would have to sit with the ex-girlfriend. She DOES NOT have a boyfriend and she is works three jobs. She goes without sleep just so she can see him. His musician friends who sit with him … end up sitting with her because … naturally he is seated at her table.

    After about a year of this I’m fed up. He’s accusing me of going to his gigs to see her. I ACTUALLY show up at the end of his gigs hoping not to see her … and then I do … she’s dutifully standing in line for his food. He mentions he needs a napkin she runs to fetch one.

    1. 74.1
      starthrower68

      Leave him. He’s shown you where you stand.

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