Why Am I Jealous of My Boyfriend’s Ex?

Why Am I Jealous of My Boyfriend’s Ex?

Oh Evan, I need your insights both from a dating expert and male perspective! I am currently dating a loving man who calls me beautiful everyday, loves me deeply and has given me absolutely no reason to mistrust him. The problem is, we shared too much about our exes and none bother me except for one woman who broke up with him (in many other cases he broke things off first).

The problem is I think her overconfidence about her looks paired with her flashy work convinced him she is really something special. They only dated briefly before she dumped him, and my boyfriend says she was flaky, shallow, and never saw a future with her. I am intelligent, more attractive and I’m not worried that he’ll go back to her, but it really bothers me that he was attracted to someone so shallow to begin with. Even after they broke up he contacted her again when he found himself in between other relationships.

So Evan, I must ask, why would he try to go back? And here’s the biggest question of all: Does his continued interest in her make him shallow/lacking in values too or does this just make him a man? I’ve never dated the toxic men you describe so often, and always thought I’d date a similar man who would laugh at these kinds of women, not pursue them, even if it’s now in his past. In your experiences, how do men deal with attractive women who dump and bruise their egos? I’ve often read that you’ve dated many very attractive (but perhaps not shallow) women, so I’d love your expert opinion. My greatest fear is not that I am second best, but that I am perceived that way. Should I just get past this or get past him? –Smith

Oh, Smith,

Let’s say I had a client named Marie. Marie is 43 and recently got out of a 10-month relationship which had no passion whatsoever. Nice guy, but he didn’t make her laugh and she didn’t respect him.

The last time she was on Match.com, she was kind of creeped out, so she decides to lay low for awhile. Maybe travel a bit, take a breather from dating, reconnect with some old friends that she’d pulled away from in her last relationship. She goes on Facebook to start the process.

I would think that just about everyone reading this can say that they’ve gotten in touch with an ex shortly after a breakup.

Browsing through names of friends, she happens upon her ex-boyfriend, Jay. Ex-boyfriend might be too strong a term – but he’s the guy that she had incredible sex with for three months back in her mid-30’s. Jay wasn’t a great communicator or ready for a relationship at the time, but he was cute and fun and smart. Marie sees that he’s single on Facebook and pops him an email: “Hey, was just thinking about you and wanted to see how you’re doing. What’s up?”

Is there anything remotely unusual about this situation? Is there anything that’s particularly hard to understand? Marie is newly single, lonely, and is grasping for some drug to make her feel good. She concludes that it would be easier to go back to an old well than to try to tap a new one. Is this a smart long-term decision? Probably not. But I would think that just about everyone reading this can say that they’ve gotten in touch with an ex shortly after a breakup.

So, Smith, your “problem” is really much ado about nothing.

You’ve got a devoted, trustworthy guy who treats you well and happens to have a hot, selfish ex in his past. What a coincidence! I have one, too!

And before she unfriended me on Facebook (because no single woman wants to see a happy ex-boyfriend with his new wife and kid), I would even occasionally look at photos of her online. Why? Because she was hot and I wanted to see what she looked like in her 40s. It’s not much more complicated than that.

If my wife were to judge me for the short-sighted, tortured, ill-fated relationships in my 20’s, instead of say, judging me exclusively on how I TREATED her, we might never have made it. Thankfully, she didn’t. And as a result, she knows all of my past sexual history and isn’t remotely threatened by it. And because she isn’t remotely threatened by it, I never feel the need to lie to her about anything. And because I never feel the need to lie to her about anything, she feels closer to me and 100% safe in our relationship.

Was my ex-girlfriend from 2000 more physically attractive than my wife? Yep.

Is my wife second-best to a woman I dumped after 4 months nearly 12 years ago?

You have got to be kidding me.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Goldie

    Could it be that he contacted this particular ex while in-between relationships because he didn’t yet feel ready for something serious, wanted to take it easy and have fun, and so reached out to someone that he knew was not LTR material? That’s what I would’ve done. In other words, nothing to worry about in my opinion.

  2. 2
    Aubrey

    I really wouldnt be worried. I think we’ve all fallen back to an ex when there is nothing else to do. I say that you judge him based on how he acts towards you and the people you know. If more red flags pop up you can start to get worried. If he ends up being shallow like you fear then get back online and get a great new picture from datingheadshots and start again!

  3. 3
    Joe

    Goldie hit the nail on the head.

  4. 4
    Julia

    And before she unfriended me on Facebook (because no single woman wants to see a happy ex-boyfriend with his new wife and kid)

    I am single and friends with all my exes on facebook, most are married and have kids…so we aren’t all that pitiful Evan.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      That’s a very insightful comment, Julia. Thanks for letting me know and clearing that up for the rest of us.

      I couldn’t have possibly said that in jest, as opposed to a literal interpretation that there are absolutely no women who are happy for their ex-boyfriends when they’re still single.

  5. 5
    Samantha

    Evan, at the end of this response you said you dumped your hot gf at the time, but in the message Smith mentions this girl dumped her now bf. Does that make a difference? Seems like you came to your senses, but what if this guy hasn’t?

  6. 6
    Alex

    I’ve had this problem! (insecurity?) My ex-boyfriend dated a college drop-out with no ambition except getting drunk every weekend and was dishonest to boot according to him. Another ex of his was ten times worse but I’ll leave out the disgusting details of that one. He took a long time getting over these women. I was always concerned that with him having been in love with girls like that – does he really value the things that I bring to the table or was he satisfied with “female” and “decently attractive”? I debated often with myself how much an ex’s qualities reflect what is important to the SO. It’s difficult to know – just like determining how much people’s friends say about their own character. I have definitely made poor dating choices but I’ve never fallen in love or seriously pursued someone of highly questionable character because that is not what I’m looking for. The terrible truth is I never felt appreciated because he had been happy with the bar set so low! Why waste my time? (This is not why we broke up, but it was hard to banish that thought)

  7. 7
    Karl R

    Smith asked:
    “I must ask, why would he try to go back?”

    Nobody does their clearest thinking on the rebound.

    Even if he was thinking clearly, he’d realize that he wasn’t ready for another relationship … but a hooking up with a hot, shallow, flaky ex doesn’t qualify as a “relationship.”

    Smith asked:
    “Does his continued interest in her make him shallow/lacking in values too or does this just make him a man?”

    Everyone I ever dated had traits I’d see as positive and traits I’d consider negative. I’m capable of remembering both sets of traits at the same time. There are some women who made bad long-term partners for me, but they were still fun to hang around with.

    It’s also possible that he was naive enough to hope she had changed.

    Smith asked:
    “In your experiences, how do men deal with attractive women who dump and bruise their egos?”

    For those of us who are mature, seasoned daters, bruised egos heal rather fast. I’m still friends with a couple women who dumped me.

    Smith asked:
    “My greatest fear is not that I am second best, but that I am perceived that way. Should I just get past this or get past him?”

    He never saw a future with her. If he sees you as second to her, then he won’t see a future with you either. If he continues to pursue a future with you, then he clearly doesn’t see you as second to her.

    You should just get past this.

    Samantha asked: (#6)
    “Smith mentions this girl dumped her now bf. Does that make a difference?”

    It can make a difference, but not in this case. If I believe a woman is flaky, shallow and has no long-term future, my opinion is going to remain the same regardless of who does the dumping.

    Samantha asked: (#6)
    “Seems like you came to your senses, but what if this guy hasn’t?”

    Then the relationship won’t last.

    But I’m not seeing a reason for Smith to torture herself with “What if” when her boyfriend’s behavior doesn’t justify it.

  8. 8
    Karl S

    Does his continued interest in her make him shallow/lacking in values too or does this just make him a man?

    Evan’s classic situation reversal gives the answer once again. There’s nothing shallow or lacking in values when you chase up someone you *know* is wrong in the long run if you’re after a bit of company and affection upon finding yourself single again, and that doesn’t make you *just a man* either – it makes you human.

    And he only did this while he was single. He’s not showing suspicious amounts of interest in her while he’s with you, right?

  9. 9
    B.

    @Karl R (#8)

    You said:
    He never saw a future with her. If he sees you as second to her, then he won’t see a future with you either. If he continues to pursue a future with you, then he clearly doesn’t see you as second to her.
    You should just get past this. 

    I’m in a situation that has some similarities to Smith’s and I have concerns that I’m his second choice. While I like to consider myself a fairly logical person, this notion never crossed my mind. So, thank you for the perspective!

  10. 10
    Christine

    I don’t think this is anything to worry about.  Who among us hasn’t made a questionable dating choice before?  It sounds to me that in picking the ex, he just made an unfortunate mistake–but it sounds like he’s learned from that experience.  I’d give the guy a break and cut him a little slack.  I once briefly dated a guy who was a “10″ in looks and looked like a walking GQ cover.  However, I then found that he was a “2″ in terms of almost everything else.  He also turned out to be shallow and narcissistic. At the time I dated him, I was going through a period of very low self-esteem.  I was with him for all the wrong reasons.  What I got from him was mostly an ego boost, in having someone that attractive (who could presumably attract a lot of women) interested in me.  However, I’m not seeing him any more because I need a lot more substance in a long term partner.  So I don’t think people always necessarily pick shallow people because they’re shallow themselves, but just because they’re flawed and human.  I don’t think we should always hold it against people just for making a mistake, so long as they have moved on from it.   

    I’ve never actually contacted an ex again, but have sometimes been tempted to do so when I’m lonely and vulnerable.  People don’t always make the most prudent decisions at those moments.

  11. 11
    priya

    You and all your reader here  know that chasing mere attraction is loosing strategy.But how many men know that Evan?
    I think a lot depends upon guy’s maturity and experiences.

  12. 12
    Zann

    I am intelligent, more attractive and I’m not worried that he’ll go back to her, but it really bothers me that he was attracted to someone so shallow to begin with.

    Hoo-boy. And how is it not shallow for Smith to not be worried based solely on the fact that she rates herself as more attractive than the evil ex (meaning, looks are what counts).

    It sounds to me like Smith is basing her own self-respect on that of her boyfriend’s relationship history. In other words, if he was hot for a shallow woman who tricked him into thinking she was more than she was, then he’s not worthy of Smith’s A-rating. Who hasn’t made bad or impulsive choices based on lust or loneliness in the past?

    Smith’s big fear seems to be that others might think she accepted second place. If she really can’t respect her boyfriend based on his history with particular women, she should let him go, because there are plenty of women out there who don’t give a rat’s ass about his previous girlfriends as long as he’s a great boyfriend in the here and now. 

    It reminds me of the woman who wrote in saying she couldn’t get over the fact that her boyfriend wouldn’t tell her she was hotter than Beyonce, or some other celebrity. If you’re really this thirsty for reassurance that you are the hottest of the hot, as well as the most intelligent and deep, no amount of reassuring is going to quell that.

  13. 13
    Chau

    My greatest fear is not that I am second best, but that I am perceived that way.

    Read that again, and you’ll see what you’re really saying- you do feel like you’re second best.

    You do see her as a threat…

    But it’s fine. You care about your relationship and you don’t want to loose.

    Have you talked to him about this? In the niiiiicest way possible?

  14. 14
    K

    I have gone through/going through a somewhat situation. My 25-year-old boyfriend proposed then seemed to wonder if the grass was greener. He and his ex started contacting each other and he hid it because he knew I would be pissed. I wondered if the fact that she was living a carefree life in a big city with no expenses and no responsibilities was a turn-on for him. I started trying to act like her and he caught on, saying that version of me wasn’t who he fell in love with. We broke up but have been close ever since, trying to work through things. After reading Evan’s blogs, I don’t check his phone anymore. I deleted my Facebook. If he talks to her still, that’s his choice but his ACTIONS show that he cares about me. And that’s what I have to go off of. 

  15. 15
    Rochelle



    I also agree with Goldie #1

    You know there’s always a positive and negative way to look at things.  The positive perspective of this translates to you being the woman he really wants (first place) and the ex was just a fall back.  He was in   relationships with other women while she was around as a friend (likely mainly because she was “hot”) and  he says he never saw a future with her.  I don’t think you have anything to worry about.


  16. 16
    maria

    I think smith is just being insecure. Smith has nothing to worry about .

  17. 17
    AnnieC

    It isn’t about who is hot, or who is the object of obsession the most.

    It’s about who wants to be with you and you want to be with him.

    There will alway’s be moments, when you think “what-if”? They may be secret little thoughts. He has them too.

    But you choose to be togther, your relationship is great, and it’s ultimately about choice and commitment, not a rush you got and can’t quite forget a long time ago.

    I’d rather be the woman who grow’s old with her fella, with kids and grandkids in tow, than the woman that was known to be the “obssession of youth”.

    What’s important in your life?

  18. 18
    Heather

    I can understand how Smith feels but it sounds like, just based upon the information that we have thus far, like she may not have much to worry about.  Now, if her guy is seeing the ex socially without Smith present, talking to her often, etc, then yes that is a big red flag.  That has happened to me before and I tried to tell my ex boyfriend that it made me uncomfortable, which resulted in my being lectured about “controlling him.”  That relationship ended fairly soon after that nonsense.

    It’s not easy, knowing about their exes.  I empathize with my guy who knows that my ex husband was physically and verbally abusive, and my guy does try to be sensitive to what I’ve been through.  I’m sure that’s not easy sometimes, when I get nervous if his voice is raised, or whatnot.  But still.  Smith’s guy seems to have chosen her in the end, not the ex. 

    Just proceed with your eyes open, Smith, that’s all we can do.  Keep eyes open and ears peeled, but push on with life.

  19. 19
    L

    What if the boyfriend of the OP contacted the ex while he was IN a relationship? I have the “problem” of a wonderful loving boyfriend who says he wants to marry me, but randomly contacted his ex “just to see how a friend was doing”. He said they don’t talk regularly and maybe see each other once every two years. He dumped her  ten years ago because he wanted to date a friend who was “more appropriate to be his girlfriend”. Should I worry that my boyfriend is seeking female attention outside our relationship? He likes staying friends with his exs and always seems to be the one re-establishing contact. Also, same question as OP - Does his continued interest in her/ his exs make him shallow/lacking in values too or does this just make him a man?

  20. 20
    Tidesareshifting

    I was wondering if a question like this would ever pop up on this forum.  I, who prides myself in being sensible and understanding, have a similar situation.  I have never felt pangs of jealousy so intense as I do with my current SO.  He does nothing to make me doubt him, he’s faithful, loving and I know he cares about me. When I think of his ex though, it about makes my blood boil.  I don’t know if I could control the urge to not plow her over with my car if I saw her walking down the street.  Well, maybe not quite that bad, but you get the idea.  I’ve never even met her, but my borderline hate for her stems from these things I believe:
    1.  They were engaged
    2.  She cheated on him and left him
    3.  She is four years younger than I
    4.  She is very pretty
    5.  I was privy to a private written conversation they had spanning a long time frame and read all about his undying love for her,  and how he thought they were soul mates, she was the only one he’d ever have a kid with and so on. 
    This is obviously something I should not have read, but I had access and took advantage of it, now I’m paying.  We haven’t gone into GREAT detail about each others ex’s but due to my snooping and checking her out online, I know a great deal about her.  I also know she tried to get a hold of him almost a year into our relationship and he ignored her, much to my delight.  It angers me that she could hurt him so much and then think he would want anything to do with her, especially after he has already moved on.  Sometimes I wonder if I’d feel better if I met her, I really don’t know.  He doesn’t know that I know all this stuff, and I don’t let my insecurities affect our relationship.  I know this is my issue, as he has done nothing to warrant untrust in me, and I do trust him.  I just don’t trust her. 

  21. 21
    star

    great post! absolutely loved it!
     
    I too have been insecure about my fiancé’s ex gf. but now I can understand why he could have made wrong decisions.

  22. 22
    Jade

    As for Smith, follow your gut. That is all I can say. All of my mistakes in my life I can reflect back on and realize I should have listened to my intuition.  
     

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