My Ex-Boyfriend Recently Contacted Me, But I Am In A Serious Relationship.

Evan,

I have been with my boyfriend for a little over two years now. We live together, plan to have a house in the next year, and get married. But recently an ex-boyfriend got in contact with me that I haven’t seen in about three years.

What is very confusing for me is that I fell hard for my ex and everything was going fine and then he dumped me out of the blue. It was a pretty good, clean break, and I accepted it and moved on but there was one problem, I was pregnant.

Many people would say he was a typical guy, but he wasn’t. He lost his virginity to me, and that’s impressive seeing that he was well into his twenties! He told me he was afraid of what we would be and I believed him. He was obviously not ready to have a child, and apparently not ready to break a promise to himself that not many men make. I tried to talk with him until I lost the baby due to complications. Ever since then I try to never look back. I never talk about the daughter I once had and lost, even with my boyfriend now.

Basically, I have no idea what my ex wants. Why would he contact me out of the blue and ask for casual conversation? He hasn’t even brought up the fact that he basically left when I was going through all that horrifying stuff. It makes me hurt and I want to ask him why he did that. I’m also afraid that my current boyfriend will be hurt that I still care. Most importantly, does he really want to know what I am up to or does he want more? I’m afraid to ask.

-Definitely Confused

Dear DC,

Let me share with you that your feelings of confusion are normal.

Let me share with you also that your feelings of confusion are also highly destructive.

Read your letter again. It’s like you’re the poster child for bright, emotionally irrational women everywhere…

You live with your boyfriend, you’re buying a house, you have marriage on the horizon…and you’re seriously contemplating what to do with the guy who dumped you when you were pregnant?

Read your letter again. It’s like you’re the poster child for bright, emotionally irrational women everywhere – the ones who let their strong sentiments for a toxic man cloud their judgment so thoroughly that they seriously consider undermining a healthy relationship.

I could only imagine if my wife were the same way. After all, in late 2009, she got a call from her serious ex-boyfriend from nearly 15 years ago. (I think this one cheated on her; I’ve lost track). Anyway, he was just “checking in” to see how she was doing. This is not-so-thinly veiled code for “My life hasn’t gone according to plan, so please let me know if you’re still single, because if you are, I’d like to start sleeping with you as soon as possible”. And, in fact, as soon as my wife informed her ex that she was happily married, he didn’t see fit to continue the conversation much longer. So much for “getting back in touch.”

Your best revenge is your own happiness – not getting closure from some dick who couldn’t stick by you during your most trying hours.

Remember, guys are simple and guys are selfish. And if all it takes is a phone call out of the blue to make you second guess your entire healthy relationship, who’s to blame your ex for trying? Best case fictional scenario for you: the ex says that you’ve been weighing on his conscience and he wants to apologize for all the pain he caused you and wish you well in your new life. But that’s pure fantasy. A more realistic scenario would be the one in which he gets you to cheat on your boyfriend without actually leaving him (that way he won’t have to deal with those sticky commitment issues). And after a few rolls in the hay and after destroying your ability to trust yourself, he goes back to his old ways and disappears into the night.

Be smart, DC. Tell your ex that you wish him well but that you’re in a happy relationship and have no desire to see him again. Your best revenge is your own happiness – not getting closure from some dick who couldn’t stick by you during your most trying hours.

For your own sake, sweetie, let it rest.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Shay

    Bravo, Evan! Bravo!

  2. 2
    Simone

    I would go a step further: Have nothing to do with him whatsoever. Do not respond to his communications at all. There is nothing he can say or do to make up for his awful, irresponsible, and cruel betrayal of you. And I doubt very much that he is inclined to do so, anyway. He has something else in mind, I”m sure, and it probably isn’t good.

    He probably expects you to respond with softness and understanding–you’re probably that kind of person, which is why he felt it was OK to abandon you so insensitively (you were the keeper of sensitivity in the relationship and he was the one who needed all the help, right?). Now is your opportunity to help him grow up: Show him that he does not get unlimited access to female good stuff, that he has to man up if he wants it. The most important thing you can give him now is the lesson that when he f**** up there will be a price to pay.

    But if you want more of the same kind of treatment from him (in a different guise, of course), then do engage in communication. Evan isn’t sympathetic to whatever it is in us women that keeps sending us back for more abuse. I think it’s some kind of nurturing impulse gone awry, so I don’t judge it as harshly as he does. We want to keep that soft part of us that can mend fences and understand others’ behavior and soothe the hurt. That kind of vulnerability leaves us open to being taken advantage of. The trick is to learn to set up boundaries so that we can exercise those female skills wisely. Eventually we do learn how to do that. Pity it’s such a painful learning process.

    1. 2.1
      Venus envy

      Simone , 

      In reply to your comment to DC , all this you said makes so much sense , and you’ve said it so beautifully too ( i know its not the exact occassion to judge your comment) But i wish i had heard this few years back , when i had a similiar experience regarding my one and only ex who i met when i was 24. (Im now 34) And since then i have met guys ,but it hasn’t gone beyond friendship , as i have issues myself.. mainly a deep fear of rejection). No excuses but i agree sometimes women , we know it that we shouldn’t but  we want to maintain that soft touch. But absolutely true its best to chanel it the right way , in a win – win situation. But DC  , coming back to your situation if he wasn’t there for you when he was supposed to be there , i don’t see what type of value he maybe capable of adding to your life now? When you have moved on. Don’t go back into again. Don’t spoil the fresh and newness of your life with the darkness that as you described you found hard to get out off. 
       

  3. 3
    Shay

    DC, your story is in the soaps.

    If you’re strong, let him know that there is a price to pay for your affection and it isn’t cheap. It takes the commitment of your current boyfriend. And walk away with your head high.

    However, if you’re not confident of yourself, just ignore him. Make no contact like what Simone says.

  4. 4
    Ava

    I basically agree with everything Evan is saying here. But I have a question. Evan has touched on something that has been bothering me for awhile. He says that “guys are simple and guys are selfish” and “who’s to blame” the ex for trying to rekindle something, if DC lets him. But at the end of his post, he calls the ex a “dick” who abandoned his girlfriend when she needed him most. So is the ex really a bad guy, or just an average one? Should we expect this kind of jerky behavior from all men, because “boys will be boys”? Partly, I ask this question in an attempt to understand the male mind, and partly because I wonder if we are too willing to accept this sort of bad behavior as part of the status quo, and as “typical male” behavior. Shouldn’t we expect more from people in general and not just accept sub-standard behavior from guys because “that’s just how men are”?

  5. 5
    Bridget

    I’m happy Evan finally addressed this issue. I think most women have had an ex make contact with them again after an extended period of time.
    I myself have had this happen a few times, and it was always a man that toxic, not the good ones. I think it’s so frustrating because it’s so selfish of a man to just “pop” back into your life when he feels like it, without any concern for your feelings or your current situation. It’s like they feel entitled to do what they want because only their only happiness matters. Of course, I also took pleasure in telling them to get lost, someones in a not so polite way depending on how bad they were….
    I really hope DC comes to her senses and tells him to **** off. Clearly he has nothing better going on in his life, and he’s going down his list of ex’s hoping to find one that takes pity on him…

  6. 6
    Evan Marc Katz

    I’m gonna quickly jump in and out to address Ava:

    Yes, yes, and yes.

    Yes, guys are simple. Yes, guys are selfish. And yes, this is the behavior of a typical, average guy. He doesn’t see it as malicious – he’s just following his own self interest. If she lets him back into her life, great. If not, no big deal.

    And, no, you shouldn’t expect more from people in general because that’s just how guys are.

    What you CAN do is TOLERATE less from such men, and cut them out of your life, as opposed to complaining that they don’t change. You’ve nailed the essential premise of this entire blog, Ava.

    Don’t expect men to change for you – because they won’t, but don’t tolerate their selfish bullshit either. I hope that distinction is now clearer.

  7. 7
    Warm Heart

    Amen Evan!

  8. 8
    Ava

    Thanks, Evan. I get what you’re saying up to a point. But if this representative of the typical, average man, then aren’t we women going to be constantly cutting guys out of our lives? I don’t mean to sound dense, or harp on the same subject, but are you saying that Dc’s ex was a jerk to her, but he might be a stellar boyfriend at some point down the line with someone else? Or maybe even with her? Is it an accident of timing? Or is it once a jerk, always a jerk?

  9. 9
    Evan Marc Katz

    I think you’re looking for a black and white answer in a very grey world. It doesn’t matter whether he cleans up his act in 5 years for another woman. If he’s not treating YOU consistently well, leave him. It’s the ONLY solution for dealing with a dissatisfying relationship. Find the man who DOES treat you well instead of complaining about the men who don’t.

  10. 10
    sayanta

    I can see what both Evan and Ava are saying. Yes, if a guy’s not treating you well, leave him. At the same time, Ava’s point kind of makes me too- with the description that EMK’s given, won’t we really be constantly cutting guys out of our lives at some point? I don’t know- all this is a little like trying to figure out the Rubik’s cube.

  11. 11
    sayanta

    ok, that “makes me too” made no sense. I meant “makes me think too”

  12. 12
    Simone

    This string of posts about guys being selfish, jerks, etc. is why I say have no contact whatsoever with him. If guys are so simple and jerky, only a strong act of rejection–not even deigning to speak to him–will get the message through. Believe me, it works. And you feel so good when you don’t even stoop to acknowledge such a loser of a human.

  13. 13
    Steve

    I have to say some there are some bigots in this comment section.
    Both women and men have been know to be selfish with exes and currents. I personally have had an ex-interest, now ex-friend get jealous and try to sabotage a developing “item” I had going with a new woman LONG after we went our separate ways, knowing I was bone lonely.

    Please get the idea out of your head that just because you have a vagina you don’t have to be accountable for being a bigot, at least where men are concerned.

    Thank you.

  14. 14
    Steve

    Dear DC;
    All you have to do is to decide if you want to talk with the ex-BF again. Your current BF, having been informed of your past with the ex, could not reasonably object to a WTF? conversation with him. It isn’t like you want to hang out with him.

    If you want to ask the ex about what happened and why he is contacting you now, ask. If not, don’t. Then let the ex know you have a good thing going, there is no room for him and that you wish him well.

  15. 15
    sayanta

    Steve-

    Actually, we women were just commenting on EMK’s (who is a man) take on men.

  16. 16
    Diana

    First, DC, I am very sorry for the child you lost, and for feeling that you can never talk about her, even with the man you intend to marry. What a terrible burden to carry.

    Second, while your wanting to know from your ex why he left you as he did is understandable, he will likely not be able or willing to give you the answer you seek. If anything, his response would open the door to not only a painful past that you have worked so hard to put behind you, but also possibly create more unresolved emotions and thoughts. If it is closure you seek, this is something you have to do for yourself, as you have already done.

    And lastly, I am not as quick to think that the only reason he’s contacting you is to try and reconnect with an old flame. That could definitely be the case or perhaps he’s actually spent the past three years thinking about how he treated you, the child he lost, and he wants to make atonement. A slim chance, I know.

    Regardless, the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what his reason is. You owe it to yourself and your current boyfriend to continue living the good life, and to not do anything to tamper with your happiness. It’s not about revenge. It’s about your emotional well being.

  17. 17
    Melissa

    I could be wrong, but I THINK Evan’s underlying theme is always consistent in the sense that “yes, alot of men are selfish jerks”… “Yes, alot of men will treat you poorly”…. “yes that means we have to cut ALOT of men out of our lives”…..
    BUT…. if we keep putting ourselves out there often enough and keep consistently accepting dates from a wide range of people, we will eventually find one that DOESEN’T act like a jerk and DOESEN’T act selfish… and treats us with kindness and respect…

  18. 18
    Karl R

    Definitely Confused said: (original post)
    “I never talk about the daughter I once had and lost, even with my boyfriend now.”

    Why not?

    This raises a huge red flag with me. You’re planning to marry your current boyfriend, but you’re not willing to confide in him?

    My rule for dealing with exes (when I’m in a relationship):
    If I’m going to have a conversation or do something with an ex, it’s only kosher if I’m willing to discuss it (in detail) with my current girlfriend later. If I have to keep anything a secret from her, then I shouldn’t be doing it.

  19. 19
    A Reader

    Here’s what bothers me: if men are selfish jerks who will use and abuse us if we let them, then why bother with them at all? Women are not supposed to expect anything or try to change men, because that’s just the way they are? Sounds like letting men off the hook to me, and leaving women to hold the bag, as usual. I find this all very hard to swallow, which is I guess one reason why I don’t date much. Very low BS tolerance.

    Other than that, I agree — DC, honey, you would have to be a stark raving crazy fool to give that lame excuse for a man the right time, much less any consideration of what “pain” he might be going through. Who the f*ck cares WHAT he’s going through? He dumped you when you were pregnant because HE couldn’t deal? What about YOU? You were the one going through all the physical and hormonal changes. The difference was, you HAD to deal, whereas he could bail, and did.

    As to why he’s contacting you now, it’s nothing but male radar. Seriously, it’s the XX version of female intuition. Men know when you’re over them and that’s when they reappear, trying to hook you back in. Don’t let him get away with it.

  20. 20
    A Reader

    Um, that should be the XY version of female intuition.

  21. 21
    anette

    You hear the whole “women think irrationally” concept a lot and although I DO think our emotions can get the better of us, I don’t really think it’s fair to state that our responses are irrational.(necessarily)

    I think one of the reasons for the response females give to males, is that females don’t actually understand why the men are doing what they are doing, and make assumptions based on what the WOMAN would do in that situation. IE, if a woman contacts an old flame that she hurt, it’s probably more likely that she just wants to be friends again and perhaps say she’s sorry. So it’s natural that a woman might make the assumption that her ex is being geniune. It’s hard for us to understand how diffferent we really are sometimes(and even harder to accept).

    With more knowlege of how men think and behave, I’m pretty sure our responses to them will appear a lot more rational. I just don’t like hearing this alway’s “women behave irrationally” when they really aren’t, they are just drawing the wrong conclusions due to lack of knowlege and “appear” to thinking irrationally.

    It may seem like a minor thing and small distinction but there’s already a lot of bias against women for their supposed irrational minds, we don’t need more of it.

    Other than that, great advice as usual Evan :)

  22. 22
    Evan Marc Katz

    Your point is well-taken, Annette. However, I have to ask you, objectively:

    Going back to the man who left her when she was pregnant doesn’t make all that much rational sense, does it? Eventually, it doesn’t really matter whether a woman understands WHY a guy does what he does, don’t you think? Isn’t there some point where the woman has to take responsibility for choices that can be described, at best, as foolish?

    Like taking back a selfish jackass, for example.

  23. 23
    anette

    You said “Eventually, it doesn’t really matter whether a woman understands WHY a guy does what he does, don’t you think?”.

    No, it matters more than anything else. Understanding the why makes all the difference. What he is actually thinking, why he is actually calling is what we need to know, to make a rational decision. Not , how he is treating us.

    Women will put up with all sorts of nonsense, even to their own detriment. Men get confused by this and think we are silly. But that’s only because they are men and don’t understand our motivations.

    Our capcity to love and care probably comes from our biological drive to take care of a child and nurture the child. The child can throw up, hit us, and yell at us…we don’t care what the child is doing(because our bond and desire to love is so great), we want to know WHY the child is hitting us and we want to understand WHAT the child is thinking, so we can fix it and help our child to grow and be healthy. And..of course, to love us back.

    We do the same thing with grown men. It is our nature.

    Unfortunately, to our determiment we often misunderstand a mans “real” intentions and our empathetic selves kick in, and almost PUSH us, to care for him. And the more damaged he is, the more empathy we feel(which feels strangely good to us) and the more addictive he becomes.

    Yes, the why makes all the difference Evan. It stops us in our tracks. And when we trust a good man, to give us honest advice we will listen, no matter how much it hurts. We aren’t the suckers for punishment that you may think. It’s our nature, to care..regardless of how we are treated, because kids..can be bloody aweful!!.

    Hope that makes sense. We need help in understanding a mans motivation, otherwise we just get it wrong and care, when the man does not deserive it.

  24. 24
    Selena

    Re:#22
    “Like taking back a selfish jackass, for example.”
    Good one Evan.

    Unfortunately, some of us have had to learn the responsiblity for that choice that hard, painful way. Sigh.

  25. 25
    anette

    Okay 2nd post. I thought of a better analogy.

    When a woman is raising a child, she will care for the child no matter WHAT he does, it is her nature(if she is healthy mentally of course). Hit, kicked, yelled at, vomit, poop, abuse, tantrums.She keeps going and keeps caring. She will put up with anything and will die trying to care for her child.

    But what happens, when the woman realizes..the tears on her beloved childs face…..

    …… are crocodile tears?

    Her empathy, disappears. She is being manipulated and she realizes it. She takes control and will not allow her loving caring self, to be abused by a manipulative child, no matter how much she loves the child. She becomes strong , assertive and absolutely determined. She pulls the child into line.

    This is what I mean, when I say the WHY stops us in our tracks. It’s the grown up version of recognizing, crocodile tears.

    Sigh…that probably didn’t help either did it?

  26. 26
    A-L

    A couple of things.

    All people are self-interested, and do things that they think will work out best for them. Just part of human nature. It’s not something that’s unique to males or females.

    And the ex-boyfriend was a real jackass because he bailed when his girlfriend got pregnant and ignored her efforts at communicating with him. Being self-interested and being a jackass are not (always) the same thing.

    Also, I’m not sure that the OP should be thrown into the pack of women who are ready and willing to run back into the arms of jerks who treated them poorly. It seems as though she just wants some clarification about why he was such a jerk when she thought they had a great emotional connection. By expressing her fear that he may want more than just casual conversation, she’s clearly indicating that she’s not interested in getting romantically involved with him again.

  27. 27
    Joe

    I can’t find anywhere in the letter where the writer says, a) that she’s going back to the ex, and b) that the ex wants to get back together with her…

  28. 28
    Jennifer

    When I read this letter, I didn’t get the impression that DC was considering taking her ex back. I got the impression that she was unsure of whether or not to have a ‘wtf, why’d you do that to me’ conversation with him.
    If my interpretation is correct then I don’t think DC is being irrational at all- just trying to determine whether or not talking to him will make her feel better or worse.
    My advice to DC is: talking to him will probably make you feel worse, especially if you go in expecting answers and apologies. It’d probably be best if you left it alone.

  29. 29
    Honey

    I don’t understand why people get so worked up over the idea that you have to cut a lot of men out of your life before you can find one good one. It goes both ways – how many women did Evan date before he found a good one? Obviously he’s willing to live by his own advice and it led him to happiness.

    Yes, the vast, vast majority of men you meet won’t be worth your attention. But if you don’t cut every single one of them out of your life, you won’t find the one who is different. And that’s everyone’s goal, right? (At least on this website, there are others with different goals but they’re not his audience.)

    DC, this man is obviously not worth your time, and I agree that the only way for him to learn is if there are permanent consequences (like no longer having you in his life). Here’s the thing: do people change? Yes. Do they change for you? Generally not. That is, if you do not ever speak to him again there is a possibility he will learn from that and be an awesome partner for someone else down the road. But if you let him back into your life the old and incredibly powerful patterns that you established with him previously will inevitably reassert themselves. Wouldn’t you rather give the gift of a mature man who has learned his lesson to some other woman (even if you never know about it) than take him back only to have yourself devastated once again?

    And Iagree with others that if your lost child is still affecting you this deeply and yet you cannot confide in your partner, perhaps professional counseling is in order? It was a tremendous help to me when I lost my mother.

  30. 30
    A Reader

    @Melissa #17 — Maybe you’re right. After all, if you keep beating your head against the wall often enough, you’re sure to give yourself a headache eventually. No sarcasm directed toward you, honestly. If you’re willing to keep putting yourself out there and picking yourself up over and over again, you’re a better woman than I am. Good on you.

    Me, I just don’t feel like the potential prize (a relationship with a man) is worth that kind of effort, especially when it seems that men aren’t expected to do anything but show up. I mean, a decent guy is great, but he shouldn’t be crowned King for a Day (or for your lifetime) just because he DOESN’T jerk women around. Where I come from, treating people decently used to be called basic human consideration. Not FEMALE consideration, but applying to men, too. Just sayin’.

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