Should I Let My Boyfriend Be Friends With His Ex?

Should I Let My Boyfriend Be Friends With His Ex?

I want to know where you stand on the whole “staying friends with your ex” thing. Recently I moved to the country/ town where my boyfriend lives, after a few months of long-distance relationship with visits intermittent. Things had been great between us. Of course it’s early days. We’ve both been loving, attentive, kind and considerate. Two things happened when I got here, however, which have me thinking. I don’t know if they’re related.

First, when I arrived I was very ill with a horrible cold. My boyfriend was also sick (with food poisoning) but he avoided me physically. No hugging, kissing… He explained it was because he didn’t want to get sick again in the last few days before his work ended before vacation. I was hurt but understood. I had thought he’d lost interest but took what he said and accepted it. Second, a few days ago while he was on skype with his dad, a text-message came to him on the phone. Yes, I made the mistake of looking at it! We hadn’t been private about these things in the past at all. The text was from his ex-girlfriend arranging to meet him for lunch on Friday. I made the additional mistake of scrolling back and then realised they’d been talking while I was making him dinner. He had gone outside to speak privately, and I had a hunch it was something untoward.

Well, I wrote a note saying “I’m sorry I invaded your privacy. When the text came I thought it might have been important. Your ex-girlfriend wasn’t to meet you for lunch on Friday.” I was very tired and just went up to bed. He came up soon after and we talked. He defended being friends with her (they dated for about two years) saying she helped him during a very difficult time in his life and so on. I told him I didn’t think it was appropriate. Also, I pointed out his tendency to keep his relations with her private. Once in the past, he had received a text from her and he turned over the phone so I wouldn’t notice. I made no comment at that time…

I think it is unacceptable for him to be meeting her, texting and talking with her when he is four months into a new relationship. What do you think? He said he’s not attracted to her and so on, but I just don’t like the idea of him hanging out with her, what if he invites her over for dinner, etc? By the way, I do trust my boyfriend, but I find it almost an insult to me, or to our relationship, that he would still be in touch with her. Please answer my question, I’d love to know what you think. Thanks, Emily

Dear Emily,

Yeah, you probably asked the wrong guy.

I think you are particularly sensitive to your own needs and feelings and somewhat clueless about the needs and feelings of your boyfriend. So let’s get this straight:

Your boyfriend has only lost interest if he shows no affection when you’re both healthy, not when you’re both sick.

While it may not feel good to have your boyfriend keep his distance when you had a horrible cold, you have to admit, it’s pretty practical, isn’t it? My wife travels for a living and I can recall at least two times when she wouldn’t kiss her sick husband because it might jeopardize her health before a trip. How selfish would it be for my need for affection to outweigh my wife’s need to stay healthy? How insecure would I have to be to think that my wife’s act of self-preservation was somehow an insult to me?

This is paranoid thinking and it serves you no practical purpose. Your boyfriend has only lost interest in you if he shows no affection when you’re both healthy, not when you’re both sick. Cut him some slack, will ya?

Next, you “made the mistake of looking at his text message,” and then “you made the mistake of scrolling back and reading the conversation” and then you made the mistake of bringing this whole thing up with him and then you made the mistake of thinking that it’s inappropriate for ex’s to be friends… I could go on, but this is enough of a run-on sentence already.

Jealousy is a useless emotion, Emily. The only thing that jealousy indicates is how insecure you are. It says nothing about your boyfriend.

If you have a man that’s untrustworthy, then he shouldn’t be your boyfriend. If he’s your boyfriend, then you have no choice but to trust him completely.

If you don’t trust him because you’re insecure about his friendship with his ex, you’re only going to accomplish the following:

1) You’ll make him feel like crap because his own girlfriend doesn’t trust him.
2) You’ll make him feel trapped because he’s dating someone who reads his text messages.
3) You’ll make him feel that he can’t be honest with you about his friendship with his ex – because he CAN’T.
4) You’ll make him feel that he can find a woman who DOES trust him.
5) You’ll make him feel that he can’t be himself around you, which is the highest compliment a man can give to a woman.

Trust is the foundation of any relationship, Emily, and if you don’t have it, you don’t really have anything.

Good men and women stay in touch with their exes because their exes are kind people with whom they share a lot of history. What you forget when you’re jealous of the ex is that there’s a REASON they broke up. And if he’s with you now, shut the hell up and trust that there’s a reason he’s with you, too.

You’ll be surprised at how well men respond to being trusted.

There’s no reason for a man to destroy all evidence of his past just because he’s dating you. I have photos, love letters, and emails from women in my past. I even wrote to my ex on Facebook today. She’s had us over for dinner multiple times. Not to mention that my wife has her first wedding album in a drawer in our home. What? I should make her burn it because I’M insecure that she left him 6 years ago?

If you’re insulted that your boyfriend is in touch with his ex, that’s your prerogative, but you’re pretty much ensuring the destruction of your own relationship.

Because any man who cuts off his friendships because of an insecure ex will get what he deserves – an irrationally jealous girlfriend who will never trust him no matter what.

Be a class act and invite her over for dinner.

You’ll be surprised at how well men respond to being trusted.

P.S. A woman’s fear of being hurt is one of the main reasons why men disappear. Click here to learn more:

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Comments:

  1. 211
    Evan Marc Katz

    (reposted from Comment 78)

    Hi, I’m Emily, I wrote this letter. Thanks for posting it Evan, and for writing a reply. I appreciate having a guy’s perspective (also the other guys that wrote back). It’s been several months since this happened. We did dicuss things for a few days after all of this happened. I totally admitted that I was in the wrong checking his messagaes. In the end, I caused myself the pain. So yes, I fully own that.
     
    As many of you will be aware, moving across the Atlantic, moving at all, is one of the most stressful things a person can do. Now I’m not making excuses for my behaviour (that was wrong) but rather I’m trying to explain why I got so over-emotional over it all – he was the thing which was secure, known, valued – and I thought that was changing.
     
    My boyfriend has gone ahead and stayed in touch with his ex. We talked about this and I said, “Okay, but you need to be above-board and not engage in behaviour which provokes suspicision” which he agreed. He told me something too which I hadn’t considered. His father cheated on his mother several times, and his mother was very jealous. He said he didn’t want me to know about the ex, because he assumed I would be jealous (so he’s projecting old fears onto the relatinship, just as I am – of course this needs to stop). I told him I was, but only because of the sneaking around. (Again, my bad cause I looked at the phone!).
     
    On another note, he is friends with other exs and I don’t mind (they are married with kids and in my mind that MEANS something). Another thing to add, it turned out (after boyfriend and I talked) that his ex was sneaking around on her current boyfriend, not telling him she was meeting mine for lunch.
     
    Anyway, Evan you are right, Trust is essential. I’m going to talk with my boyfriend tonight (again, after reading all of this) and let him know that it’s trust I want and see where we can go from there. I love him and I know he loves me, so I know we’ll both put in the effort.
    Thanks Evan and keep up the good work!
     

    I have a funny feeling that even though the OP came back to tell me that she agreed with my take on things (which is not that he is a cheater, but that he was protecting her from being jealous), people are STILL going to tell me that I’m wrong. Whatever makes you happy, folks.

    I think the boyfriend’s trustworthy, the OP thinks her boyfriend is trustworthy, and all of you who lead with fear and assume the worst (instead of considering the boyfriend’s other motives for not sharing about his ex), will deal with the consequences in your own relationships.

  2. 212
    Nicolette

    Hi Emily,

    There are so many posts, answers and comments on your subject meanwhile.  

    I want to tell you (shortly) my story and maybe it’s helpful to you and others.  

    I met my boyfriend when he was breaking up with his ex-girlfriend and I was breaking up with my husband. Naturally, we shared a lot about our ex’s and it was very helpful at the beginning, something like a therapy. The time went by, my ex-husband disappeared completely but not his ex. So the focus was on her totally. The reason for that was primarily his fear that she might forbid my boyfriend to see his little son. So he preferred to stay friends with her. It was very uncomfortable for me but I decided to be tough, support him, and stay “cool” since I am his partner. I can tell you I had to go through very uncomfortable things e.g., knowing that he sleeps at her place occasionally (because it’s far away from his home and he wanted to spend more time with his little son), facing the closed door when he skyped with her and his son, staying quite when she called, having to disappear quickly from his apartment when she was about to drop by spontaneously. I did all these sacrifices because I  love him and respect his love to his son. After 2,5 years of distant relationship we moved together and I got pregnant. It was all kept in secret from his ex since she was apparently emotionally unstable. It was fine to me. But now she knew about my existence. So she requested that I am not at his place when her elder son (from her first marriage) also comes to visit. So I had to go to sleep in a hotel. I did it just to have peace. She never wanted to meet me and I know she thinks that I am a horrible person albeit I do my best to take care of her kids when they are at our place. 

    So what? I do regret I have not been firm enough to sometimes say: “No, I don’t feel comfortable with it.”  Now I feel terribly irritated even if she calls and my partner asks her a simple question like “How are you?”. Now I can’t get this woman out of my head because I myself was too kind to let her in our life. Now we are a very happy couple and the ex-problem is the only dark cloud in the sky which hopefully will soon disappear if I behave wise enough. 

    My recommendation to you: Do explain your boyfriend the things that you are not comfortable with! And don’t wait too much! Your boyfriend rather wants to see you happy  than “cool” but suffering inside. I guess sometimes it’s worth making sacrifices for your loved ones but it’s also good to know the limit. 

    Good luck to you! 

  3. 213
    Juli

    Thanks for these posts!!  I think Emily’s boyfriend should be honest and upfront in ALL things that is how trust is built. I am in a similar siutation except my bf tells me.    The problem is if the new gf is totally excluded and the relationship is to close there is such a thing as emotional cheating.   Anyway we have had talks and he agreeded to put me first in the relationship and I agreed that I understand her friendship is important to him.  Now we have another problem once she realized I am a serious relationship it has come out that she does have feels and is bad mouthing me and I don’t feel welcome to hang out at her parties.  I do not trust her and I don’t feel that it is a healthy situation or friendship.  Evan don’t assume all ex friendships are healthy.  So I wrote my bf a letter last night and want to disscuss the situation and have something change.  I don’t want to be jealous or controlling but also I feel the situation is unhealthy and not something I want in my life.  I would like for her to accept our relationship and is all be friends or one of us needs to go. It is important to dicuss and tell your feelings 

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