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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  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

    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

    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 

  4. 214
    Nirva Joseph

    Your concerns are valid, there’s a reason you went through the msg, You went with your intuition. Sometimes our intuition leads us to the truth. If he had nothing to hide, he would’ve done exactly that. This isn’t something you should’ve magically found out by snooping. I don’t think the communication is necessary between the two. They will never have a platonic friendship as expected.

  5. 215

    Reading this post, I have deduced that Evan is being one sided from a male point of view. His prerogative. But he’s not seeing the full picture.  My man’s ex wife asked for a divorce after 2.5 weeks of starting an affair overseas on a teaching job.  Story goes, he accepted the request for divorce, amicably on the outside.  We’ve been together for almost four months now, and a month ago she came back into the country, after losing her job and her new man.  Within that first week, she was getting him to take her around meeting people and running errands! Obviously it was not kosher, and I put my foot down.  His defense was that she just wants to be friends.   I found out that she definitely had ulterior motives through a friend and was trying to get him back.  I brought this new found info to him,  and his response was that she had given him no inkling that this was her intention .  I put boundaries up and asked him not to see her or remain chummy with her, just online texting about the impending divorce to which he he agreed.  Theres been no physical meeting of the two of them for the last month, their divorce came through a week ago, and out of the blue, my man went on an errand with his fishing chum, while he was out he tells me he’s with his ex wife at the cell phone shop helping her sort out her contract.  Tell me how this is appropriate Evan, remaining friends with an ex?

    1. 215.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Looks like we disagree. He’s divorced. You’re with him. You’re still insecure and jealous despite the fact that he chose to get divorced. This one’s on you.

  6. 216

    Emily,  I could not agree lees with that comment. Its so one sided. what about this type of ego, selfishness, inconsideration…Why is it more important to keep the ex-“lover” happy? the new girlfriend is probably left out of the friendship, right? And if not its probably uncomfortable for the new girl no matter how confident a women is. 

    ‘m going to tell you something very personal. When my now husband & I were dating I was ok with him being friends with, & even going to coffee with his EX’s, thinking I was secure and had nothing to worry about. We were strong in our relationship. Until he starting “seeing” his ex (his first), meaning he cheated on me and lied about. She fell in love with him again so she didn’t care about telling me. The EXs will never be a part of your girlfriend life and will even talk negatively about her. In my experience she acted/pretended to like me but I should have gone with my gut. My gut was right.  Somehow we got through it but it almost ruined our life. . Ex lovers seem to find it less difficult to be intimate again than if was just a friend who is a girl. I would NEVER EVER recommend staying friends w your ex especially if the love of your life felt threatened by it. It’s naive to think its ok. Talk to anyone who is mature enough to know this, even google the question Who’s more important- your ex lover and you or you and your girlfriend/future wife? I’m in awe and disappointment that you would let this end your relationship. It’s a real life tragedy of, hmm so many words I could use here…..first one that comes to mind is disrespect. I’m serious if the guy can’t do this for you he just doesn’t live you enough or his ego and stubbornness is serious stuff. You should be #1 to him. Why was he hiding his phe texts: cuz he knows in his subconscious it’s wrong. 

  7. 217

    My boyfriend talks to his exes and says their his friends. He says he has no feelings for them and he loves me very much. I trust he wouldn’t cheat on me, however, I’ve found text messages that he never told me about and he has made calls to them without me around. I don’t get why would you want to stay friends with someone who has cheated, lied, treated you like crap, the list goes on. The way I see it, the only people I owe my loyalty are ones who never made me question theirs. I know what kind of people my exes are and I don’t need that in my life. That’s why I don’t talk to them. Besides that it’s disrespectful. Some people call it jealousy, or insecure I call it rude and disrespectful. You can’t move forward with someone else if you keep looking in the review mirror. Period.

  8. 218

    I think people forget about “free will” and they we DO NOT belong to anyone. Only ourselves. We choose to be part of someone’s lives because we want to. The things is we all have exes in our lives whether we are with them or not. They were and always will be a part of our lives. Forgiveness is letting go and growing as a human being that it is a choice to remain friends or not. I never have an issue with anyone being friends with an ex. Why would I? All I would be doing is to being unkind to myself and it won’t get me anywhere. It is a personal choice. Though I don’t care what a person does or who they talk to, they have every right to talk to who they want to. If trust is not there it never will be. Jealousy and insecurity end relationships and marriages much faster. There is no right and wrong. The main thing is moving on. If that person cannot accept the people they hang out with and that does include an ex, then don’t be with them. As long as I go home at the end of the day with the person I love, then I’m happy. It’s healthy to have your own privacy, desires, friends, family. To have someone be jealous and insecure only hurts both and in the end will fail. To me trust happens when that person chooses to be with me, not because I want them then to, because THEY WANT TO.

    We all have free will to do what we want and enjoy our lives. Seeking approval because of insecurity will only make it worse.

    I have no issues with Evan’s comments. He doesn’t sugar coat it. He says it straight.

  9. 219

    This is so much bs, I am not jealous of any one but my man has no need to have lunch dinner breakfast texting calling anyone he used to be in a sexual relationship with, he can talk to me now!! If they were such good friends then u should still be together!! Bottom line when its over its over, even more so if u have someone else in your life now, keeping exes around is tacky!! Now if they have small to teenage kids yes I can see them talking about them, but not when they are grown, all of the contact needs to stop!! Stop using excuses to keep your exes around because u r going to hurt your new relationship, or possibly lose it!!

  10. 220
    Dump him

    I had to comment on this one. Recently I dated a guy for two months and all of the issues mentioned above surfaced.
    I have been cheated on before, during which relationship I completely trusted the guy and ignored all red flags and got burnt badly.
    After that, I was with someone in a stable happy two-year relationship, who lied to me first but I fogave and trusted that he would never lie to me again, because I could feel he loved me and cared about my feelings. This relationship ended when I moved countries for a new job. I asked him to come with me and offered everything to help him settle in, but after much discussion, he decided not to follow me, and I decided I couldn’t let go of this great job either in today’s economy.
    That’s my background.

    Now the guy I’m dating. He had a Russian ex who dumped him the next day on his birthday seven months ago, by walking out on him when he was too tired to do shopping with her. They kept in touch and he waited for months hoping there could be something more with her, before started dating again.
    None of this was in the open when I started seeing him. He fell head to heels for me (flew three weekends in one month to my city to see me), wanted to be exclusive with me, said he loves me in two weeks, and called me his girlfriend in a month.
    However, my gut feeling was telling me something was off. I asked him once about an ex-date who was on his social networking’ public wall, who he travelled overseas with. He said:”She is just a friend.”
    He lied to me. They dated. He chased her. He took her to meet with his family. When I confronted him saying the information on your Wall doesn’t seem like she is just a friend.
    He apologised, said he was too embarrassed about her that’s why he didn’t tell me the truth. He said she turned out to be a crazy bitch. (Well later on as I spent more time with him, I’d say it’s fair to say that he would turn every woman into a crazy bitch.)
    I don’t punich people when they apologise and come clean. I accepted his apology and said you can trust me with your past because I won’t judge you. Truth is, I dont. I’ve had exes who were open about their past, no matter what they were, I would apprecIte they shared it with me and let go, and focus on the future.
    But my date later on constantly accused me of being insecure because of my past, using tones same as Evan’s, blaming everything on me every time we disagreed on anything, small or big.

    A few weeks later, on NYE on our way to a party, his sister was driving, he fell asleep next to me while his phone was sliding off his hands. I reached out to take his phone off his hands and put in my handbag so it won’t be lost later, and the screen was a message exchange between him and another girl. She said “thinking of you, can’t sleep.” He said”I love you. Miss you too.”

    He apologised again. This time though, demand I have to forgive him and let go, because it was “meaningless flirting with an admirer” and when he said he loves her, it meant different things.

    My ass. You think I’d trust him again after that? He’d hid his past from me, lied about it, blamed it on my insecurities, used my past against me, then indeed he was emotionally cheating on me with another woman the whole time!

    Wait. That’s not the end. I wanted to break it off but after much back and forth discussion, we decided to give each other space to think about things. We kept on talking for another week. Guess what? He had lunch with his Russian ex the second day! Didn’t tell me beforehand. Didn’t tell me that they’ve been talking the whole time! How did I found out? I called him that day during lunch time and he rejected my call saying he is in a serious discussion with his shrink. He never rejects my calls. He either doesn’t pick up or pick up. I knew he was with someone. Weirdly my gut feeling told me it was his Russian ex.

    Now I’ve never met her nor seen her pics. I had no idea what she looked like. That day I went through his Wall again and took a screenshot and asked, that’s your ex right? I like her. She is pretty.
    Among a sea of people hugging him on his birthday party, I was spot on that woman in the picture was her.
    That got the stupid man talking and told me everything. How he waited for months for her to come back, how they always talk but never met, how he likes her when they were together, how he compared me with her, personality and in bed, complained about me not wanting to swallow but how she loves to give BJs and swallow, how they have set up more meeting plans next week, because she asked so, because she wanted to apologise for the way she dumped him.

    Needless to say, this time, he wanted to break it off with me completely.

    Well. I happily accepted it. Time to move on.

    For a dishonest disrespectful douchebag like that, may he find whoever to be with and be happy. I’m not putting up with his lies and BS anymore. May his russian ex happily swallow him ever after, or may a future superwoman comes along who is not insecure at all, and can put up with his flirting with every moving female, waitresses, female friends, ex girlfriends etc., with him hiding things and blaming on her insecurity, with him lying as a habit, and may that woman gets what she deserves for being stupid enough to be with him.

    Get the hell out of my life, because I reserve special things and time and energy and love for trustworthy respectful decent men!

    1. 220.1
      Dump Him

      One more background: I checked his social networking Wall because one month before he dated me, there were pictures of him travelling around the world with the first woman, someone he dated after his Russian ex. I even asked are you married, is that your wife, if so, why are you talking to me. He said no she is just a friend.
      The second woman he flirted with, lives in anther city, young, dumb, bored.
      The third woman he brought in between us, actually hid from me the whole time about that they have been talking, was his Russian ex.

      Meh, on top of that, there was endless raising voice, yelling at me demanding me to forgive and let go, walk away from me in public to flirt with other women (yep unbelievable), name calling, promise to pay me back some money and never did… This guy is the quintessencial worst version of Emily’s bf. But tbh, this early on in the relationship, hiding this much things, Emily, be a big girl and get out. All the red flags will come back to hurt you one day. Walk away.

    2. 220.2
      Karmic Equation

      It’s good that you finally dumped him for good.

      But you hung on to him WAAAYYYY past his expiration date.

      On non-character stuff, you give unlimited mulligans (e.g., mismatched socks, laughs at the wrong jokes, etc).

      On character stuff, like LYING (not white lies, “Sure honey, you look great in that dress”) — but ones where he has something to gain or lose by not telling you the truth (like your love or his mistress) — there should have been a two-strike rule. You tortured yourself.

      Why did you stay so long? Was he rich? Handsome?

      I chastise guys for writing to only 9/10s online. You’re doing the equivalent by giving too many chances to a guy just because he has the superficial qualities you wanted and you didn’t give enough weight to his character qualities until you got fed up.

      Chazellis says it best. “Don’t hate the player, understand the game.” Start paying attention at around the 1:30 mark:

      1. 220.2.1
        Dump Him

        From the first date to the end, it was two months in total. Yeah should have ended it earlier but then again, if I did, I wouldn’t have enough time to get to know him and evidence to know I made the right decision writing someone off.

  11. 221

    I think she should move on. She is the type of person not feeling comfortable with her boyfriend seeing his ex, while he is not. Maybe you can contact your ex as friends publicly and have some dinners and texts to kill time and if he is also okay with that. There is no right or wrong here. You are just two different kind of person have different believes in this question. Pity that This is some fundamental questions. Second, This is a new relationship that you only know him four months and the trust is just begin to building up gradually between you. Some insecurity feeling is very reasonable at this earlier stage to help you understand him better because knowing someone depends on time, even he is your boyfriend now, then what? Trust still need some effort to gain with mutual respect and effort. I don’t thinks this is a less of security issue here, it is more about fair or unfair. If you feel guilty that if you still seeing your ex boyfriend and if you feel you treat your current boyfriend unfair if you still hang out with your ex, then you of course will expect the same treatment from him. In the romantic relationship there are no unconditional love, sometimes you have to say no and hurt someone to make the relationship not that too crowded. Then you better leave him and find some guy who share the same beliefs.

  12. 222

    I disagree… if your boyfiriend really cares about you he wont want to see his ex.
    Tell him once and once only.. you are not happy about it.. if he argues or refuses head for the hills and
    don’t look back.
    if his friendship with the ex means more to him than his relationship with you forget it.
    Ex means Ex…

  13. 223

    Sorry, but I have to disagree with Evan. I think if anyone who is going to be still friends with their ex needs to be with them. If that person don’t love you enough to get rid of the ex friendship, then he or she is obviously keeping the ex around for a reason. Be it a person to run to when you two have problems, a person to run back to, and or a person that is willing to have sex with you and keep their mouth close even when they approach you. You have some xs that will sex your bf or gf and will still smile in your face the same time making you think they really are just X FRIENDS, when in reality the other person is just getting his or her cake and ice cream too. However, dating, I wouldn’t say you should cut an x friend off, but when you’re married and seriously committed to be married, then no x should be in your life. I mean one can seriously answer the questions as to “why do I want to keep him or her around” vs loving and making my current lady or guy feel as comfortable as possible. I disagree with this. Just happen to cross this page which some of his advice is good and others are wack to be honest. To each it’s own, but that is why I don’t get tips from articles. If I’m going to get any help and assistance it is from the good Lord who knows the person you’re dating better than you or anyone else know them. I normally just pray to God to show me if this man is a deceitful, untrustworthy man or a good man and has good intentions because God knows the future, the beginning and the end, you can’t go wrong when choosing a mate and marrying. A blog or no other human can even give you the proper advice because everyone is different and every situation is different. This article was really so laughable, even some of my guy friends are reading this and disagreeing. They said “if they keep or kept and x around as friends, then it was for a reason and not always good either” just an fyi for you ladies.

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