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. 241

    The guy is just a lying cheating whore. Simple. I’d run like HELL.

  2. 242

    WELL…..a relationship should be about honesty, if he had to hide the text it isn’t honesty. His focus should be more on building something with the girlfriend not hanging on to an old one. Just because your not comfortable with it doesn’t mean your overbearing or insecure at all. The so called boyfriend should take into consideration that it is causing an issue between them. Either the current relationship has meaning and value…. Or it don’t.

  3. 243

    Thanks you for this response!  It sums up how I’m feeling perfectly!

    Here’s my story…

    My oldest, closest friend happens to be an ex-girlfriend on mine.  We dated for 1 year 16 years ago and have been platonic friends for the past 15 years.  We even lived together as platonic friends for two years after we broke up, which I admit is strange but hey it worked for us.  She currently lives 6 hours away from me with her BF (who’s also a very good friend of mine) but we keep in touch and I try to go visit them about once a year.  At this point I pretty much consider her the sister I never had.

    My fiancee (whom I’ve been with for 3 1/2 years) has real trouble with this situation.  I’ve been very up front with her about my friend since the start of our relationship.  When I went to visit my friends I not only asked, but practically begged my fiancee (then GF) to come with me so they could meet.  Her reaction was pretty much “Hell no,” so I went on my own.  Conflict has arisen since I want to invite my friends to our wedding (I think one’s oldest friends should be at one’s wedding).  Conflict has arisen because my family has been kind to my friend and supportive of our friendship.

    My fiancee and I have a fundamental disagreement over whether one can be friends with an ex (I’m friendly with most of my exes).  That I can live with, but while my fiancee has never laid out an ultimatum (“It’s her or me!”), I often feel there’s an ultimatum implied if we’re to avoid constant conflict…and I don’t find that fair.  I don’t think I should be asked to choose between my current love and my oldest friend and if i was asked to choose I feel I would be justified in choosing against whomever was making me make such a stupid choice.

  4. 244

    I can understand where you are coming from, but you really aren’t giving any thought to your fiancee.  You are with her now and it isn’t really fair to keep up a relationship with a past GF.  Some people can deal with it and some cannot.  I did my best to deal with it in a situation of my own and it turned out he was lying, sneaking, betraying and cheating.  That is always a possibility in situations like this, no matter how honest you may be.  Why stir the pot???  If you really want to marry your fiancee and you truly love her, you would pick her over the old GF.  That’s not saying be rude to your friends, but if you wouldn’t pick your fiancee over the old GF, I think you have some serious thinking to do.  Just my opinion.

  5. 245

    The single best piece of relationship advice I can give to a woman after years of being single and dating is if you want to know how a man will be in a relationship, if you want to see his character and if you want to know how he will treat you look very closely at the relationship he has with his exes.  Not just the interactions or lack there of but how he speaks of them, how soon he does so and is it overall negative or positive.  Don’t judge a man by how he treats his Mother or his Sister that’s an old wives tale.  Certainly if you have a man that treats his Mom or Sister like crap that’s likely a red flag, unless of course she’s an alcoholic or abusive or such, but men that love maternal family members mean nothing as to how they will treat wives or girlfriends.  Some of the biggest jerks cheaters and liars have loved their mothers to death.  I am on good terms with all on my long term exes but one, and that is my choice, he lied and cheated and I do not want him in my life, he would be in mine.  Since age 16, I am 37.  I have attended 3 of their weddings, but even those that I never speak to could call me at anytime and most will email me once a year or so.  I know their wives they know who I am dating I who they are if not married.  I do not speak poorly of them they do not of me, I always tell men I come with references :) Here is why this is important, we all have that one okay maybe two crazy ex, see I have one in the bunch.  But you don’t want to be with someone who is on bad terms with all the people they have ever dated seriously , that is a huge red flag!   You would rather be with someone that is able to maintain a friendship or at minimum be on good terms with those people because that shows he’s a good guy.  Look no one likes break ups and sure after some of my break ups there was anger and it took time for it to heal but eventually we were friends.  If these two can break up and still be friends even better.  Short term men I have dated who had exes that all hated them well guess what they cheated on all of them and me too!  They were pathological liars.   You also don’t want men who talk poorly about all their exes and men who say all their exes are crazy run from that guy immediately he’s crazy.  Because people that say stuff like that do not take personal responsibility for their own actions and like to bad mouth others which is immature.  Look at it like this one day you are pretty likely to be that ex and he’s going to talk about you like that do you want to be spoken about like that?  You don’t want a man that has inappropriate relationships with exes of course not and there are men and women that do.   I tell all my boyfriends about my communications with my exes.  The exes that I am close friends with meet my boyfriends.  If my exes have girlfriends I befriend them as well many have become best friends and it is all out in the open no phone hiding or hiding and it MUST be this way.  This is where the guy made the mistake.  But the girl who has been dating this man for a few months I believe is making a mistake of thinking this relationship is a lot more serious than the man does.  She moved to his city after a few months ummm…l with what commitment?  Is he her boyfriend?   I’m not sure at this point he owes her anything she is acting very needy and clingy with no justification and she probably just ruined this.  Was the move a mutual thing?  Did he ask her to move?  Did he ask her to be exclusive?

  6. 246
    Tiger Lily

    I found this a little troubling from Emily’s secondary post: “Another 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.”

    The ex GF — sounds like just about everything is on the table for her.  Maybe Emily should be more trusting, maybe the BF should be more open, maybe there should be more hours in the day so that we could text and talk and have lunch with everyone all of the time, every day!

    I see this whole scenario as more of a priority matter — who is the BF’s priority?  Current or ex?


  7. 247

    My bf is in constantly contact with his ex-wife, technically separated.  She text him and calls him every day, and it is not about his 9 yrs old daughter.  She says that she calls him because he is her friend and friends are there when need it.  Beside that she calls him and ask him if he’s with me.  She knows he has a gf.  He stays talking to her like nothing, listening to her nonsense.  He takes her to doctor’s appointments, to the ER when need it, and if she’s not feeling good health wise he stays over to take care of his 9 yrs old daughter and her 14 and 12 yrs old as well.  The ex doesn’t have a drivers license but drives everywhere.  He says that he is helping her until she receives her first social security check (applied for disability).  Pays all of her bills because supposedly she can’t, but she receives two social security checks for her two oldest, food stamps, etc.  The fact that she calls him and text him 15-20 times a day for no reason it really bothers me.  I don’t do that because I understand that he is working.  The reason I know she text and calls him all the time is because of his brother.  He says that she drives my bf crazy.  I have talked to him about this situation and how uncomfortable all of these makes me feel, and he tells me that knowbody is going to prevent him from seeing his daughters.  He knows better then that because I am always asking for the girls, and making sure he spends time with them.  I tell him to take them out for quality time.  But not spending time with them at her house.  His family do not agree with the things that he is doing.  They have told him that she is taking advantage of him, using him.  He never has money because of what its going on.  Today he is taking her for an appointment and staying over because she can not be around the girls.  Supposedly something to do with the radiation in her body due to the testing they are doing on her today.  I am trying to be supportive but this is too much.  

    1. 247.1
      Karl R


      First, it sounds like you’ve already made up your mind to leave your boyfriend.  If so, go ahead.


      Second, it sounds like you want someone to affirm that you’re in the right and your boyfriend is in the wrong.  Why bother?  If you don’t like the situation, you’re allowed to leave him even if he’s 100% on the moral high ground.


      Third, it sounds like she is taking advantage of him.  It’s quite possible that she’s acting out of necessity.  She may not have anyone else she can turn to.  She may just be doing her best to survive and take care of her kids … using the only resource available.


      If I was in your position, I could sympathize with the ex-wife’s circumstances.  I could admire the generosity and charity the boyfriend shows toward her.  And I could walk out of the relationship because it’s not making me happy.


      Don’t insist on being the “good guy” in the breakup.  In order to be the “good guy”, you have to make the other person be the “bad guy” … and the other person will generally object to that.  Breakups go more smoothly if you let the other person know that you think they’re terrific … but the relationship just isn’t working for you.

      1. 247.1.1

        well said

    2. 247.2

      Jain, for all it’s worth, I’m with Karl R on this one.  The part that stands out to me is that you’ve already told him how uncomfortable this is making you feel, but he didn’t take any concrete steps to increase your comfort level.  I think this situation could possibly be salvaged, if you both set and maintained some reasonable boundaries for contact with the ex, that work for both of you (honoring his relationship with his daughters while also making you a priority, i.e. limiting contact to just things related to the daughters).  However, if he really isn’t willing to do that, then I’m not sure what else can be done.  You can’t force him to do something he doesn’t want to.

      I don’t think he’s necessarily “bad” per se (sounds more like someone who is well-intentioned but has weak boundaries–and I know you can’t make him grow a spine.  Nor is it your job to do so, even if you somehow could).  I also don’t think you’re in the “wrong” either and don’t blame you for being uncomfortable about this.  Most women don’t want a man who is another woman’s caretaker (especially his ex!)  I just think this sounds like the wrong fit.

  8. 248

    Evan is right. I have been that girlfriend who has nearly lost a lovely man because of my own insecurities. You guys need to think about what he’s saying cos your not listening to him. You will push him away, and you’ll be in the same position you are now with someone else, this insecurity you have is something that burdens all your relationships not just your current one. you need to think about the sort of girlfriend or boyfriend you are before you can really evaluate wether this ex is a threat to your relationship. You have chosen to be with the sort of person that can’t just cut people out of his life. And don’t you sometimes feel like your are putting on a pedestool? Like you think she’s so amazing that he really wants her? No. There not together, he chose you.

  9. 249

    This response is BS. And here is why:

    All relationships are build upon trust. Hiding lunches and meeting with exes and calling her while your girlfriend is making dinner is disrespectful and not worthy of trust.

    In a healthy relationship you discuss eachother’s needs and wants. In a relationship you make agreements and you set healthy boundaries. Each person and case is different. But the point really is that marriage or a relationship means sacrificing some things for the common good.

    If she feels unsafe when he makes calls and lunch dates with his ex behind her back – I wouldn’t tolerate that period- then all she has to do is to tell him that. If he can’t cherish her feelings and accommodate her at all in what she needs then he is not the right partner for her.




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