the so’s ex

Reader I. K. writes:

Is it wrong of me to ask my girlfriend not to hang out with her ex bf? I’m pretty sure he wants to get back together with her, and it makes me really uncomfortable.

Dear I.K.:

In short: No, I don’t think it’s wrong of you to want your girlfriend not to hang out with an ex bf who obvis wants her back.

And I don’t think it’s wrong of you to express this sentiment to her. Communication with your significant other is extremely important, and I think the more you tell each other about your thoughts and feelings concerning the relationship, the better.

However, I’d like to unpack the situation a bit further.

in love

"I hate your ex." Image: Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Part of not wanting your gf to hang out with exes could just be straight up jealousy. Lots of people are friends with their exes. (I am friends with several of mine.) Jealousy means insecurity. It’s a perfectly natural emotion, and I’d worry if you didn’t feel some jealousy, but you need to address it.  If you think she’s going to choose to go back to her ex instead of being with you, that’s a problem. You need to ask yourself if there’s something wrong in the relationship that is making you feel this way, or if it’s something internal that’s making you insecure. If it’s the former, you can discuss it with your S.O. and try to figure out how to fix it. If it’s inside of you, you’re going to need to acknowledge it and address it, possibly without her help.

On that note… Are you definitely certain this ex bf wants her back? If he hasn’t written her a letter to this effect, or said so on her Facebook wall, or made menacing calls to you saying that she’s his and you should give up, you may just be projecting your jealousy/insecurity. Of course he’d want her back, your mind says; she’s my girlfriend and I’d want her back. But remember: there’s a reason they broke up. Just because you want her now doesn’t mean he still does.

And is there even a possibility that she wants him back? That’s really the kicker. Even if he begs her to go back to him, if she’s truly over him and into you, it won’t matter. And you have nothing to worry about.

If you are sure that he wants her back, and especially if she has discussed this with you, even in a joking manner, then I have absolutely no qualms whatsoever with you asking her not to hang out with him. First off, it’s cruel on her part, unless she also wants him back, in which case the fish you’ve got to fry are enormous and I think you should get out, now, fast. But stringing someone along with whom one has a previous romantic relationship and who has expressed a desire to rekindle said flame is just plain mean. Keeping him around when the relationship is expressly unequal is just straight up ugly, and it’s something she’s going to have to deal with.

I say bring it up with your girlfriend. Tell her how you feel. You can ask her not to hang out with him after you’ve explained your qualms over the issue. It’s only fair. If she sees it from your perspective, she’ll probably agree.

But be prepared for her to say, “Well, we’re just friends, and I have no problem hanging out with him, and neither should you.”

At which point I would say you should recommend that the three of you hang out together. Sure, being the third wheel sucks, but it’d solve the problem. Relationships take compromise. If she won’t avoid hanging out with him to ease your fears, then you can just hang out altogether. Problem solved.


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