more ex communication

Reader S. G. writes:

My new BF still talks to his ex. It is obvious to me that she is still in love with him. This really bothers me. Does he just like the attention? Is he just keeping her on the hook if things go sour with me? Does he still love her? What’s the deal? And is it wrong for it to bother me so much or just normal?

Dear S.G.:

Fret not, you are completely normal. It would bother almost anyone if their current fling were talking with an ex who was clearly enamored.

The number one way you can figure out why he still talks to her is to ask him.

But first I think you need to address what’s really up here. The only emotions you can be sure about are your own. So let’s focus on those.

Why does this bother you? Why are you jealous? Do you not trust him? Are you afraid he loves her and not you?

just talking

He still talks to his ex. Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Remember, you have absolutely no control over what he does with his life. Anyone who feels certain that nothing wrong will ever happen in their relationship is blissfully unaware of the truth of the situation. The only aspect of the relationship you have any control over is your input into it.

So let’s address first and foremost why this bothers you.

If you confront him about it before you’ve gotten to the bottom of why it bothers you, you’re not actually addressing the problem. He can tell you that there’s nothing going on between them, and if you’re just destined to be jealous regardless of what he says, that’s not gonna cut it. Or he can quit talking to her altogether, which will make you feel even better until you find some new reason to be jealous about something. Or you can confront your jealousy head on and figure out if this is something that will bother you for the long run, and if it’s a chronic issue you have with all boyfriends, in which case, you need to figure out how to deal with it yourself.

After you’ve admitted you’re jealous, figured out why you’re jealous, and figured out how you’re going to deal with that, you can move on to what you should do in your relationship.

Jealousy is a projection of our insecurities on someone else. This does not, however, mean that you don’t have anything to be worried about from his end. It’s quite possible he could hurt you very badly because he’s not over his ex, but being hurt is just one of the risks we take in being with anyone, anyway. If, after you’ve owned your jealousy, it still really bothers you that he talks to her, make an ultimatum out of it — “her or me”. And if he picks her, well, problem solved.

I’ve talked before about dealbreakers. If something your BF does bothers you, you confront him about it. If it bothers you so much you can’t be with him because of it, it’s a dealbreaker. And if he can’t stop the dealbreaker, then you break up.

So after you’ve admitted that you own the reasons it bothers you and this jealousy is yours, then you can let him know it bothers you. My advice is to be completely open about this with your partner. Either you will get over the fact that he talks to this ex, or he’ll quit talking to her, or you’ll break up. In my mind, the best way for you to get to any of these eventual outcomes is to talk with him about it.

Rest assured: lots of people talk to their exes. I do, in fact. Not all the time. And not in the same way we talked when we were together.

If he is talking to his ex as if she’s still his GF, okay, yes, you have a big problem, and it’s coming from him rather than from you. You’d probably be better off dumping him and finding someone who’s ready for a current relationship, rather than one that’s in the past. This is a hard thing to decide. It’s very easy to be cut and dry in an advice column on a blog on the Interwebs instead of living in the real world.

I’m going to say what I always say: trust your gut. I broke up with a guy when I was in 7th grade because he wasn’t over his ex. It took me exactly two weeks to figure this out. And I broke up with another one when I was 28 because he wasn’t over his ex either. It took me two months to do this because 13-year-old me is better at listening to her gut than 28-year-old me. Trust me — you’ll feel better if you cut it off than if you just wait around for him to realize how much better you are than she is. He either knows that already or he never will.

Furthermore, if you’re not capable of being in a relationship without being extremely jealous, you’ve got issues you need to address in your head before you subject someone to this kind of relationship stuff. It’s quite possible he’s not doing anything wrong, and it’s your problem. Be aware of that — it’s not fair to him to be jealous about everything he does.

If the two of you are interested in each other, and want to make it work, it has to be about what you two are doing, not who else in the world is in love with him. Work it out between the two of you. Just make sure you’re not projecting your own issues onto the relationship. You can work through your individual issues with him to some extent, but it’s got to be open and fair. Just communicate with each other, and things will work out how they may.


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