So your boyfriend still hangs with his ex. He doesn’t necessarily give you any reason not to trust him… but you’re not sure how you feel about the whole situation. Should you just stay cool, work on your fears and insecurities and keep these thoughts to yourself? Or should you be more open with him and start a conversation about it?
Perhaps in your experience it’s been awkward to socialise with someone you used to have sex with… and maybe you never wanted to stay good friends with them. You don’t see yourself as a jealous person, but it’s difficult to see this from a different point of view. So let me give you a male perspective.
Why Would Your Boyfriend Still Talk To His Ex?
First of all, I understand what it’s like to want to “stay close with your ex”. I’ve been with quite a few women and still feel close with several of them. Even if we haven’t talked in a while.
I even still feel love for a few of them. Not the needy, attached kind of “love”, but the admiring, caring kind. Like with friends.
I feel it because they’re incredible human beings.
They didn’t stop being incredible when we stopped sleeping together, and they didn’t stop being incredible when I started seeing other women… so those particular feelings about them didn’t change. Perhaps they faded a little, but they’re there.
I admire them, I care that they’re happy, and I like being around them, because we understand each other. If I saw them in the street I would hug them… and I would mean it.
But I’d be hugging a close friend, not an ex-girlfriend. I’m not hugging a memory of them… I’m hugging them because of my current feelings, which I described above.
There’s love there but, if I’m in a relationship, there’s no desire to sleep with my ex or anything like that. Because my partner is my priority, and I would never hurt my partner like that. It’s a choice I’ve made in advance, and I intend to honour it.
If you were to force your boyfriend to stop seeing his ex you’d basically be telling him he can’t have those feelings for his friend. You’re also telling him that you don’t fully trust him.
I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing. The first point I’m making here is that your boyfriend may still feel love for his ex in some way, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean he loves YOU any less. And it doesn’t mean you’re any less of a priority.
You sometimes feel drawn to other guys in some ways, right? Of course you do. That’s what people do… we connect. It’s healthy. But it doesn’t mean you’ll sleep with them, or DO anything with them. Which leads me to my next point…
How To Avoid Fucking This Up
The strongest relationships are the ones where both partners can share any and all of their feelings without judgement. Because it’s not the feelings that are important… it’s the CHOICES you make as a result of those feelings.
You may not like your partner’s feelings, but you shouldn’t try to manipulate them. You should make an effort to understand them and THEN decide how to act, together, based on what’s best for each partner individually… AND for the relationship as a whole.
There’s no point wishing that your partner’s feelings were different… because they’re not. We become closest with our partner when we can work through our feelings together. And all hell breaks loose when we keep our true feelings hidden…
Like a cancer-infested ticking time bomb.
If you try to make your boyfriend feel a certain way, you’ll push him away. Like trying to make him “love” you more by removing his ex from his life.
If he enjoys spending time with his ex but knows you want him to stop seeing her, you’ll turn it into a negative experience for him. He’ll start looking for ways to make the bad feelings go away…
He could stop seeing his ex… but he may resent you for taking away something that made him happy.
He could try to stop enjoying seeing his ex… but how would he even do that?
Finally, he could push you away (by cheating, starting a fight, breaking up) so that he’s free to do the things he enjoys, without feeling bad. The worse you make him feel, the more attractive this option becomes. And it may not even really be a conscious decision on his part.
It could feel like the relationship just deteriorated over time… (due to said cancer).
How To Talk To Your Boyfriend About His Ex
So to answer your question… YES, work on your fears and insecurities around this. But don’t do it on your own. You won’t figure them out that way. You’ll have to understand HIS feelings before you can get to a place where you’re okay with the situation.
Do it together, without trying to control how he feels.
Start with something like this:
“This is hard for me to get my head around. I know you like hanging out with your ex… and I trust you. I just have my own fears an insecurities around it that I’m working through, and it’d help if I understood it from your point of view.”
Shift the focus of your overthinking away from questions like “what if something happened between them?” and instead try to figure out “what’s good about the fact that he still sees his ex?”
Does it make you happy that he’s happy, for instance? Does it give you an opportunity to get to know him better? To build trust that brings you closer together?
Ask him what he gets out of it and see if you can relate in some way. Read this article about being a good listener if you want to learn how to do this without starting a fight.
What If My Boyfriend Cheats On Me?
Now, on the flipside, assuming that you actually can’t trust him… overthinking it isn’t going to change that. Nothing will.
In fact, if he‘s going to cheat on you… why are you trying to keep him from doing that? Why are you trying to keep him at all? He’s already the kind of guy who cheats.
If you find out that he’s been doing it behind your back… then he never was the guy you thought he was. He fooled you, and that sucks… sure. But you haven’t lost a good partner. You just never had one.
And you probably learned something, at least.
My point here is that you’re overthinking the wrong thing… because you’ll never find the answer to “should I trust him or not?”
The only thing you can do is be open about your feelings and encourage him to do the same, by receiving them without judgement. Then try to understand each other deeply, and make decisions together based on that.
Thanks for all your comments, we actually recorded this video response to one of the questions below.