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Trouble with my Girlfriend and her Ex-Boyfriend

Is She Still in Love with Him?

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I was reading over some of your advice and the post about the couple where one was very in love and the other was still involved with her ex really struck a nerve. My girlfriend and I have been together since last July. It's been a pretty easy seven months for us. We have a lot of fun together, talk like we're best friends and respect each other a great deal.

HOWEVER, she too, has an ex boyfriend whom always gets brought up at least once in every conversation. She's usually bitching about him because he still texts, emails and calls her, but it seems like she's living in the past and isn't truly over him. They had a very on-off relationship for four years and brought out the worst in each other, so I can't figure it out.

Her Friends are in Love with Her

Another thing is that she has a lot of friends who say they're in love with her and yet she still hangs out with them (even alone at her house) like they're just regular friends. Is this normal? Should I tell her she can't?

I’ve tried to inform her many times that in order for a new relationship to work, we need to try to eliminate the things that'll make us insecure, meaning all of the past and would-be romances of her life. She says I’m more than welcome to talk and hang out with my exes, but it's clear that she's saying this so she can have a guilt-free permission slip to do the same.

We're so close in many ways, but I just don't know if I can fight for a relationship when the other person doesn't take it as serious as I do.

Feeling Left Out in Lexington

Dear Lexi,

It sounds to me like you have some concerns about whether or not your girlfriend is as serious about the relationship as you are. Let’s deal with your concerns one at a time.

First of all, you’ve only been together for seven months. That may feel like a long time, but really, you’re just getting to know one another. I don’t recommend that any couple make any kind of commitment until they’ve been together for at least a year. So, for you to be wondering if she has the same level of commitment as you do is kind of premature. These issues that you have going on are actually a blessing. How you deal with them will be very telling about how the rest of your relationship unfolds.

Conflict is Good

Conflict in a relationship is necessary. You have to figure out an amiable way to work out your differences. And obviously the two of you have different ideas about what is and is not okay in a relationship.

Now, about her ex-boyfriend. I can understand that it’s frustrating for you to hear about him all the time. But after all, they were together for four years. It will probably take her some time to get over him. You’re right, she might not be able to make the kind of commitment you want if she is still processing what went on with them. You didn’t say how long they were broken up when the two of you got together. The truth is, she does need to process that relationship. Does she need to do it with you? No, of course not.

We all learn from our past relationships. They affect how we are in our current and future relationships. I suggest you tell her you would rather she work those issues out with someone else. Is she over him or not? I don’t know. She may not know herself. That could be what some of her processing is about. But you have to understand that you can’t rush her.

Did you get involved too soon?

Maybe the two of you got involved too soon after she broke up with him and she didn’t have time to fully get over him. Be patient, give her time, but just be clear that you don’t always want to hear about him.

You comment “We need to try to eliminate the things that'll make us insecure, meaning all of the past and would-be romances of her life” concerns me. We can’t rid ourselves of our pasts. They make up who we are. Many, if not most, of the lesbians I know are good friends with their exes. I think this is healthy. Just because they didn’t make it as lovers, doesn’t mean they can’t be friends.

A little insecurity on your part is normal. But it's not up to her to remove that for you. That is something you will have to work on for yourself. She is with you now, not her ex and not those others who have feelings for her. Trying to control her is not going to make her stay.

So, no you can’t tell her who she can and can’t hang out with. There is a fine line here between you needing to trust her and her needing to respect your feelings.

Don’t Let it Cross the Line

If friends have crushes on her, it’s not her fault. As long as she is clear with them that she is not available, doesn’t let things cross the intimacy line and is honest with you about what is going on. Hanging out with them is fine.

But, it you feel she is leading them on, that is disrespectful to you and to them. What’s really going on here is that you’re not sure you can trust her. Can you? I don’t know. And you won’t know either until something happens to betray your trust. But one thing I do know is trying to control someone is not going to make her trustworthy. It sounds like it’s time for the two of you to have a serious sit-down talk. Like I said earlier, the outcome will predict a lot, not only about this current conflict, but about your ability to deal with conflicts in the future.

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