Sep 302011
 

These tips on how to cope with jealousy when your boyfriend sees his ex-girlfriend are based on my experience, and inspired by a reader’s question:

“He assures me he loves me and he only wants to be with me,” says A. on How to Stop Obsessing About Your Ex. “Their relationship will never be romantic again. But why does he feel he needs to keep her in his life? Why does she not let him move on? It is starting to really make me crazy and I just need some solid advice…”

The first thing you need to do is deal with your own feelings of insecurity, fear, and jealousy. I wasn’t just jealous when my husband had lunch with his ex-girlfriend – I was insecure and scared he still wanted her! I was worried he wasn’t over her, that he and she would fall into their old romance (which was long dead) or even fall into bed (in the middle of the Starbucks?).

I let my imagination run wild because I was scared he’d leave me for her. I refused to admit I felt jealous and insecure – but I did.

If you feel the same way, read Relationship Saboteurs: Overcoming the Ten Behaviors that Undermine Love. That book offers great tips for identifying and stopping the behaviors and thought patterns – such as irrational jealousy – than can destroy your relationship.

How to Cope With Jealousy When Your Boyfriend Sees His Ex

Learn why your boyfriend needs to see his ex-girlfriend

My husband genuinely cares for his ex. He feels ever-so-slightly responsible for her, and wants to see her happy and financially stable. He meets her for lunch every couple of years, is still returning her books and random belongings, and updates her on the cat she gave him. He kept reassuring me that it meant nothing – she was a person from his past that he once loved, and he didn’t want to just cut her out of his life.

After six years of being happily married, I now see that it’s all true. His ex-girlfriend isn’t a threat; she’s just a part of his past. His purpose for seeing her is simple: she’s a fellow human being – someone he once loved.

Some boyfriends or husbands stay connected with their ex-girlfriends or ex-wives because they’re raising children together. That can raise its own problems – read about how toxic ex-wives affect new relationships.

But sometimes staying connected to an ex isn’t healthy…

Recognize when he’s seeing or talking to his ex “too much”

There’s a big difference between your boyfriend seeing his ex-girlfriend once every couple of years, versus talking to her on the phone every day. My reader says, “I saw on his phone that they spoke twice yesterday. He has yet to disclose this to me personally.”

She and her boyfriend agreed that he would tell her when they spoke or met – which is what my husband and I agreed, too. My husband said it was very difficult for him to tell me when he saw or spoke to his ex-girlfriend, because he didn’t want to hurt me. He didn’t want me to feel jealous, insecure, or scared.

I think A.’s boyfriend should NOT be talking to his ex-girlfriend twice a day. Even if they have kids together, that’s too much contact. I think he’s overstepping a boundary.

What are his reasons for staying connected with his ex-girlfriend? There’s a need that is being met.

Stand your ground – you are NOT crazy!

Some girlfriends feel crazy, often because their boyfriends tell them they’re overreacting, or are unreasonably jealous or insecure. If you’re confused about how you should feel, run your thoughts and feelings by someone you trust (not necessarily your mom who will side with you no matter what!).

Talk to someone who can offer an objective perspective – preferably someone who knows both of you.

Be honest, and insist on being treated with respect

Tell your boyfriend that his seeing or talking to his ex-girlfriend makes you jealous, uncomfortable, or anxious. Be as honest as you can – be more honest than I was with my husband! If you tell him how you feel, no matter how painful it is or vulnerable you feel, then you’re getting to the heart of the matter. That is very good.

If you tell your boyfriend that his actions make you feel jealous, insecure, or nervous, then you have every right to expect him to change his actions (especially if you are supported with an objective perspective!).

If he doesn’t change his actions, then you need to examine your relationship. I believe that if a man loves a woman, he will change his behavior to make her happy. You need to decide if this is a “make or break” situation – a deal breaker. If you can’t live with your boyfriend seeing his ex-girlfriend, then you need to be prepared to leave.

Trust God, your Higher Power, or the Universe

If you’re meant to be with your boyfriend, then you will be with him. My husband’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend was over long before he and I got married. I didn’t trust God that we were meant to be together – I believed my emotions! That was a mistake.

Don’t let your emotions ruin your love relationship. Stand back, get an objective perspective, set your boundaries, and be strong.

If you are confused about your relationship, read What is a Healthy Relationship? 5 Signs of True Love.


Fix Your Marriage

Do you get jealous when your boyfriend sees his ex-girlfriend (you must, or you wouldn’t be here!)? Comments welcome below…

I welcome your thoughts, but I can't give personal advice or feedback. It may help you to share your experience in the comments section below - writing often brings clarity and insight.

  8 Responses to “How to Cope With Jealousy When Your Boyfriend Sees His Ex”

  1. Well, Angie, it sounds like you need to decide if you want to stay with your boyfriend and accept your relationship the way is — and that means accepting his relationship with his ex for what it is — or say what you’ve been wanting to say.

    Have you told him that his relationship with his ex is causing you to want to break up with him?

  2. I have been in a distance relationship for 3 years. My boyfriend lived in country A, I live in country B. then he moved to country C in order to be close to me. I usually come and visit him and we love each other very much. Once, I found out a woman calling him or he calling her everyday. I asked him and he told me that was his best friend. She has 2 kids and she’s now going to be divorced and he just wants to help her, give her some advice and he has deep connection with the kids. I trusted him and try to be OK. Then by accident I found out that’s was his ex girlfriend and I also found that my boyfriend put his ex girlfriend and my name and his family on his testament. Even now sometimes he supports her financially and they keep in touch everyday. I truly don’t care much about money issue but my concern here is if my boyfriend stills has some feelings for his ex even though he told me that they are now best friends and that’s it. I have tried to trust him but I can’t. I want to say the words ” we should breakup” many times but I can’t because I really love him. What should I do now?

  3. Thank you for taking the time to answer me. I am sure that asking him to choose between her or me is not going to work but on the other hand it’s not going to work for me that he is seeing her so often both on his own and with the group of friends they share. I am not a jealopus person but I am very intuitive and I knew there was shomething not right. He has been very secretive about seeing her and I do not have a doubt in my mind that he is only with me because she is getting married. I also know that she is not sure about getting married (she has been on and off with my boyfriend and her fiancee since they were all 19!!)and that she needs to have him in her back pocket just in case. And now I am pretty sure he needs her in his back pocket in case she becomes available too (I give it a few years given the usual timjeframe in their history)I might be stupid but I’d rather leave the situation than ending up in a Prince Charles/Camilla/Diana situation a few years down the line. If he had truly moved on he would not see her that often and spend less time with those friends and more with his other friends that don’t know her. I find it a bit hard of you to tell me I need to deal with my jealousy when in fact your husband seeing his ex only once in a blue moon upset you too!! This is of a different scale, massively different here and there was a lot of secrecy around her. Moreover he has not asked me to marry him and only said he loved me recently. I am talking about him moving to her area after we had met (I only found out recently) and many other secretive stuff he didn’t share with me. I don’t think I am being crazy, if I did that to a guy then i’d understand if he was asking me to choose. Thanks for your help though and you are right, I will just break it off and once i recover from yet another heartbreak (which obviously brings back awful memeories of losing the love of my life…as you know heartbreak is cumulative) I will make sure I am less of a fool and not trust a guy too quickly. Best wishes

  4. Dear Lily,

    I’m sorry that the love of your life died. That must have been so difficult to cope with! You’re a survivor.

    About your boyfriend’s ex…I know I’d feel the same way. I’d be hurt and worried if my boyfriend was going out for drinks with his ex, especially given his past with her.

    It’s always better if there’s no contact between the ex’s! My husband hasn’t talked to his ex in a couple of years, and I like it that way.

    But, just because a boyfriend is in contact with his ex doesn’t mean we need to be jealous or worried. Their sexual and emotional relationship could be long over, and all that’s left is innocent affection and historical connection. I don’t think we can ask our boyfriends or husbands to completely cut all ties with their pasts. It’s not healthy to just ignore a huge piece of one’s life, and that’s what jealous girlfriends want.

    I don’t think your boyfriend would rather have his ex at his birthday party than you. I think it was just a party, and his friends are going to celebrate.

    It’s not an easy situation — and I don’t think you’ve been a fool!

    If you love your boyfriend – if he’s a truly nice guy that you can envision a future with – then I’d lean towards coping with your feelings of jealously without forcing him not to have contact with his ex-girlfriend. I encourage you to get as emotionally healthy as possible, as confident within yourself as you can, and not try to control who he spends time with. The more you fight his relationship with his ex, the more he’ll back away from you.

    This takes nerves of steel!

    On the other hand, if you absolutely cannot live with your boyfriend having contact with his ex, then you need to break it off with him. I don’t think giving him a “her or me” ultimatum will work, because his circle of friends includes her.

    What do you think?

  5. Hi, I have met a nice guy about a year ago. It was 8 months after the love of my life had died so I was not in a great place but it was nice to meet him and he sounded like he wanted to be serious with me. He didn’t talk much about his past but one day he looked all grey and told me his ex was getting married…I was a bit surprised that he was so upset about it. He told me he had moved out of the country for a year to forget about her and that she had been on and off with him and another bloke -the one she is now marrying- since they were all 19 year old (they are now in their mid-thirties!!!)After this I sort of forgot about it and we started getting quite serious, he even said he loved me…
    In the summer he admitted to have moved to the same neighborhood as all their common friends live around there and to see her for drinks after work regularly but that nothing sexual woould happen now as she was getting married. I wasn’t comfortable with it as i believe you should be with someone on a mental, emmotional and physical level if you really want a relationship to work. I wasn’t happy but didn’t know what to do…I knew it wasn’t right but I don’t want to be controlling…but I made clear I didn’t want to meet her.
    Then last week it was his birthday and he wanted me to be introduced to his friends. I am quite shy so it was a big step for me so i was nervous but excited. On the day I called to ask what the plan was and he said “yeah come but I warn you my ex will be there”…I was so upset as he knew it meant I would not be comfortable to come given their history. I told him there was going to be no future between us if he’d rather have her than me at his birthday do. He has not contacted me since and I am not sure he will…Have I been a fool all along??

  6. I’m in my first serious relationship and have been with my boyfriend for a little over two years now. Before me, he dated a girl off and on for the better part of five years. They were each others first loves. She ended up moving to Texas towards the end of 2009 and left him broke hearted. After she left, she didn’t speak to him in any way – she didn’t answer or return his calls, texts, IMs, or emails. No contact whatsoever. Not until we started dating in June of 2010. She started texting him the night we became “official” on Facebook, and started talking to him almost every day. He broke up with me six months later, said he didn’t feel he was being a good boyfriend and just had too many things going on within him that he had to deal with. We got back together two months later. And, not surprisingly, I found out as soon as we broke up, his ex stopped all communication with him once again. Things have been going well since we got back together, and I found out about a month ago that she booked a flight to come back home to visit. I’ve been silently stressing because I didn’t know when she was going to be here, and how this is going to affect my relationship when they see each other. I’ve always been the kind of person to let things go – I believe in worrying as little as possible because working yourself up is such a waste of time. Last night after we got settled into bed, he started trying to say something, but didn’t (like when you almost start to speak but change your mind and wait for a better moment). After a few minutes, he told me that his ex had gotten a hold of him yesterday and said she was in town and wanted to see him. And he asked me if it was okay! I couldn’t say no, because I knew he would do it behind my back. And even though I’m not fond of her, I would never tell him what he could and could not do.

    After reading the story about you, your husband, and his ex, I think I’m able to see my situation from a whole new perspective. I think sometimes it’s hard not to be jealous or scared that you aren’t quite good enough. It’s been really hard for me not to compare myself to her (especially since she has done things to her looks that make me wonder if she’s trying to look like me – and what if she’s a better me?). He hasn’t personally shown me any reason to doubt our relationship, and when he says she’s just a friend – that he’s always going to care about her but they’re over – I believe him. I’m really glad I came across your article. I can honestly say it helped me with own situation and gave me a little confidence in my relationship. Thank you.

  7. My b.f.not only talks to his ex every day he pays her rent and cell phone bill. I cant do this any more. I dont want to.

  8. Hello I cant figure out where to start or go with this but I think I need some advice. 12 years ago I met my boyfriend….since then we have had 5 children…..He has never cheated on me (that I know of). He has gotten caught lieing to me about stupid little things, but a lie is a lie to me no matter how small. Anyway we have never had a problem with our sex life or anything like that untill this….Okay so his sister was and still is friends with his ex from before he met me.His sister does not like me and no matter how nice I have been to her she still tells my boyfriend to leave me…Well a few weeks ago my boyfriends father passed away, And now after 14 years of not seeing/talking to his ex girlfriend she has the nerve to show up at the wake with his sister.And his sister had the nerve to tell me that his ex had more of a right to be there at the wake than my children and I had. I believe that him seeing her after all this time has brought back memories and he is trying to sabatoge our relationship by making it seem like my fault. Now he does not want to have sex with me ,he makes it seem like a chore ,he really cant kiss me like he used to .We just had our 5th baby 4 months ago, and I am really hoping that he dont want her back now. I really want to believe that I am just going through a serious bout of post partum depression.And me accusing him of still having feelings for her is making him not want to have sex with me like hes saying….This would not be such a big deal for me but ALL these years that i have been with him he never told me his siter was his ex girls best friend.not knowing till now that every argument me and him have had his ex knows about, as well as the births of our children his ex knows too much about him and I that its like shes still in his life through his sister…I am thinking that his ex is just waiting for my boyfriend to come back to her.I did tell him that if his sister was still going to run back and tell his ex everything that goes on in our relationship that he would either have to stop talking to his sister or I was leaving.I know thats not fair but … I just dont know what to do……I am completly lost..

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