How to Cope With Jealousy When Your Boyfriend Sees His Ex

You know he loves you…but is he still emotionally attached to his ex girlfriend? These tips on how to cope with jealousy when your boyfriend sees his ex are based on my experience, and inspired by a reader’s question.

jealous when boyfriend sees his ex girlfriend

Is your jealousy sabotaging your relationship? 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.

“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, these tips on how to deal with jealousy may help.

Coping With Jealousy When Your Boyfriend Sees His Ex

Sometimes we’re jealous for a reason. If you don’t trust your boyfriend, read Dealing With Trust Issues in Relationships.

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

How to Cope With Jealousy When Your Boyfriend Sees His Ex

How to Cope With Jealousy When Your Boyfriend Sees His Ex

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.

Do you get jealous when your boyfriend sees his ex-girlfriend (you must, or you wouldn’t be here!)? Comments welcome below.  I can’t offer advice, but it may help you to share what you’re going through.

Fix Your Marriage

Jealousy in romance is like salt in food.  A little can enhance the flavor, but too much can spoil the pleasure and, sometimes, be life-threatening.  Maya Angelou

Article Name
How to Cope With Jealousy When Your Boyfriend Sees His Ex
Tips on how to cope with jealousy when your boyfriend sees his ex girlfriend, based on my experience, and inspired by a reader’s question.

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Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen
I'm a full-time freelance writer and blogger in Vancouver, BC. I created the "Quips and Tips" blog series; my degrees are in Education, Psychology, and Social Work. I welcome your comments below, but I don't give advice. I can offer you a prayer and a blessing, though! You'd be surprised how helpful a prayer can be....

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14 Responses

  1. Laurie says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts here – it takes alot of courage to express how you feel when you’re coping with jealousy! It’s painful when your boyfriend sees his ex-girlfriend, especially if you’re in a new relationship. I remember being very jealous when my husband talked about his ex. I couldn’t stand it if he actually saw her, or stayed at her place.

    I wish you God’s peace and blessing on your relationship with your boyfriend. May you and he build trust, and may he be wholly devoted to you. If he is not, my prayer is that you find the courage and strength you need to let him go, and move on with your life.


    • Susan says:

      Thank you for posting this article! Many women seem to struggle with this situation and having a boyfriend who is in touch with an ex is really hard and makes you insecure and unnerves you. I’ve just recently separated from my husband about 6 months ago and now how a another lovely man in my life. I’m determined not to repeat the same mistakes I made in my marriage. I was very insecure and jealous and it really made the relationship very hard. I used to get so angry. I now am really tested as the man I’m with now is very attractive and has several ex-casual girls “friends” he used to spend time with that are now his friends. He has not been with anyone seriously for 4 years and I know he is crazy about me. I’m trying to keep an open mind and push through this. Any tips?? From all the comments I’m reading about all the women in different situations, trust is the hardest thing to give as heart break and being backstabbed is one of the hardest emotions to have to go through. We must stay strong and maybe gently ask him (when you are both in a great mood), “do you still have feelings for her?” If the answer is “no” TRUST HIM. I KNOW, harder said them done, but otherwise you can never be in any healthy and happy relationship. Believe me, I struggle with this but honestly, if he is telling you that he is hanging out with her and still speaks to her there is nothing to hide. Try and keep an open mind girls and push through the jealous emotion. It will pass. Remember, this also give you the freedom to still be in touch with your own ex and male friends. This gives you freedom! Stay strong girls! Thanks for all the posts.

  2. Kay says:

    I have been dating ‘W’ for 9-10 months. Right in the beginning, he was up front about his ex-girlfriend. Apparently, he supported her for years over their tumultuous 11-year relationship. They broke up about 1.5 years ago. He told me that he was still paying for her health insurance which is like $300/month. I didn’t really like all this, but he said he was actively trying to get her off the insurance so I let it slide. Shortly after we became official, she sort-of cyber bullied me on FB – I’ll spare you the details. W down-played the psycho-ness of the situation, but removed the post to make me happy. After this, I asked him to block her and that I would appreciate if he limited contact with her on texts, instagram, etc. He has made it repeatedly clear that they were/are/and will still be in contact and I might see texts from her. I have told him several times that this bothers me and he always says that “she was really important to me for 11 years, I can’t just cut her off. I can’t just stop talking to her. I still really care about what happens to her.” Apparently, she has a pace maker (she’s 33) and health issues. I totally understand that, but she makes at least $100,000/year and comes from money AND she has a PhD boyfriend!! Luckily, she lives 2,000 miles away. by the way – that makes this insurance fraud. Anyway, he keeps saying that he is going to talk to her about the insurance, but it has been a long time and no tangible action. I’m left with 1) Why is he still paying her bill? 2) Why doesn’t he honor my reasonable request to limit contact with this woman? P. S. I pay $420 out of pocket for my insurance! He doesn’t help me with that!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My boyfriend broke up with his ex 4 months ago and we’ve been together ever since.. But he keeps talking to her and keeps wanting to meet up with her… She lives a little far (5hrs drive from our place) and their mutuall friend is coming to visit them after 4 year this weekend so he wants to go by all means… I’m not comfortable with this cuz he will be sleeping over at his exes and will be there for 2 full days.. It gives him a good excuse to go see his ex and I don’t want her to be around him at all… I suggested I’d come along but she obviously doesn’t want to see me since I’m the one he chose over her . I don’t know what to do :( it’s killing me . I trust him but I don’t trust her

  4. Maricar says:

    why does my boyfriend need to reconnect to his ex-girlfriend on facebook by adding her as his friend?the girl was actually not an ex-girlfriend, but they have something before. i don’t understand why is there a need for him to reconnect to his ex..the girl is now in a relationship,married actually.this thing does not sounds good for me, i can’t accept it. now, i’m starting to freak out! and wanting him to go out to my and my daughters life..what should i do. if this really not makes me comfortable while he also believes that he did not do anything wrong. what should i do?what should be my next step for me not to feel this way? i believe that i deserve to be treated right, and thus, if he cannot live with me alone, then, i will let him go..i believe that reconnecting to ex- might start something wrong.

  5. Bee says:

    Hi guys I really need some advise because I’m emotionally wrecked and physically just not my self so basically my boyfriend who I’ve been with almost a year. We’ve always had ups and downs but he’s all ways come begging back and I’ve slowly fallen for him we had a a great few month of the relationship yes with arguments but we got through it but things are slightly going out of hand now is it because I’m getting attached and slowly falling for him more and more we don’t have that sparke there like before but it’s ok we can deal with Tht and he’s fine with it before he used to give me so much time now he’s barely gives us time I don’t want to sound like I’m running after him because I’m not desperate by all means anyways he’s had a fair share of girlfriends but thts his past but what bothers me is his petty lies so when we first met he told me he dosnt talk to girls we’ll not Tht many not in the flirty way anyway but he was talking to ex girlfriend which was a good friend he said but why did he lie and day it’s his relative? Anyways i put that past me and now the real thing thts bothering me is trust how can I trust him when he lies? It’s now the hoildays and his cousins and family coming round to stay for week or two but the twisted part is is cousin sister is his one of his ex girlfriends and from what I gather he seemed fond of her until she cheated on him but I personally think he’s fond of her I don’t what to say or how describe it though it’s very very strange and oh yeah this cousin which is his ex gf still wants him back and now she’s there in the same house with him and my paranoia and anxiety is high up I just don’t know what to do he hasn’t been calling me or talking as much no calls and be gives a one word text middle of the night when he’s got nothing else to do so now I’m not giving replies to him I’m making same effort as him so much more that I can say but on top of my head I can’t rember now although there’s other people in the house as them I still feel worried that she’ll or they’ll hit it up again.

  6. Laurie says:

    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?

  7. Angieeva says:

    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?

  8. lily says:

    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

  9. Laurie says:

    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?

  10. Lily says:

    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??

  11. Kim says:

    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.

  12. Hyheeksnekerz says:

    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.

  13. Melissa says:

    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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