Is your boyfriend’s ex poking her nose into your business? Here’s how to set boundaries and protect your relationship.
So, you're dating a guy who is perfect in every department except for one small issue: his ex-girlfriend. They broke up ages ago, and he's adamant they're just friends, but why does it feel like a stab in the heart every time he mentions her name? Why does their friendship annoy you so much?
Do you talk to him about it rationally and hope he'll understand how you feel? Or do you give him an ultimatum, so she'll disappear forever? Is that even okay? I mean, you wouldn't want to come off as a jealous and possessive girlfriend. How do you handle an ex-girlfriend who won't go away?
Are Your Feelings Valid or Are You Insecure?
Let's start with the glaring question first, shall we? Why is she in his life? Seriously. If they don't have kids or own a business together, do they really need to be friends? Probably not. There are billions of people on the planet, so surely they can find friendships elsewhere?
Can you be friends with someone you've been intimate with in the past? I don't think you can, in my personal opinion. Why? Because friends don't have sex with each other. They also don't become emotionally entangled. If you cross that line, you aren't "just friends" anymore. You become lovers. It doesn't matter if it was in the past. They crossed that boundary, and who's to say those old feelings won't resurface? It only takes one trip down memory lane, and bam, they're back to square one.
Friends don't have sex with each other, so if you cross that line, you aren't "just friends" anymore.
So that pang you feel on the inside is your intuition telling you that something is off. It's not you being insecure or jealous, and you're not crazy for feeling like this. Based on their history, your feelings are 100% valid. Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot. I'm sure he wouldn't be happy if your ex-boyfriend were to poke his nose around. It's basic human instincts.
What Is He Doing About It?
You can't control your man's behavior, but you can learn a lot by observing his actions.
How he deals with his ex can tell you whether she’s the problem or whether he might still have feelings for her and they have unfinished business. What are some key signs to look out for to determine where he stands in all of this?
Observe the way he talks about her.
Is he blasé about her, or does he talk about her like she's the greatest thing since sliced bread? The former probably means he's over her, but the latter indicates he might still have feelings for her. The truth is when a man is over a woman, he’s generally neutral about it or doesn't feel the need to mention her at all. But if he still gushes about her, then doesn't that tell you something?
When a man is over a woman, he’s generally neutral about it or doesn’t mention her at all.
How does he make you feel about it?
Is he respectful and protects you from her, or does he rub it in your face? If he's protective of you and cares about your feelings, he won't bring her up in conversation because everyone knows that's rude and disrespectful. But if he's always bringing her up, maybe a small part of him enjoys the drama of having two women fight over him? Look, he might not be aware he's doing it, and he probably isn't being malicious, but sometimes people unconsciously test your boundaries to see if you'll call them out on it. To see if you have any self-worth.
The best way to approach the situation is to be honest about being hurt. Being open and vulnerable shows that you have feelings and boundaries that he should respect.
You can do this by sincerely expressing your feelings. For example: "Sweetie, I know you and [insert her name] are friends, and you have a history. I understand that. But whenever I hear you talk about her, or when she texts, calls, emails, etc., it hurts me. It makes me feel unhappy and like I'm not good enough, and I don't like it."
Be honest about being hurt — it shows you have feelings and boundaries that he should respect.
Then pause and see what he says. He might get defensive or argumentative, but that's because you've called him out on it. Don't take the bait by arguing back. Remain calm instead. You could even walk away for more effect. But don't bring it up again, and don't ask for an apology. You've said your piece, and he heard you. It might take him some time to digest what just happened, but he now knows that having her in the picture hurts you, and it's his job to fix it.
Dealing with this can be awkward and will take some courage, but you can do it. Always remember that you deserve to be in a relationship that makes you feel safe, and you should never have to compete for your man's attention. Remember your self-worth and never stay silent about behavior that crosses your boundaries.