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My Boyfriend Is Close to His Ex and I'm Jealous


Published September 23, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated September 23, 2015 at 2:21 p.m.

Dear Athena,

My boyfriend is really close with one of his ex-girlfriends, and it's starting to really bother me. I'm feeling jealous. They were together many years ago, but it was serious and they are still really good friends. They hang out a lot and talk on the phone and go out to bars sometimes. I'm not comfortable with how close they are and if there are still feelings there. She is single. Should I say something? He's mine and I don't want to share. Is it OK to not want them to be friends? Can I tell him to stop hanging out with her?


All Eyes on Me, Please

Dear All Eyes,

What is it that bothers you most about their friendship? Do you worry that they'll get back together? Or do you fear that your boyfriend is closer with his ex than with you?

This might be tough to hear, but in some ways they are closer. They have been though a relationship and come out on the other side as friends. That takes maturity and a strong sense of security. But he's with you now. He only wants part of her, whereas he wants all of you. She can't compare to that.

The expression "You belong to me" is sweet but misguided. We don't own our partners. The beauty of a good relationship is that it is about choice. In a world of options and distractions, our partners choose us. Whether they're conscious of it or not, they choose us every single day.

Forbidding your boyfriend from seeing one of his closest friends may alienate you from him. So before you put the kibosh on their bond, try telling him about your jealousy. Maybe you just need a little reassurance that you are his one and only. For the sake of your relationship, he needs to hear that. Otherwise, your insecurity will only increase and you might start to resent him when he doesn't even know what's going on.

Remember, your boyfriend existed long before you came along, and he has a history that shapes who he is today (as you do). This ex is part of the history. Try to respect that, because his history made him into the man you love.

You say his ex is single. If he really wanted to, don't you think he would just end it with you and take this opportunity to be with her again? Have faith in the bond you share, and stop comparing your relationship with theirs. It will only corrode your trust.

Of course, if he is being inappropriate by having sleepovers or flirting with her, then you most certainly need to talk to him about boundaries. But if it's the innocent, platonic friendship it sounds like it is — one that has existed for a long time — take a step back. Tell him how you feel, and ask him to help you with your feelings. I'm confident you'll get the reinforcement you seek.