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How do I handle my girlfriend's ex without punching him in the face?

Tagged as: The ex-factor<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (6 August 2018) 6 Answers - (Newest, 9 August 2018)
A male United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

Hey people,

I never usually ask questions like this online but I don't really know how to talk to anyone else about this. So sorry if this is all over the place. Anyway, I have been in a relationship with an amazing girl for the last 8 months and everything is going great with us. The issue is that her ex still tries to act like her current boyfriend and has no boundaries.

They were together for about 4 years and broke up a little over a year ago. Before they got together they were friends and have a lot of mutual friends in common so they have no choice but to still be around each other for the sake of their mutual friends.

When I first met them all he was really cool and just acted like any other of her friends so I thought everything would be smooth sailing. However the longer we stayed together the more he started to act like her boyfriend and try to wind me up. For example, he would bring up things that they did in the past both sexually and non sexually, he would put his arm around her, or try giving her an unnecessary amount of physical contact. He also introduced me to someone as her rebound.

My girlfriend has tried to get him to stop and even blocked him on social media from messaging her. The tension got so bad when we went on holiday with them that she spent a night crying on my shoulder and then left 2 days early. She's constantly having to correct his behaviour and I can see its getting tiring for her.

I have tried to get him to leave her alone too but he just makes out that I'm the jealous one to their friends and they stop talking to her for a while and get weird when I'm around them. I don't want to jeopardise any of her friendships but I hate him interfering as much as he does.

I don't know what this guys deal is. He clearly doesn't give a shit about her because if he did then he wouldn't want to have her crying all the time. Right ? So I am just wondering if you guys have any idea how to handle this situation without my girlfriend loosing her friends and me not punching him in the face?

View related questions: broke up, her ex, jealous, on holiday

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A male reader, Code Warrior United States + , writes (9 August 2018):

Code Warrior agony auntI admire your restraint. Don't take my advice. I would've been in a fist fight with that little fucker in short order and probably would've blown it. However, I wouldn't have cared how it impacted her friends. I wouldn't tolerate being disrespected like that. I would've been in his face the moment he tried to put his arm around her - son of a bitch must pay. I wouldn't worry about jail. Fist fights rarely end up there for longer than bail. Prosecutors don't have time to prosecute such minor things. They will plea it down, make you pay a fine and the little fucker might take you to small claims court, but he isn't going to get much for a black eye and a busted lip.

Like I said, my advice is bad.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (9 August 2018):

Honeypie agony auntI have to agree, it's NOT up to you.

Your GF might share friends with her ex, but go on holiday with him when he is being such a twat and abusive? that is RIDICULOUS! IDGAF if other friends went, she should have known he would be an ass and she SHOULD have made other plans, either JUST with you or with a few friends the EX NOT included.

He knows he is getting a raise out of you and out of her and he is ENJOYING it. He is a petty little dick that doesn't want to see her happy.

I would give you this advice, tell her to stick to hanging out with one or two friends at a time WHERE she KNOWS he isn't invited, like a girl's night out or things like that.

She can't make HIM stay away from larger group event, but she CAN choose to not go. At least for a while. If she needs a large group of friends, maybe it's time to rebuild a new circle with you. Yes, it sucks that HE "gets" the friends but HOW good friends are they if they just sit by and watch him be abusive towards her?

Also, this is teenage behavior. If you are all in your 30's it's time to freaking grow up!

SHE is in charge of what happens next. Either she CUTS him out or she will continue to be bullied by this ass.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (8 August 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntHow do you handle this situation? With dignity and by not stooping to HIS level. He obviously has an agenda. It may be an attempt to get his ex back, it may be trying to look big in front of his mates, it may be sheer devilment, it may be any number of things. DON'T let him win by losing our rag and decking the idiot, tempting as it is.

The only person who can control this is your girlfriend. Whilst she has not encouraged him and has, in fact, tried to push him away, just the fact that she still hangs out with him in their group of friends is enough to make this situation uncomfortable for you both.

Are there people in the group with whom your girlfriend can discuss this situation for ideas on how to get round it? Friends she is particularly close to? If this is a group who were friends with HIM before HER, then they will naturally side with him out of a sense of loyalty, regardless of how bad his behaviour is.

Worst case scenario, your girlfriend will have to bite the bullet, be honest with her friends and tell them she is not coming to any get-togethers where her ex will be present as it is not fair on her or you. True friends will stay close to her. Worst case scenario, she may need to make new friends to get away from this idiot.

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A male reader, Billy Bathgate United States + , writes (8 August 2018):

The ex doesn’t want her but doesn’t want her to be with anyone else. It sounds like the friend group is closer to him than her. It is time to start hanging out with different people. If she can’t or won’t do that then it is time for you to move on.

And if you punch the ex all you’ll get is time in jail.

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A female reader, janniepeg Canada + , writes (8 August 2018):

janniepeg agony auntShe is not all weak and needing protection. She has a choice to cut off friendships and build new ones with you. If her ex gets you to punch him, he wins while you make an embarrassment out of yourself.

She blocked him on social media, then agreed to go on holiday knowing him would be there. She can't force him to accept that she is in a new relationship. The wiser thing is to just avoid him and never come in contact with him again. Her friends will always bring back memories of her ex because they are one unit. She has to decide it's either you, or friends and ex. You can't make her choose but your feelings towards her would change if she can't build a new life for you and her. Otherwise she would be sabotaging any new relationships.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 August 2018):

I'm sorry but as I see it your girlfriend need a to find a new group of friends or see them individually and not as a group thing if this ex is going to be around.

Four years is a long time and he knows how to push her buttons it seems and I am sensing also unfinished business on both sides, or at vest just on his.

The only way to move forward is to not have the contact and to focus on your relationship without his input, even if just for a year until it dies down.

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