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My boyfriend still speaks to his ex

Tagged as: Dating, The ex-factor<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (9 July 2022) 8 Answers - (Newest, 14 July 2022)
A female United Kingdom age 26-29, anonymous writes:

Background context; my boyfriend has told me he still occasionally speaks to his ex girlfriend via social media. They broke up nearly 3 years ago, mostly due to the distance (she’s Canadian, he lives in the UK). Although it was quite a volatile relationship he said it was also a very intense one but they did end on good terms.

We’ve been together nearly a year and we’ve argued about his ex before. Although he’s assured me their chat is innocent and very infrequent, he isn’t willing to cut her out completely.

The other morning, he was in the shower and he left his phone unlocked. In a rash (and regrettable move) I looked at some of his messages with her. Despite not finding anything incriminating or inappropriate, they speak a lot more than he initially admitted to me, at least a few times a week. It’s just general chat about their lives and what’s going on, but I still find it unnecessary. I don’t speak to most of my friends to the extent that they speak. I can’t understand why he still wants this contact with her unless he’s holding onto something. She does seem to instigate the conversation a lot more and I have found a few of her comments a bit patronising towards me and my relationship with him.

I’m now unsure what to do because if I broach the subject, he’ll know I went through his messages which admittedly was a poor decision on my behalf, but I don’t know if I’m able to continue with things as normal when I know how often he still speaks to her.

Am I over reacting and is this something I can move past or do I need to bring it up?

View related questions: broke up, ex girlfriend, his ex

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A reader, anonymous, writes (14 July 2022):

When reading posts like this, it always reminds me why I don't tolerate interaction with exes. I don't have any reason to contact people I had to part with under unfavorable-circumstances. Out of sight, out of mind!

It's a small world, and we're bound to cross paths with our exes; be that the case, I'll behave like a sensible adult. I'm polite, and we make short (but civil) exchanges. I don't practice holding grudges. I won't pretend not to see them, or ignore anyone. That's un-Christian. I've taught myself to forgive and forget...then move on. I see no reason to hold some big conversation or make promises to have lunch. I'll step-off, and resume my life...without any further reason for contact with them! No animus, no drama, no nonsense. Peace prevails!

You have a right not to want him regularly conversing with a woman you suspect that he has regret that he had to breakup with her. Particularly, when their contact continues in secret, despite your concerns and objections.

Then I would suggest that you step-back; to review and assess the situation as a whole. Why hold-on to a guy who refuses to discontinue contact with his ex, when you've repeatedly asked him to stop? He lied about how regular they're in contact. Why? It's up to you to decide how often is too often for you; but if you're going to keep him anyway, shut-up and put-up!

Is he even worth the drama, or the repeated demands you've made that he cease contact and communications with an ex he may still have feelings for??? One whom you suspect still has feelings for him! Then where do you fit in this arrangement? You've even had arguments about it!

It hardly makes sense to maintain contact with somebody I know my partner feels especially uncomfortable with; considering that person was somebody I "boinked" in the past. It leaves too much room for opportunity and missteps. Who's on his side when you two disagree? How much about you does he share with her? The communications you've read may be edited, or said in code; incase you do snoop his phone. Girlfriend, he knew you'd snoop his phone from the day he met you. You're not his first girlfriend, and phone-snooping IS a thing! What you've read will throw you off-track; but it wont soothe your suspicions or mistrust!

It scorches my cookies, when guys pretend they don't understand what all the fuss is about? As a man myself, I will tell you. He wants his cake, and to eat it too! He can't let-go. She will attempt to be his confidante and support; while tilting the balance. He will mindfully, or inadvertently, share private details about your relationship. Sometimes true, sometimes embellished, and even false. That's human nature.

Now do you see why I won't have any of it? Not because of any sense of insecurity or mistrust; but that's how much I loathe drama!!!

Rather than continue to struggle with him in competition with somebody that he used to know; decide if he's even worth it.

I share these words of wisdom. Don't let your feminine-ego and pride be the motive behind keeping a man; because you just don't want to lose him to some other woman. You should have no-one you perceive, or know, to be your competition as a viable wedge in the middle of your relationship. Someone must go! It's either her, or you!

If you think you can subsist on this drama; just bear one fact in-mind. He's a grown-man, and you can't tell him what to do. You can't pick his friends, and he can't pick yours; but your option to leave is always open.

You've snooped, and now you know. The ball is in your court, girlfriend! Your paranoia and suspicions are going to manifest in some form of resentful or jealous-behavior, that is going to inevitably end-it anyway. Let's see how long you can sit and stew in it?

My words are not meant to instigate, or stir the pot. Just to make you think more reasonably; and hopefully, more rationally. Never fight over a man, or stoop beneath your dignity to keep one.

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A male reader, kenny United Kingdom + , writes (13 July 2022):

kenny agony auntIn my opinion there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for him to still be in contact with his ex, especially as it was volatile, and it was three years ago.

Exe's are ex's for a reason, and unless he has things of a financial nature to sort out, or shared custody of children there is no reason to be in contact with her.

Now you know that he has lied to you regarding the amount of time they communicate, so now there is a trust issue. If there is no trust in a relationship its will be sure to break down and fail over time.

The choice is yours, I think you should tell him you know about how much he talks to her and that your not ok with it.

Then you have to decide if you want to continue this relationship with him.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (12 July 2022):

I totally agree with Honeypie and WiseOwle.

You can't tell your boyfriend who he can be friends with and you can't tell him who he can talk to.

BUT you can decide whether you want to stay with someone who keeps in touch with his ex/exes or not. You can decide whether or not this is a deal breaker for you.

The fact that he lied about the frequency of their communication shows that he's not honest. At least about the level of contact that he has with her.

AND when she talks badly about you, has her little digs about you and his relationship with you, he doesn't seem to let it put him off talking to her.

I think that if you were the absolute love of his life, then I don't think he would tolerate an ex-girlfriend speaking in this way. I think he has an interest in keeping her around. If he was really only seldom in contact with her, then I don't think it would matter, but every week? And lying about it? I don't see how this can be ignored.

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A female reader, Anonymous 123 Italy +, writes (11 July 2022):

Anonymous 123 agony auntAsk yourself the following questions and there are just two options as answers. Yes or No. There is no maybe.

Do you trust him?

Is this the man who you see yourself getting married to in the future?

Is talking to his ex an absolute deal breaker for you?

If you answer "no" to even 2 out of these 3 questions, then this relationship isn't for you. Simple.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 July 2022):

I could never be with a person who has an issue with my choice of friends.

Do you know WHY yoru bf minimized teh quantity of his communication with her? Because YOU are making such a big deal out of it. It's the quality that matters. They have remained friends. Can you accept that or not? If you can't, well then just move on, don't try to change him. He's obviously doing NOTHING wrong.

My husband hasn't stayed friends with all of his exes (he was with a lot of women). But he has stayed friends with his HS gf (they are family friends). I too have stayed friends with my HS boyfriend. We were together for 7 years. We broke up because we were too different. Honestly, I know I can count on him and that he can count on me. I wouldn't give him my kidney, but I would certanly give him a part of my liver (it grows back :)) or my bone marrow ;) Do I want to be with him? NO.

I cannot get over the fact that you went through his phone. People who allow themselves to do this will go much further than that when it comes to spying on their "loved ones".

You can either decide to be your best self and forget that you have ever done this and move on or you can call him out on his perfectly normal behavior and show him what you are capable of.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (10 July 2022):

Typo correction:

"[Not] so much with ex-wives; if they are bound by sharing children, a business, or property."

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A reader, anonymous, writes (10 July 2022):

Back when I was dating, I had a rule, a specific dealbreaker before I'd commit to a monogamous relationship. We had to have an understanding.

I do not tolerate interference from exes, and I don't communicate in any way, shape, or form with anybody that I used to date. I have no right to tell anybody who they can and cannot communicate with; so if they have people they used to date, and need to keep them in their lives, I'd just move-on. I won't bicker, drive myself insane, or force my insecurities upon other people. I have a choice of whom I want to be with, and what I will accept in a relationship. That understanding is made before we commit to each-other. I don't allow people to benefit from my loyalty and faithfulness, while their options are open. I don't reel someone in, commit myself to them; then start telling them who their friends can or can't be, and whatnot. I make it my business to know their family, friends, and whomever else will be a part of "our" lives. My partner will know all my contacts and family connections. If there is any objection, I will honor my partner's wishes. We will compromise; or I will walkaway rather than stay and fight about things. I hate drama.

You don't have a right to insist he doesn't speak to his ex; you do have the option to end the relationship, if he feels the ex is so important that he won't let her go. That's a choice he has to make. You can't force him to.

This "ex" situation is always going to be a bone of contention in your relationship; and it's mostly based on your insecurities and possessiveness. You knew about her before you committed to be his girlfriend. If you accepted her then; it's too late to want her gone now. At any moment you've had enough, you can call-it quits.

Boyfriends are disposable and replaceable. He is only a teardrop in an ocean of men; and you can find the one who checks-off all your criteria boxes, if you're patient enough to keep searching. You are in no position to tell him what to do, and he has no right to tell you what to do. That's not a relationship, that's a power-struggle.

He's not your husband. If you were his wife, you'd have every right to demand communications with ex-girlfriends cease. No so much with ex-wives; if they are bound by sharing children, a business, or property.

You really don't have to put-up with it. It's your choice to pull-out of the relationship; and find someone with no ties to his exes. Which is what I've always done.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (10 July 2022):

Honeypie agony auntHere is the thing, OP

You wouldn't keep talking to exes because YOU feel that is inappropriate in a new relationship. HE isn't you. He obviously doesn't feel the same way about this.

So, what does that mean?

It means that on ONE level you two do not agree.

So, what can you do?

Well, you CAN decide - DO I want to date a guy who keeps in contact with an ex with whom he "supposedly" had a quite a "volatile relationship".

Or is this a deal-breaker for me?

I don't think it's YOUR job to demand/choose WHO he can talk to and who he can't. BUT you can decide NOT to date someone who keeps exes around, especially toxic ones.

Are you overreacting?

Yes, and no.

I occasionally talk to an ex from 30 years ago. My husband occasionally talk to his ex-wife, and his HS sweetheart and I have no issues with it, AS long as there is respect involved. Some people are QUITE capable of being platonic friends AFTER having dated. Some can not.

Your Bf doesn't (from what you read) shut her down when she talks badly about you. What does that tell you? And...

He knows you don't like it, so he CHOSE to lie to you about how often they talk. He didn't CHOOSE to stop talking to her or talk to her less. No, he just hid it and lied...

YOU have to decide, IS this a deal-breaker or not? Go from there. Think about it.

Maybe ASK him how HE would feel if you kept in touch with exes.

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