The other woman

Joey Garcia

Am I asking too much of my boyfriend to not be friends with an ex-girlfriend? He had sex with her before breaking up with me a few years ago. We have been together this time for two years. I really need a fresh perspective on my relationship. Please help!

Every couple has the right to decide how to shape their relationship so they feel connected, accepted and loved. So, no, you’re not asking too much of your man.

Although, let’s get real: Making a request is one thing, but setting a boundary is entirely different. Which approach are you taking? A request means you’re asking nicely for something you would like to have happen, but it’s not mandatory and there are no consequences attached. A boundary sets limits and includes consequences if those limits are violated. Certain boundaries allow a couple to grow into deeper intimacy or, once crossed, to accept that a relationship is untenable. If you ask your man to stop seeing this woman and he ignores your request, it’s annoying. It’s also an opportunity to confront the stories your mind has devised about their current relationship. You may think she still wants him. (You could be right, or wrong.) You might be afraid of losing him again, so dismissing potential competitors feels sensible. Maybe he clings to his ex because he bristles at giving himself to one woman. (Yes, that would be you.) Or they’re nothing more than pals.

Is there enough honesty in your relationship with your boyfriend to know what’s really up? Or do you find yourself struggling to put puzzling pieces of conversations and behaviors together? Without honesty, your relationship will stall and then burn out.

Start by being honest with yourself. Decide whether your man’s relationship with his ex is a deal breaker for you, or not. All adults arrive in new relationships with heartstrings and libidos still attached to former partners. If we’re self-aware, we see the subtle neediness in the way we interact with our exes and the habits we use to attract their attention or approval. To value a new relationship, we must break it off with a former lover directly by explaining that the past is interfering too much with the present.

Your man and his ex share a complicated past. They hooked up, right? He cheated on you with her. You’re having difficulty trusting him. He doesn’t see a problem. Either he’s in denial, or the two of you have radically different levels of self-awareness. Without a self-aware partner, you can argue about the need for boundaries and never be understood. An individual who is not self-aware only knows he feels good when his ex pops up in his life and feels bad when he hears you complaining about her. That internal split paves the way for a breakup. If your boyfriend’s relationship with his ex is a deal breaker for you, tell him. Then treat your word as gold: initiate a break up. The resulting painful feelings are temporary. The shift it creates in your sense of self-respect is permanent.

Meditation of the week
“It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place. It’s when we start spilling our sweat and not our blood,” said philosopher David Hume. Did you show up for your global community this week?

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