Q: My boyfriend of five years and I broke up about a year and a half ago. We have both since moved on and are in serious relationships with new people. I miss my ex very much as we lived together for many years and were not just boyfriend and girlfriend, but also just really great friends. We shared so much together and even though we ended up splitting up (he ended it because of commitment issues), I wish to maintain some sort of friendship with him.
The problem is, he is dating a girl who is many, many years younger than he is, and who has serious jealousy and insecurity issues. According to my ex, she has forbidden him to see me, even in social situations where many of our mutual friends are around, and even with our new partners. He emails and texts me occasionally about non-important things, my guess is just to maintain some sort of contact with me and because his new girlfriend won't know about this kind of communication. I've stopped writing back because I've really lost respect for him. My question is, is it worth trying to maintain a friendship with an ex who lets his new partner's insecurities interfere with his life -- or do I confront him and tell him I'm not interested in a friendship unless it's a real one?
– Cut Off, Boston
A: I'd tell him that you're just not comfortable being part of a lie.
I mean, what if his new girlfriend found these innocent texts? Would she feel betrayed? Would she tell your ex that he's been cheating? Your ex should understand that you can't contribute to that kind of dishonesty.
Before you lose all respect for him, know that friendships with exes are often this tricky. Even if they start out great, they don't always last. My guess is that this young woman is freaking out about you because she sees the writing on the wall -- writing that tells her that she's going to be his next ex-girlfriend. Maybe he mutters your name in his sleep. Who knows?
You can't tell him what's best for him or what he should do in this new relationship. All you can tell him is that you can't be part of a lie, which is why you're not writing back to these texts. Let him work out the rest of it on his own. Give him space to figure out whether he wants to be with someone whose rules force him to be dishonest.
Readers? Is this new girlfriend in the wrong for not wanting a serious ex around? Is the boyfriend in the wrong for accepting the rules? Am I right to say that the texts are a problem because he's probably lying about them to his new girlfriend? Should the letter writer demand a "real" friendship? Can we stay friends with exes like this? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.