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He's friends with an ex

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  April 24, 2013 08:51 AM

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Q: Dear Meredith,

I have been dating "Matt" for a little over a year now. A few months after we met online, he asked me to move in with him. I didn't say no, but I waited a few more months to be ready because I felt we needed to get to know each other better. We are in our 40s. We enjoy doing many things together and have similar life goals. We are planning for a future together. He is very good to me and I love him dearly.

The relationship has been great save for a few jealous occasions. He has trust issues because of his past relationships. He gets suspicious when I go out with my friends and needs to know who is going.

He has had an ex lingering around for years. They met young and dated for about a decade. He said they never got married because she couldn't take the relationship to the next level and didn't enjoy doing many of the things he likes to do. They have stayed in touch through the years. I know they still communicate because when I asked him to stop, he said he couldn't. All I asked was that he tells me if he talks to her or sees her. He said he would but he hasn't.

I accepted the fact that he will always communicate with her because they have known each other for a long time. I also know that they rekindled their romantic relationship a few years ago to try to see whether they could have a future together. It didn't work out.

Friendship is important, especially the lifelong friendships. That 30-plus year connection is something they will always have. I don't want to take that away from him.

But now that he and I are together, I want to be the one he comes to when he needs something. I want to be the one he comes to when he is sad and needs a shoulder to cry on.

I want to have an honest relationship with this man. Is it OK for him to keep the communications with his ex a secret?

– Lost in Love, Boston


A: We don't have to tell our partners everything, LIL. Sometimes over-disclosure can imply that there's a problem when there isn't. If he's not interested in this woman and just enjoys catching up with her on occasion, he probably doesn't need to make a big confession about it. Old friends are OK. Not all exes are threats.

What's not OK is the double standard. Do you really have to tell him everything? Has he eased up on the jealousy over time? Because that will get old.

And ... how often is he talking to this woman? I can understand the occasional phone call, but is this ongoing? If she’s a close friend -- someone who's a big part of his life -- he's going to have to do a better job of bringing her into your shared world. If you're living together, you have to have a good sense of each other's communities. That's only fair.

But let's get to the last part of your letter, where you tell us that you want to be his support system. Forget about this woman for a second and ask yourself, "Are we getting closer? Does he confide in me? How is our friendship?" Those are the important questions. If you feel like things with Matt are getting better -- and more fun -- with time, none of the other stuff matters so much. If you're feeling alone in this relationship, it probably has nothing to do with this woman. It's about him. And you.

Focus on what's happening between the two of you. It's been a year now. It's time to ask yourself whether you're really happy and can relax in this relationship.

Readers? Should she be worried about this woman? What about the speed of this relationship? Do you get the sense that they're happy? At a year, how should the letter writer feel about things? Discuss.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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