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My ex got in the way

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  January 29, 2014 08:46 AM

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Q: My fiance and I have been together for more than a year. We are the perfect team, have really developed our communication, and have even resolved our arguments about the dirty counters.

Before this, I had been with someone on and very off for about eight years. He was of another culture, would tell me how much he wanted to be with me, and then three weeks later he would disappear. I would get mad and send him an angry email and we wouldn't talk for six months. The last time it happened I had actually converted to his religion, and he stilllllll couldn't stick around. I decided I was done and started online dating.

A week into dating I met up with my future fiance. It turned out he was born in the same place as my ex, and they had a lot in common (including some mutual friends).

I KNOW that I started dating too soon. While I was no longer seeking a relationship with the ex, I still had unresolved feelings of anger, so much so that I would avoid stores he might go to, would do double takes if someone looked like him, etc. At first, my fiancé was understanding and we could talk about it. But after a few months he would become very angry and would bring him up, research him, and want to go over every detail of my past with this guy until he was satisfied. Not fun.

To make matters worse, the ex would keep contacting me, even after conversations where I told him I was with someone else, very happy, and going to get married. He always said he understood and apologized.

A few weeks ago he contacted me again and I decided that I would try to find out why he wasn't moving on despite me trying to tell him to go away. This hurt my partner so much that he has moved out and is seeing a therapist.

I have had a lot of time to reflect on my role. I have had almost a whole month on my own with some therapy books and I am in a place of neutrality with this guy. I told my mom everything (I hadn't told my family about the relationship, because after a while they hated hearing the stories of how he screwed up "this time"), and I had a lengthy discussion with the ex about needing him to respect my space and to move on. I guess I'm trying to say that I feel like I have made peace with the death of that relationship, and really just want to focus on my relationship and my future marriage to my current partner.

The problem is that my fiance doesn't think that someone could process everything that quickly. He is afraid that somehow the ex will pop back up again, and I will get defensive and it will still feel like there is a third person in the relationship.

How do you know if you are over an ex, and what else should you do if people say you aren't?

– Confused in Canada


A: Sometimes we confuse feelings of disappointment with love. It's very possible that you've been over this guy for a while but that you're still looking for answers about what happened.

Regardless, it sounds you're getting married too soon. You say that you and the fiance are the perfect team, but you're still getting to know each other. Maybe if you just live as a couple -- without the pressure of marriage -- you'll be able to figure out how you really feel.

I don't understand your fiance's expectations for this break. Were you supposed to grieve for a certain amount of time? How many months did he expect to be away? It's time to ask him how he thought this would work and suggest that you try being together without pressure. You can't start over, but you can just enjoy each other's company without thinking about counter tops and the rest of your lives. That should help.

Readers? Any hope for the LW and the fiance? What about the ex? What about this short break and the grieving time? Help.

– 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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