There’s nothing quite like an ex-wife or girlfriend hiding in the background to potentially cast a shadow of doubt over a promising new relationship.
Most people have a few proverbial love skeletons in the closet, but there must come a time when your partner needs to firmly relegate their ex to the emotional hierarchy.
As Manj Weerasekera, The Fresh Start Guy, who coaches divorced men, explains, “Men can be complicated sometimes and you won’t always realize the signs that your boyfriend may still be thinking deeply about his ex-partner.
“So how can you usually tell the difference between a new boyfriend who is getting along well with his ex and one who is still influenced by her?”
Manj suggests some of the pointers that can help you see if you’re not the only woman on his mind. Take note.
Men can be complicated at times and you won’t always become aware of the signs that your boyfriend may still be thinking deeply about his ex-partner, here’s how to spot the signs
He talks about her all the time. Simply put, people talk about what they think. If you find that your boyfriend tells you all about his ex, why they broke up, and what went wrong, you can be sure that he is far from above her.
He always does her a favor. Does your boyfriend constantly do little chores for his ex? If there’s no reason they can’t be on good terms, there’s no reason your boyfriend should be his ex’s right-hand man, either.
It is his “platonic” appointment at events. Is your boyfriend the candy on someone else’s arm at a wedding, business dinner, or other event? This is a major warning sign that he might one day choose her over you.
He is still part of his family. When your boyfriend spends Sunday dinners at his ex’s family house, there’s a big problem. He will never be able to fully invest in your relationship if he still feels like part of his family.
Simply put, people talk about what they think. If you find that your boyfriend tells you all about his ex, why they broke up, and what went wrong, you can be sure that he is far from above her.
He’s watching her online. While it’s never polite to snoop around, sometimes you can’t help but notice if your boyfriend has been talking to his ex online, whether it’s in browser history or in social media conversations. Even if they never see each other in person, it’s still a strong indicator that he’s far from above her.
He did not return his things to her. The first thing most of us do after a breakup is to clean our house of all of our ex’s reminders – unless we haven’t ended the relationship yet. If there are any photos, clothes or memorabilia in his house, you can be sure that he is clinging to his memory.
Her ex is now her new BFF. If he tells you that his ex is now his best friend, I recommend that you treat him with caution. It may just be impossible for her to get her out of his life, so he finds another “role” for her that she may not even be aware of!
Comparative thinking. Do you ever feel like you’re being compared to your ex? If so, are you in second place? Whether he uses her as a tool to get revenge on you or not, it shows that she is still hiding somewhere in his mind.
As Manj explains, respect your partner by not involving your ex in your relationship in a negative or potentially destructive way.
Old haunts. Does he take you to places that he and his ex used to go to? Whether it’s to remember the good old days or to want to see her again, that might not be a healthy sign.
You sense that something is wrong. Whether it’s a distracted look in his eyes, a flippant comment, or whatever, there are times when you know in your heart that your new boyfriend hasn’t completely finished his last relationship yet. If so, listen to your intuition and talk to it in a non-confrontational way.
HOW TO COPE
Talk to him and ask him to explain what is happening to him. Create a “safe to say” and caring environment. Make sure you understand his situation. Don’t get angry or get excited; pay attention, let him finish his sentences, and listen carefully. Ask constructive questions, and most importantly, make sure he or she feels understood.
Explain your side of things and explain how you feel. Speak clearly and be open.
Suggest and agree on acceptable parameters of interaction between him and his ex. This can include zero contact.
Remember that lasting relationships are built on respect and understanding as well as love and connection. Respect your partner by not involving your ex in your relationship in a negative or potentially destructive way – and just as importantly, respect yourself by not supporting someone who does.