How to Handle Your Boyfriend’s Friendship with His Ex
When is it okay for your ex to be pals with his old girlfriend?
Relationships are complicated, and just because the romantic part ends doesn't always mean the friendship is over. That said, it's not easy for some women to handle it when their new boyfriend's best friend turns out to be an ex-girlfriend or an ex-wife.
If you find yourself dating someone who still has his ex's number stored in his phone – and he uses it – here's what to do to determine if it's a big deal or something to ignore.
Ask him about it
Even though it's a tough conversation to have, it's important to ask your new guy about his friendship with his ex.
If your boyfriend is good friends with his ex and you need monogamy in your relationship, you should ask him two questions, according to Wendy Newman, author of 121 First Dates.
- "Is the romantic part of your relationship over?"
- "Do either of you want to get back together?"
When he responds, listen to what he says. If he says yes to the first question, and no to the second, then listen to understand what he values in the friendship and the benefit he finds with having her in his life, Newman said.
"That might be all you need to chill out any instinct to claw the ex’s eyes out. Ultimately, people are free human beings to be friends with whomever they want so not only would I hope you accept it, but trust and respect your boyfriend enough to have autonomy and a life of his own," she said.
Take it as a positive sign
Newman pointed out that if your boyfriend can keep relationships after they end, that just might show you a level of caring and maturity worth holding onto. And by having his back on this, you’ll gain his respect and love for you, versus being treated as a jealous girlfriend.
It shows that your guy has a caring heart if he can remain friends with an ex. This is a woman he once loved, and chose to separate from, but he can keep his heart open enough to value a friendship with her. This shows that he has a healthy attitude toward relationships.
Set a few guidelines
That said, you're not alone if you have trouble accepting a friendship between your boyfriend and his ex. Phillip Petree, author of The Man Puzzle, interviewed more than 1,000 men and nearly 1,000 women to find out how they feel about relationships. On the questions, "Do you believe your date/mate should maintain an active friendship with members of the opposite sex who are ex-lovers" there was a mixed response.
Among the women who responded, 69% said it was okay as long as they trusted their boyfriend, another 19% said no, not ever, and 7% said they'd consider it on a case-by-case basis.
The men weren't quite so generous in their responses. Only 54% said they'd be okay with their partner maintaining such a relationship, 36% said no way, and 9% said it would be an option on a case-by-case basis.
Some of the guidelines the respondents stipulated that they needed to have in order to accept such a relationship included hanging out at appropriate hours and public places, being told when they were meeting, and not having a private dinner at the ex's home, because that would feel too much like a date.
In a nutshell, it is possible for ex's to remain friends, but it's important for your partner to maintain those friendships in such a way that protects your feelings and respects your own relationship.