My ex recently told his niece (who happens to be a close friend of mine and my roommate) that he still loves me and wants to see me, but he also claims to love his new girlfriend. I want him to be happy even if that isn’t with me, but I’m confused by his actions. His niece told me last week that, when they were spending time together alone, he talked about me for an hour, crying, and saying how much he missed me, loves me, and that I’m the best girlfriend he has ever had. She also told me about the several times that she’s been around him with his new girlfriend and that he treats her terribly and is very cold and distant, which is very unlike him.
I wouldn’t worry about it and would just try and keep my distance except that my friend (his niece) is pregnant, currently lives with me, and wants both my ex and me to be very active in the baby’s life. He says that he wants to meet up and spend time together. As much as I would love that, I don’t feel that it’s right to disrespect his current girlfriend by doing so even if it is innocent. It’s just so hard because I still love him and I’m confused about his feelings for me and, for that matter, his motives for being with her. If he loves her, why does he treat her so terribly?
Another thing that I find odd is that he makes his relationship with her seem perfect on Facebook, yet several of our mutual friends have told me that it’s far from that. When we were together, it was obvious that we were in a relationship, but neither of us ever bragged about it or felt the need to be super cheesy in such a public way. It just doesn’t make sense to me. What is he trying to do? Is he really happy with her? Lastly and most importantly, how do I move forward? I know eventually we will have to be in the same room together and possibly around her as well. How do I not let my feelings get the best of me while being a good friend/godmother to my friend’s baby? I could really use some advice. — Missing My Ex
You have so many questions and the only person who can answer them for you is your ex. And I don’t think you can truly move forward until you have a stronger sense of closure with him and feel like some of your questions have been addressed. I say meet with him. Think of it as an “exit interview.” Ask the questions you need to ask and see how he replies. When the conversation is over, you’ll have a better idea where you stand with him, what he wants, and how the two of you can co-exist peacefully in his niece’s/your friend and roommate’s life (as well as her baby’s). Meeting with him once to seek clarity about your post-relationship status is not disrespectful to his girlfriend, especially when you still share mutual connections. The key is to keep the conversation on the two of you and to avoid questions about his relationship with his new girlfriend. (It’s ok to ask general questions about his emotional availability if your conversations lead you to believe a chance of reconciliation is possible, but steer clear of pointedly asking about his feelings for her and vice versa as that isn’t your business).
Beyond that, have you thought seriously about what it means to live with someone who has a new baby? Do you know what you’re in store for? Have you talked about how a baby in your home will affect your life and what your expected responsibilities are? Is there a plan for either of you to move out before or immediately after the baby’s birth? It seems like living with your ex’s niece, whom he remains very close to and confides in, isn’t helping you to move on. Moving out (or her moving out) would alleviate at least some of the anxiety you might have in terms of seeing and sharing space with your ex (especially if he remains an ex). You could and should also tell your friend to not talk to you about your ex anymore. And let her know that, as much as you love her and want to support her, you need some emotional, psychic and spacial distance from your ex in order to move on. That means not hearing about him and his new relationship. That means not hearing about how he talks about you in the aftermath of your split. That means avoiding being in his company as much as possible (at least for now). That means hiding his Facebook profile (or de-friending him) and asking friends to not discuss him with you anymore.
Moving on doesn’t have to be as hard as you’ve let it be. It requires boundaries. Closure certainly helps. So, get the closure, and then set the boundaries. And put yourself first. Healing your heart is a bigger priority than being a good Godmother to a baby who isn’t even here yet.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.