Morning Quickies: “Am I Going to Lose Him to His Ex?”

I am a young professional woman in my late 20s and I started dating my boyfriend, “Mike,” about a year ago. We get along splendidly and are very much in love! I can see him being my future something or other and we’ve talked about moving in together next year.

The reason I’m writing you for advice is because, prior to our relationship, he was in a five-year-long relationship. He and his ex met in college and were very serious. When we first started dating, he teared up every time he mentioned the relationship and refused to give details. From what Mike has told me, they broke up because she got into graduate school on the other side of the country. Two of their five years of dating had already been long-distance and she finally called it quits when it was clear they were not going to be in the same city for the near future.

Fast forward to now: His ex-girlfriend is graduating from school in less than a year and they still exchange texts back and forth. From my social media detective work, she is not dating anyone. I’m worried that, once she finishes school, she’ll realize how much she misses him and try to woo him back!

Am I crazy to be concerned? — Worried about His Ex

Wait, you and Mike are very much in love, you are talking about moving in together next year, you can imagine him being your future husband (or “something or other”) and, yet, you’re afraid of losing him to his ex? Do you have any other reasons to fear losing him to her other than they exchange texts and she might be moving back in a year when she finishes school? Does Mike still refuse to give details about their relationship? Does he still tear up when he talks about her? These are the issues you need to discuss with him. You need to tell him that his lack of transparency about their relationship combined with his continued correspondence with her has left you feeling insecure and worried, and until you no longer feel threatened by their relationship (past, present, and future), all talks about your moving in together need to be put on hold.

To answer your question specifically, I don’t necessarily think you’re “crazy” for feeling concerned. But I do think you’re crazy to be planning — or even fantasizing about — a future with someone whose commitment to you is causing you so much anxiety.

P.S. 15 Things Couples Should Do Before Moving in Together

My ex broke up with me about a week ago; we were together for 1.7 years. We were long-distance (three hours apart), but we handled long-distance very well. Before he broke up with me, he made plans for my birthday, when he was going to visit me again, and he knew I had bought a ticket to visit him. Before he broke up with me last Sunday, he was really happy to see me and give me a kiss and all that. He then took me to dinner and treated me so well. When we came back home, he suddenly said things weren’t working out anymore, that he didn’t know what he wanted, and that I was too dependent on him for happiness.

I asked him for a break instead of a break-up, but he said that he had already given me a lot of second chances. He said that he had lost interest in us because I wasn’t changing and I was still dependent on him. He said that he still loved me and he still cared for me and he didn’t like seeing me cry and so hurt. He stayed around for two hours, talking to me while I was begging him to take me back and trying to reason with him. After he left and went back to his hometown, he messaged me and said that he would keep my stuff that I gave him and would think of me.

The next day, I snapchatted him (we had a streak of 620) and it meant a lot to me. He asked me on snapchat if I still wanted to keep our streak. I said yes and told him that if he was willing to communicate, I would be too. Then he suddenly became frustrated and said that he was done communicating and it was time to move on. After a few hours he said that he wanted to be friends, but he needed a little more time. Two days later he messaged me that he felt that we should talk. We both agreed that we valued our friendship. He said that he had wants no contact before that because he still needs some time. However, he said that he wants to keep snapchat with me. I agreed.

The next day I snapped him, he snapped me, then I snapped him again and he didn’t respond. Then I didn’t snap him at all until he snapped me. That was when I found out about the no contact rule. I realized that he needed to get a taste of life without me. I thought that he was keeping me on snapchat not because of the streak but because he still wanted that connection with me even though he said “no contact.” I ended the streak.

I heard from friends that he actually kept my stuff. He even kept the mug that said I loved him, and he uses it. That was what I found interesting. Also, I started going back to the gym (something he wanted me to get back to a while ago), and I started trying out yoga. I posted on my snapchat story that I was doing this and he saw my snap story. Now, I’m just building myself back up, but I don’t know if he will contact me or not. I don’t know if, after thirty days, I should reach out to him and tell him the changes I made in life. He also kept our pictures up on Instagram until two days ago, when he deleted all his pictures, and I don’t know what he means because he didn’t just delete our pictures (we had two), he deleted all fifteen? And he still uses the “I love you” cup.

Now, since I broke our snapchat “conversation,” he still views my stories. Sometimes he views it right away when he’s on and some time he ignores it then but views it later. Is he doubting his decision?

Please tell me what you all think. — Desperate to Have Him Back

I think I suddenly feel a million years old. I also think you need to move on already. Thirty days of your trying yoga and going to the gym isn’t going to mean shit to your ex-boyfriend. He’s over it. He was already over it before you literally begged him to stay with you, to take you back. Come on, that’s not attractive. No one’s turned on by desperation. Get some dignity! You’ll feel better about yourself. Block him on social media and move on. Focus on being your own happiness. Foster friendships and pursue interests for yourself (not because you think it’ll make your ex want you back). When you are an interesting, independent, fun person, people will naturally be attracted to you. You won’t have to beg people to give you attention. And you won’t want to because that isn’t dignified. Be dignified. Walk away from this relationship.

P.S. That “I love you” coffee mug is just a coffee mug. His drinking out of it is not some sign that you’re meant for each other. It’s probably just clean and easy to reach when he wants coffee.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​


  1. Oh I am glad I’m not the only one that felt old. I have no idea what the whole snapchat streak is about. I thought snapchat was just to take pics with fun filters to send to my friends via regular text.

  2. “I heard from friends that he actually kept my stuff. He even kept the mug that said I loved him and uses it. That was what I found interesting. Also, I started going back to the gym (something he wanted me to get back to a while ago) and I started trying out yoga. I posted on my snapchat story that I was doing this and he saw my snap story. Now, I’m just building myself back up, but I don’t know if he will contact me or not. I don’t know if after 30 days, if I should reach out to him and tell him the changes I made in life. He also kept our pictures up on Instagram until two days ago, when he deleted all his pictures and I don’t know what he means because he didn’t just delete our pictures (we had two), he deleted all 15? And he still uses the “I love you” cup.”

    I’m pretty sure that within another two decades all human interaction will be completely incomprehensible to me.

  3. That being said, I am pretty sure that the guy that told you repeatedly that doesn’t want to date you doesn’t want to date you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    LW1 – Stop borrowing trouble and talk to your BF – is she even planning to move back to your city? If he is so fickle that he would dump you after a year of dating, including planning to move in together, then do you really want him as a partner? If his ex has such control over him that she could snap her fingers and he would run back to her, do you really want him as a partner? I think a lot of your uncertainty comes from the fact that he was the dumpee and she the dumper. Calmly talk to your BF and explain that you are worried (and stop facebook stalking a woman you have never met).

    LW2 – Give yourself a break from social media (and please stop whomever is telling you your ex is using a mug – that is not healthy). Your relationship is over and you need to let it rest. Constantly trying to contact your ex, begging him to take you back, changing your behavior in the hopes he will change his mind – none of this is good for you or him. Do not text, snap, call, or message him because it is just dragging out the inevitable and lengthening the mourning period because you keep hoping that each moment of contact is a chance of reconciliation.

  5. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    My husband received a toiletry bag for travel when he was dating his ex girlfriend. He still uses it because it is useful. That was about 34 years ago. He doesn’t miss her. When we first started dating he expressed his relief about not being around her or her volatile family. She never comes up at all any more. He uses the bag because it works and she bought a good one that has lasted 34 years so far. I don’t feel threatened by it and have never considered replacing it. It is what it is, a toiletry bag.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      My husband has never wanted anything as a gift but electronics so the toiletry bag was something he was given as a gift that was useful but probably nothing he desired. In some ways it is a symbol of them being mismatched. Don’t read too much into him using what you gave him.

    2. I think this could be the next DW tagline (in the theme of “Enjoy Sweden”): “It is what it is, a toiletry bag.”

  6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    LW1 If they had both wanted to be together they would have figured out how to be together. Maybe that would have meant he moved to live near her. They didn’t figure it out so it probably wasn’t a high priority to them.

    During my first year of grad school my husband and I were not yet married and we were 1200 miles apart. We saw each other when we could which was three times during the school year. We got engaged that first Christmas apart and married the following August. That same August my husband finished his PhD and got a job at a university five hours from where I was. For a year we saw each other on weekends. Then I had completed my course work and research and was ready to write my thesis and I moved to live with my husband while writing my thesis. I was an early user of the internet sending chapters of my thesis over the internet from the mainframe at my husband’s university to the mainframe at my university. We made it work because we wanted it to work.

    They didn’t make it work because it wasn’t a high enough priority. Whether they will romanticize their time together and decide to give it another try is hard to say but I would assume that if he is talking marriage with you he has moved on from her. If he were to start backing off from wanting to live together and talking about a future together then maybe he would be entertaining ideas of her but if he is committing to you I think you have your answer. Just because they spent five years together doesn’t mean that they were five good years and it doesn’t mean that they had a better or happier or more compatible relationship that the two of you. He could be relieved to realize they didn’t end up together leaving him free to find and be with you.

    1. Northern Star says:

      I don’t think it’s wise to “assume” something so important. While I agree that it’s a strong possibility he’s feeling the way you describe—the LW MUST talk this over with her boyfriend so he can tell her exactly how HE feels. Or honestly, she’ll never be comfortable.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        Definitely talk about it.

      2. And some people are compulsively jealous and incapable of being comfortable, because they lack sufficient self-esteem to ever truly believe that any SO would choose to commit to them and remain committed.

      3. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I’m with Ron. I think her anxiety about the situation could undermine the relationship. She is searching out information about the ex. Not because her boyfriend is doing anything shady or seems to not be committed to her but because she has this anxiety. She is looking for trouble where there appears to be none. Instead of happily assuming that if her boyfriend has chosen her he wants her she assumes that he has only chosen her because he can’t have someone else and if the someone else becomes available he will leave her. How can the two of them (her and boyfriend) be very much in love and yet she has so much doubt about him. If she feels that he loves her very much why would he dump her for an ex. Why not assume that the ex is an ex for a good.

  7. WTF is a snapchat streak? I just looked at my own snapchat (which I don’t use that much and think is kinda stupid) and I cannot figure out WTF a streak is.

      1. Ha! I have a friend (former co-worker) I started using Snapchat to communicate with, while we still worked together, because the conversation disappears and doesn’t get saved. At one point, he was concerned we were snap-chatting too much, and that our frequency would overtake his frequency with his boyfriend, which would not be okay. He isn’t a teen either, he’s 28! Also, whatever, dude, I was telling him insider info that helped him get promotions and raises.

      2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I skimmed the article. It is so sad that people put so much emphasis on something so mundane and in many ways irrelevant to life. Time, in person, is much more valuable for building and maintaining a relationship.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      I was hoping one of you young whippersnappers could tell me what “620” meant. Google was of no help. I know 420. 620? No clue…

      1. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

        Probably 620 snaps between them. I think for a streak to continue, you have to snap at least once a day or the streak is broken. That’s my understanding from my kiddos.

      2. Yeah, based on the link I posted I THINK it means they have exchanged 620 messages without ever going a day without snapping? Or maybe it means 620 days? I guess I can see how a teenager would feel like “OMG we’ve never gone a day without talking in almost two years” is a big deal.

      3. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        ok, yeah, that makes sense!

      4. stickelet says:

        It means they have snapped each other 620 days in a row. Either by direct text or direct picture message, they have ‘spoken’ to each other 620 days in a row. I’m not really sure why the streak is important, I think I’m too old for that part. I am 34 and a daily Snapchat user, but I have never really thought about trying to keep a streak with someone, it hasn’t been important to me. I think the point is just that if they keep their streak, they are still in some form of daily communication.

      5. TampaBeeAtch says:

        So based on these streak descriptions, this is the modern online version of that episode of Friends where they keep throwing the ball without dropping it because they are bored. Got it. And that also made me feel insanely old.

    2. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

      I’ve only ever seen kids care about a streak so LW is still very young , and the streak means something.

  8. Avatar photo Moneypenny says:

    Oh man, LW2 makes me feel old too. And frankly she reminds me of me when I was a teen. Sometimes a coffee cup is just a coffee cup.

    1. TampaBeeAtch says:

      The way you phrased this just made me realize that the coffee mug I use at work, and have used at work at four jobs over the past 17 years is from an ex-boyfriend I haven’t spoken to in 7 years or so? I’d be mortified if he thought I might still have feelings because of that. It’s just a really cool Laurel Burch cat coffee mug that I love.

      And the snapchat nonsense is giving me a headache. I’m old.

  9. LisforLeslie says:

    LW 1 – I think you have to have a really deep discussion with the BF. It sounds like the ex lives as “the one that got away” and he regrets the break up (that she initiated). You deserve to be more than just a placeholder.

    LW2 – It’s over. But honestly, it sounds like you dodged a bullet. Did he communicate his concerns before breaking up with you? It sounds like he was very dissatisfied and instead of telling you this he either said nothing and gave you “tests” or made subtle comments and noticed if you took action on his comment. Or are you glossing over deep conversations in which he expressed his concerns and you just didn’t listen or think that he was telling you that he was unhappy?

    Regardless of the run up to the breakup. It’s over. You need to move on. Stop with the snaps. Your streak is not important. He doesn’t want to be the bad buy, and perhaps he’s not, this relationship simply isn’t working for him anymore and he’s trying to let you down as gently as possible. Just cut contact and move on. Keep going to the gym, join a book club or something social to keep you busy and make new friends.

  10. Avatar photo Cleopatra Jones says:

    Hah, LW#2 a snap is just a snap. It doesn’t mean that he’s secretly hoping that y’all get back together. It means that he thinks you’re going to fall apart without him, and he’s giving you enough contact so you don’t feel abandoned. He’s just being nice, he no longer wants an intimate relationship with you.
    Anytime anyone tells you specifically why they are unhappy in a relationship, take heed to that. It probably means that they really really thought about it, and tried to figure out a way to fix the relationship before ending it. Breaking up was the last resort, as he couldn’t see anyway to ‘fix’ the situation and be happy.

    1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      This second paragraph is so true.

      When people start talking about being unhappy they have almost always been unhappy for a while. When they break up over it they are usually completely finished. They are done trying and just want it to be over and done.

  11. dinoceros says:

    LW1: Nothing you’ve said indicates that you have anything to worry about. I get that sometimes people are sketchy and get back with exes, but plenty of people also break up and move on with their lives. If your boyfriend is acting like he doesn’t want to be with you or is sketchy about his ex, that’s one thing. But if it’s literally just that she’s getting done with school and single, then that’s somewhat irrational.

    LW2: You’re reading into things too much. Just because he broke up with you doesn’t mean the relationship you had doesn’t matter to him. He can keep stuff you gave him and not have that mean he wants to get back together. Part of why he is pushing you away is that you’re doing things that make it feel like you’re still dating. “No contact” isn’t for him to see what it’s like without you. It’s for you both to be able to move on and not turn this into a huge drama-filled relationship where you aren’t together, but you continue pining after him. Stop communicating with him. It’s over.

  12. LW2: I feel like you’re making “changes” in your life so that he will hopefully take you back. (I think that’s why you’re finding a way to let your ex know what you’re doing.) That isn’t a legitimate reason to make changes. You make changes for YOU. Long-term relationships do not work if you change for the partner; they’re only sustainable changes if you’re doing them for YOU.

  13. Monkeys mommy says:

    I fucking hate snap chat, and refuse to indulge that garbage. I wouldn’t date someone who valued a freaking “streak ” either.

  14. Anonymous says:

    LW1: stop playing “detective” on social media, you are damaging yourself and your relationship. You say you are both very much in love, so enjoy and be confident. Everybody has exes, you will be fine, and this woman will pursue her own life. I think you will really degrade your relationship if you say to your boyfriend that you are stalking his ex on social media, fearing her return, believing that he takes you as a rebound, and so on. You will sound nuts and insecure. Just don’t. Be in the relationship, don’t panic. Do you fear yourself the commitment? It sounds like this.

  15. LW#1 — most relationships end because of problems internal to that relationship not because a SO is lost to an ex or anyone else. If your partner is happy and in love with you he isn’t going to leave. If your relationship is troubled he may well seek an escape hatch, of which the ex might be one possibility. Likely where she moves after graduation will be determined by where she gets the best job offer. BTW, pleading with your SO to stop chatting with a friend because it makes you insecure and unhappy is not a good look. It suggests to your SO that you aren’t happy in the relationship and causes him to question whether the relationship is really working for him as well as he thought. A future with the perpetually jealous and insecure is a scary thought for most people. We know that relationships are built upon trust and what you are saying loud and clear is ‘I can’t trust you, so I need you to do these things which I hope will allow me to develop trust’. A logical reply to this is ‘this relationship isn’t working, seeya.”

    LW#2 — It’s really over. He isn’t going to get back with you. It ended because it wasn’t working. You will feel a lot better 3 months from now if you break contact, expand your own life, and prepare yourself for a new relationship. The more you stay active, the less lonely you will feel. Find something which excites you — take an art or poetry class, join a sports team, volunteer, take up an activity like hiking or line dancing or a community college course. Don’t de-ossify yourself and lose pounds in an attempt to regain your ex; do it for yourself.

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