Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Boyfriend Texts His Ex Once Every Three Weeks. Should I Dump Him?”

I have been dating this guy whom I love for almost nine months. He has an ex whom he dated like three years ago. They were friends before they dated for six months, and then they decided to stay friends. Now they text and see each other maybe once a month. When they text, it’s maybe for an entire day per week. It has been bothering me because I have told him I feel uncomfortable about this. And he says that I have nothing to worry about — that they are just friends and he wants nothing with her and she wants nothing with him. She has a daughter with someone else.

I put him in a situation where he had to choose between me and her and he couldn’t because he said she is one of the only true friends he’s ever had. He has agreed with a term that I made though — to only text her every three weeks and I get to see the messages. Also, he can only see her once a year just to catch up. Should I dump him because he couldn’t decide between our relationship or their friendship? — Jealous of Ex

No, you should not dump your boyfriend because he refused to choose you over a close friend he’s known for years. You should let him go because you are too insecure, immature, and emotionally stunted to have a relationship with anyone who has a life that doesn’t revolve 100% around you (and good luck finding that!). Honestly, setting “terms” on when and how your boyfriend touches base with his friends is beyond inappropriate. It’s pathetic. And I think eventually your boyfriend is going to look back and ask himself why on earth he went along with your stupid terms rather than kicking you to the curb. You will be doing yourselves both a favor if you do what he doesn’t seem to have the wherewithal to do and end this relationship while he still maybe has his balls intact.

I was with my ex for 14 years; we lived together for 11 and we have three kids. Four years ago I found out he had been cheating on me for five years with his coworker (the affair started right when we moved in together). I was blamed for it as I had become a different person from when we met — I wasn’t affectionate or loving and we worked opposite shifts.

I sought therapy (he did not and he doesn’t believe in therapy) and I changed for him because I really love this man. I tried to be more affectionate and loving, and even his family would tell me how much I’d changed. We bought a house and I guess I thought we were working things out. Well, eleven months ago he finally left me for another coworker. It hasn’t been a year and now they are both are all over social media stating how they’ve found “the one.” I’m heartbroken. I was so stupidly loyal to this man, and I got the boot at the end. I don’t wish him bad at all, but I just can’t be happy for him, not now at least. She was married and maybe she left her husband for my ex, I don’t know. Could it possibly be that he has found his true love? Is he now a better person, in a better relationship with a better woman? — Got the Boot

 
No, your ex, who chronically cheated on you for years, did not suddenly and magically become a “better” person after he left you for a married co-worker a few months ago. He’s still a crappy person, as evidenced by his social media behavior. Seriously, what kind of insensitive, dickwad manchild, who’s old enough to have a 14-year relationship under his belt and three children, posts pictures of his new girlfriend — who may very well still be legally married to someone else! — all over the internet, bragging about how he’s found his “true love”? Ew, he just reeks of douchebaggery and mediocrity.

I could spend paragraphs trying to convince you that he’s not happier now because someone like him will never truly be happy until he fixes his rotten core and it takes more than a few months and a new married girlfriend to do that, but the truth is: it doesn’t matter. He does not matter. What matters is YOUR well-being, and it’s not going to be as strong as it could as long as you continue to fixate on your terrible ex, the wrongs he committed against you, and what his life is like now. Instead, focus on your life now, your immediate and longterm needs, and the steps you have to take to meet those needs (which should include blocking your ex on social media and may include continued therapy, perhaps with a therapist who is not someone who once encouraged you to change yourself to keep your man).

Going forward, please know that it is ok, normal, and healthy to evolve as a person, both in and out of a relationship. No couple remains how they are in their first year together. Outside pressures, responsibilities, and, simply, time affect a relationship. And while affection, physical intimacy, and the rush of new love can wax, wane, and fade, the bond between two people who are truly committed to each other hopefully grows only stronger with every challenge faced, achievement met, and new adventure taken. To try to remain as you were when you first met someone, even after many years and experiences together, is not only futile, but also it’s a farce. That’s not to say a couple shouldn’t strive to keep the spark alive, but you do that not by pretending to be the people you were many years ago, but by enjoying new experiences together and appreciating the qualities that continue to attract you to one another.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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

21 comments… add one
  • juliecatharine

    juliecatharine November 5, 2018, 8:21 am

    WWS. Truly stellar answers today Wendy.

    LW1 I hope you are brought up short by this. Your demands are insane and controlling. You sound borderline abusive.

    LW2 I hope you have taken steps to ensure your kids are getting the financial support they need from their father. A guy who cheats and then squawks on social media about true wuuuuv is not someone who can be trusted to do what’s right. If you haven’t, please talk to a lawyer. Good luck, you deserve better than that jag bag.

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      Got the Boot November 10, 2018, 12:16 pm

      Julie Catherine,
      I am currently in the process of taking measures in obtaining financial support from him. Surprisingly, no he has yet to provide any type of financial support for his kids.

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    JD November 5, 2018, 8:53 am

    LW1: Telling someone what they can and cannot do will get you no where. You are way out of line and not mature enough for a relationship.

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    Moe November 5, 2018, 9:42 am

    LW1: What does it mean when you wrote, “When they text, it’s maybe for an entire day per week.” Do they text back and forth for the entire day? This seems a little excessive for two people who used to date. I do agree that she is immature, too, but this line confused me.

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      JD November 5, 2018, 9:45 am

      So they have a conversation, via text for a day. Meaning, hey texts, maybe an hour later she replies, etc. A text convo with some catch up can easily go throughout the day. That was my take and it is not excessive.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 5, 2018, 1:46 pm

        It depends on how much texting is involved. If it is a text an hour then no big deal. If it is every few minutes and interferes with life in general then it is a problem. If he can’t get through a checkout line without stopping to reply and holding up the line it’s a problem. If he is interrupting their conversation to reply to her then it is a problem. If he has trouble driving home from work because he is too busy texting then it is a problem. If it isn’t interfering then no problem.

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        dinoceros November 6, 2018, 3:45 pm

        If they were really texting every minute of the day, then it seems unlikely that they’d go a whole other week without texting at all.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. November 5, 2018, 10:36 am

    Honestly, LW1, if I were your boyfriend, I would dump you. You are too controlling. Unless you deal with your insecurity and jealousy issues, this same story will repeat itself over and over again. Ultimatums rarely work. Most often if you ask someone to choose between you and something/someone else, they will choose the something else. I’m frankly surprised that your boyfriend agreed to your terms. I predict he will figure out he made a mistake and dump you, if you don’t let him go first as Wendy suggests.
    *
    LW2, you’re way better off without this guy. A relationship between two cheaters is not destined to last. Pro life tip: Don’t ever change yourself for anyone else. If you feel the need to change, make sure you’re doing it for your own reasons, to better yourself. Anyone who would ask you to change for them isn’t worth your time.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 5, 2018, 1:44 pm

    LW1 Why are you so uncomfortable. Do you think he is wanting to get back together with her? If yes then break up because you have no future. Is it that you feel he spends too much time texting with her and talking to her and so doesn’t have much time for you? If his focus is outward from the relationship rather than inward to the relationship you should break up because it won’t last anyway. If you get plenty of time together and he isn’t constantly interrupting his time with you to text with her then you don’t have a problem. Are you the type who is hyper vigilant when there is no reason? If so, work on yourself because you will destroy every romantic relationship you have.

    A reason to be concerned is if it harms your relationship. A reason to not be concerned is if the harm to the relationship is coming from you making unreasonable demands.

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    Poppy November 5, 2018, 1:50 pm

    LW1 does sound insecure and jealous but it would be hard to determine if she has valid feelings about being concerned. LW, I think it’s a No-No for you to be telling your boyfriend who you can talk to and when you can talk to them and putting restrictions on him. None of that will prevent him from cheating. You have to have trust in a relationship. I think one thing that you didn’t touch on is if you have met this person. I think it would be beneficial for you to meet her and develop a friendship of some sort with her as well. I agree with Wendy’s advice and all the others above on this one.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 5, 2018, 1:53 pm

    LW2 You did nothing wrong. You worked on your relationship in good faith. He didn’t. The thing you really know about him is that he put his effort into cheating instead of into the relationship. If he had poured his time and attention and affection and emotion into your relationship you’d probably be together. He didn’t do that even though you did. That is his character flaw. That is who he is. The two of them may be happy for now but sooner or later at least one of them will be cheating on the other because that is who both of them are. Neither of them works on their relationship. Both of them go outside of the relationship and put their time and attention and emotion into something other than their primary relationship. That kills relationships. Some day one of them will tell the other something that sounds like what they heard them say to their partner when they were intending to cheat. They’ve both seen the other cheat. They’ve both heard the lies the other told their own partner. Sooner or later something is going to sound very familiar and then all of the fun of finding “the one” will turn into I think I’m being cheated on and how dare you do this to me.

    LW You are a much better person than that. Give yourself time to get over your lost relationship with all of the hopes and dreams that you had. You can do much better than the loser who left you. The one thing you shouldn’t do is take him back if he finds out she is cheating on him and he decides he made a mistake. That would be a mistake on your part.

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    Poppy November 5, 2018, 1:53 pm

    LW2 – do not waste anymore time on that douchebag and do not waste any more time blaming yourself. There is a man out there willing to give it all for you and treat you the way it woman should be treated. Go find that guy(or women) and go be happy. On the bright side everyone knows your ex is a loser.

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    juliet November 5, 2018, 6:29 pm

    LW1-I can’t completely agree with this advice from Wendy. At nine months I feel like you are entering the phase of your relationship when you ask each other “Will you be there for me when I need you?” I can see a situation where the answer is generally an enthusiastic “YES” except when the BF is interacting with this one person, who also happens to be an ex-lover (which may or may not actually be a factor in his decision not to be there for you). If that is the case, it’s good to listen to your gut when it tells you that you need that “yes” more often than you’re getting it–especially in the situations including this one person.
    This kind of struggle feels terrible at the time…when you have all the feels but not the insight into what’s really happening underneath the words and the choices. But I really think that it’s a normal part of the wordless discussion of “Do we care enough about each other to move this relationship to the next level?” A discussion that long-lasting relationships must have.
    And…this is also a good bail-out point if the answers to “Do you have my back?” and “Is there more ahead for us?” happen to be “no.” If you exit at this natural point you’re not as likely to build and invest in a relationship that makes you feel like your choices in life are limited. And if this is the end of this relationship, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person or he is a bad person, you just didn’t have something together that would go past this point. Sad? Sure. Tragic? Nope. Painful? Definitely. But you can do it, and if it’s better to do it now, do it now.
    Good luck.

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      Ange November 5, 2018, 7:14 pm

      I mean there’s literally no indication he wouldn’t be there for her if times were tough. There’s every indication LW1 won’t be there for him if he steps a foot out of line though.

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      ron November 5, 2018, 8:04 pm

      Juliet,
      No, a friendship with an ex does not remotely suggest that he won’t be there for his gf if she needs to lean on him or that he won’t be willing to take their young relationship to the next level. On the other hand, her obsession over what, by her own description and his promise to her, is just a platonic friendship, highlights her jealousy and insecurity and need to control him. If he leaves his gf, it will be because her jealousy drove him away.

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        Juliet November 5, 2018, 9:20 pm

        Ron and Ange-
        I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying. I didn’t mean being there for “the big/tough stuff” I meant “the tender stuff.”
        Some people are really great at being there when you need someone to help clean out the garage, or to hack back the blackberry bushes overrunning the back yard, or to get up at 4 am and take you to the airport, but then they disappear emotionally for reasons that are hard to fathom. There’s more to a bonded and trusting relationship than the surface conversations we have. Sometimes there is a very subtle level of “will you please tell me I’m good enough, because right now I don’t feel secure.” Sure, that’s needy when it goes to the extreme, and the LW needs to manage herself if it’s jealousy or unsubstantiated insecurity. But I really think it’s okay to ask that question of your partner if there’s a pattern of being emotionally unavailable. I don’t see it so much as a need to control as a need to feel safely connected. (And, yes, I am absolutely reading emotional unavailability into the letter.)
        How much does it cost the BF to say (if it’s true), “I get it, you’re feeling vulnerable. I don’t want you to ever feel like I don’t have your back”?
        If the BF feels that saying that is too coddling, or if he thinks her insecurity or jealousy has gone too far, he absolutely has the right to walk away and he should. BF wouldn’t need permission from anyone to do it, and I wouldn’t want him to feel badly about the choice. It would come down to a mismatch between LW’s needs and BF’s availability…no moral judgements involved.
        But I can also see how the BF might say (if it’s true), “I AM here for you, and at the same time I AM going to keep this friendship. Let’s figure this out.”
        Again, I know that I am reading into the situation. I just want to make room for the possibility that the BF could have a pattern of actual behavior that–coincidentally, or not, is happening with this one person–results in the LW genuinely feeling like her feelings don’t matter when this one other person comes into play. The one person coulda been a sibling, a parent, a grandparent, a co-worker, or in this case a platonic friend with whom the BF has history.
        I know it’s not generally acceptable for adults in our culture to “need to be attached to someone.” We often look at it as childish, something to be grown out of by the time we reach adulthood. But there is another school of thought that says we all need to feel securely attached to someone in this life to be able to thrive, and that need doesn’t go away at puberty, or with a driver’s license, or when voting rights are granted. (See Dr. John Gottman’s research.) I believe it is possible (and good and healthy) to be attached to someone in a bonded relationship and to also have friends of that same gender, without anyone in the picture being threatened or scared. (Thanks for the cordial discussion.)

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      dinoceros November 6, 2018, 3:44 pm

      She never said he was emotionally unavailable. She never even said that his texting or seeing the friend negatively impacts their relationship. The only thing she said is she made him choose between them and he refused, which was an unreasonable request. You can’t say “She asked him this crazy thing and he said no, so therefore, he won’t be there when she wants him to be.” That’s like saying that because someone refused to loan you a thousand dollars that they would never do anything to help you in the future.

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      MP November 6, 2018, 3:51 pm

      I’m curious though, is there any indication that boyfriend isn’t there for LW in the way LW wants? Because to me, it sounds like he’s complying with LW’s absurd demands. I don’t think he should personally because LW seems controlling (and borderline abusive), but he IS listening to her requests and making sacrifices so he seems to ‘have her back’ in the way she wants (as warped as it sounds to me). And for what it’s worth, the boyfriend setting boundaries does not suggest emotional availability to me. Being emotionally available to a female friend does not negate emotional availability to a girlfriend.

      Also, this is a 9 month old relationship so I don’t think know if this is at the profound level of attachment that you’re speaking of. This isn’t a married couple, or a co-parenting couple, or even an engaged or co-habitating couple that we know of. They sound incredibly young and haven’t been together for a year even.

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    dinoceros November 6, 2018, 3:40 pm

    LW1: I don’t see much hope for your relationship if you’re already at the point where you are acting like his mom/prison warden. What adult tells another adult how often they can text or see their friend and insists on reading their texts? If your boyfriend had written in, I’d tell him to dump his controlling girlfriend because she sounds like she sounds like a jealous, immature person. If you start dating someone and you don’t like the role their friendships have in their life, then you should stop dating them and date someone who does not have exes who are their friends.

    LW2: I think you need to do some work on yourself if you response to your partner cheating for five years and then blaming it all on you is to try to “do better.” If he didn’t like how the relationship had become, then he should have tried to fix it and, if that didn’t work, break up with you. Cheating is never the appropriate response. The fact that you are sad to have lost him despite him being a terrible person makes me sad.

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    csp November 6, 2018, 4:16 pm

    LW1: I think you are focusing on the wrong factors here. I know when my husband and I were dating, he had an ex that was a friend and was clearly in love with him. This was during flip phone times so texting wasn’t so pervasive. However, this was an issue. So I told him, you can have whatever relationship you want, but I need to meet her and get to know her. We are both part of your life. Then she refused to meet me. She clearly wanted to get back together and it became clear to him at that point when the heat was turned up on her. If this person is a friend, then try to be part of his life. Get to know her. If that can’t happen, I think he could be gaslighting you and I would end the relationship.

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    JD November 6, 2018, 4:23 pm

    My ex and I were always going to be friends and anyone we dated had to accept that. We both dealt with people not loving it, as well as people accepting it. We both also were pretty clear that we had basic reasons we just weren’t right for each other and those would not change, and we had over a decade to make it right, it just wasn’t ever going to be. Some days he would text me a lot, some days we would chat a lot, some days we’d grab lunch. Other days not at all. I was very upfront about it and would not have been interested in someone who told me when I could and could not talk to him. I was upfront and detailed about the type of relationship we had and I won’t be with someone who doesn’t trust me to chat back and forth with my ex now and then. That being said, no one can tell me who I can speak to. It is one thing to say “it makes me slightly uncomfortable” but to set standards and read the messages. SOOOO INSECURE! You have mentioned nothing other than them speaking to indicate you have any reason to be so jealous. It sounds like if they still wanted to be together, they would, much like my ex and I.

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