I’m 27 and have been in a relationship with my now-fiancé Luke for two and a half years. We are in a loving and trusting relationship; I have no idea how I got lucky enough to call him mine. We met at work but he was dating someone at the time, which was a really toxic relationship to say the least. He eventually ended things with her after three years together and within a few months we began dating, but his ex’s presence was still there. She persisted with calling/texting him, and I know this because I was bad and snooped once, and I couldn’t get over her determination to keep reaching out. She eventually found out he was dating someone else and he had no other choice but to block her.
Fast forward to today and Luke has another job, but I still work at the same place where we met. The other day, I spotted Luke’s ex-girlfriend at work from across the room. I tried to hide, but she marched right up to me – this girl was determined — said her name that she had dated Luke, and she let me know she was working there now. I feel like she had been waiting two years to come up to me and basically give me an anxiety attack (happy Wednesday to me). Her taking a job where I work has royally messed with my head, and it feels like she was out for revenge. We work in a big place so sometimes I never see her, sometimes I see her eight times a day, and sometimes I get this wave of confidence and seek her out on purpose just so she sees me. Holy ego, I know.
Seeing her in the flesh has made me feel insecure and defeated almost. I find that I’m analyzing myself a lot all of a sudden. Am I pretty enough? Did he like how she dressed? Should I dress up more like her? My head spins. This place is where Luke and I met, our friends are here, and he comes to visit from time to time. It also has an amazing culture and environment, which I have always loved. I am very aware now that she is part of that culture, and it drives me mad. Out of all the places to work, why here? I’m so content and happy in my relationship, so why does her being here bother me so much? I need to be content with the things I can’t change and move on with my head held high. I just clearly need a little advice in the process. Help?! — Driven Mad
Well, first of all, I got my popcorn and wine ready like you said and… well, your story was not as dramatic as you promised and now I’m just eating popcorn and drinking wine in the middle of the morning for no good reason like an idiot. Second of all: Let’s break things down, shall we? You work at a very big place with an amazing culture and environment that seems to attract like-minded people (or people like-minded enough that you’ve made friends and found a boyfriend), so it does not seem strange that someone your age where you live might apply for a job there, right? I really don’t think Luke’s ex taking a job where you work has all that much, if anything, to do with you or with her getting revenge, and to suggest so speaks more to your immaturity and over-dramatic-ness than anything else.
I suspect you are not as content and happy in your relationship as you say you are. Why else are you snooping through your boyfriend’s — sorry, fiancé’s—phone, endlessly comparing yourself to an ex you say was really toxic for him, and convincing yourself that she’s “determined” to somehow destroy your relationship or get him back or seek revenge? Girl, relax. I get that it’s not fun to share an office with an ex of your fiancé. That sucks. But, really, don’t you think it would probably suck worse for her? It’s your turf, and you’re engaged to the guy you think she’s still in love with. Plus, it sounds like an all-out obsession you now have (“it drives me mad,” you say), and you want to know why it bothers you so much that she works there now. At least you are aware that this isn’t a totally normal reaction.
It bothers you because you feel threatened by her, clearly. You need reassurance that your fiancé is completely over HER and really into YOU. So, ask him for that reassurance. And if nothing he can say will really reassure you, you need to do some soul-searching and decide whether this is a healthy relationship for you. It should go without saying, but hold off on the wedding planning for now; you aren’t ready for that step.
Ultimately, your relationship has nothing to do with Luke’s ex-girlfriend and everything to do with you and Luke. If things aren’t good with YOU, like from inside, they aren’t going to be good between you and anyone you have a relationship with. If things aren’t good with you and Luke, then it makes sense you’re going to feel threatened by other women, especially a woman he once had feelings for. Get right with you, get right with him, and if you can’t, MOA.
That was five years ago. We’ve been together since that summer, except for a ten-month period when his job relocated him across the country. We moved in together last year, and, for the most part, we’ve been happy, until his ex came back into the picture. They hadn’t spoken in years, until she broke up with her fiancé, got drunk, and sent him a message saying she had made a huge mistake, she still loved him, and she would wait for him forever. It threw him for a loop, but he was again honest with me, he showed me the message, and we discussed how he should respond, which was basically a “thank you, but I’ve moved on. I wish you the best.”
I thought that would be the end of it, but she won’t go away. She keeps messaging him, and while he and I were in a rough patch a few months ago, she took advantage of him. He suffers from depression, which had taken a toll on our relationship, and she has been stroking his ego and manipulating him.
In the last month things have gotten so much better. My boyfriend has started going to therapy and dealing with his depression, which has done wonders for him and for our relationship. But she still won’t go away. He told me about all the conversations they had (which I hadn’t known about at the time), and he has stopped responding to her, but it drives me crazy. I hate her for taking advantage of him in a fragile state, I hate her for getting involved in my relationship, and I hate her for not just taking no for an answer. They broke up almost seven years ago, and I can’t help but wonder if I’m going to deal with her forever.
How do I address this without seeming like a crazy jealous girlfriend? I’m trying not to be, because I do trust him, but I don’t trust her to not manipulate and hurt him while he’s trying to recover. — Tired of Dealing with His Ex
You really trust your boyfriend? Truly? Because if you did, you would not have to worry about him being manipulated or having ongoing conversations with an ex from seven years ago. He was with this woman for eight months years ago, and then one night she sends a drunken text that she had made a mistake and still loves him? The two of you should be side-eying this woman, feeling sorry for her for being a little crazy, and your boyfriend should have blocked her every which way she had of reaching out to him.
If she didn’t get the message after the first “Thank you, but I’ve moved on new I wish you the best,” then that’s on her. But if your boyfriend didn’t respond to any ongoing attempts from her to reignite something with “I have a serious girlfriend I live with, this is inappropriate, I no longer want to hear from you and will be blocking your number now,” that’s on him. I don’t care if he’s depressed or whatever label you’re using to excuse his behavior. If he were 100% committed to you, he would be 100% disengaged from this woman trying to break you up, period. This is 100% on him. HE is the one in a relationship with you. SHE owes you nothing. But he does. Tell him to cut the shit me block her ass or you’re done.
I’m wondering, since your relationship started as a summer fling, during which he confessed he wasn’t over his ex-girlfriend, and then you morphed into something more serious, if you ever got confirmation from him that he HAD gotten over the ex? Or was it left open-ended? Does he — and do you — think on some level that because he basically “warned” you years ago that he wasn’t over his ex, that this behavior is excusable? Because it’s not. And he seriously should not be living with you if an ex-girlfriend can rattle him so much and make him re-consider on any level whether, or how much, he’s committed to you.
Consider this a huge red flag for you. In a long-term relationship, you are going to have far bigger challenges than some crazy ex-girlfriend swooping in and trying break you up. If the guy you’re building a future with is so easily rattled by this, you can bet the bigger issues are going to have far more devastating consequences.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.