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Love Letters

He’s in touch with his ex

Q. I have been dating “Matt” for a little over a year now. A few months after we met online, he asked me to move in with him. I didn’t say no, but I waited a few more months to be ready because I felt we needed to get to know each other better. We are in our 40s. We enjoy doing many things together and have similar life goals. We are planning for a future together. He is very good to me and I love him dearly.

The relationship has been great save for a few jealous occasions. He has trust issues because of his past relationships. He gets suspicious when I go out with my friends and needs to know who is going.

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He has had an ex lingering around for years. They met young and dated for about a decade. He said they never got married because she couldn’t take the relationship to the next level and didn’t enjoy doing many of the things he likes to do. They have stayed in touch through the years. I know they still communicate because when I asked him to stop, he said he couldn’t. All I asked was that he tell me if he talks to her or sees her. He said he would but he hasn’t.

I accepted the fact that he will always communicate with her because they have known each other for a long time. I also know that they rekindled their romantic relationship a few years ago to try to see whether they could have a future together. It didn’t work out.

Friendship is important, especially the lifelong friendships. That 30-plus-year connection is something they will always have. I don’t want to take that away from him.

But now that he and I are together, I want to be the one he comes to when he needs something. I want to be the one he comes to when he is sad and needs a shoulder to cry on.

I want to have an honest relationship with this man. Is it OK for him to keep the communications with his ex a secret?

Boston

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A. We don’t have to tell our partners everything. Sometimes over-disclosure can imply that there’s a problem when there isn’t. If he’s not interested in this woman and just enjoys catching up with her on occasion, he probably doesn’t need to make a big confession about it. Old friends are OK. Not all exes are threats.

What’s not OK is the double standard. Do you really have to tell him everything? Has he eased up on the jealousy over time? Because that will get old.

And . . . how often is he talking to this woman? I can understand the occasional phone call, but is this ongoing? If she’s a close friend — someone who’s a big part of his life — he’s going to have to do a better job of bringing her into your shared world. If you’re living together, you have to have a sense of each other’s communities. That’s only fair.

But let’s get to the last part of your letter, where you tell us that you want to be his support system. Forget about this woman for a second and ask yourself, “Are we getting closer? Does he confide in me? How is our friendship?” Those are the important questions. If you feel like things with Matt are getting better — and more fun — with time, none of the other stuff matters so much. If you’re feeling alone in this relationship, it probably has nothing to do with this woman. It’s about him. And you.

Focus on what’s happening between the two of you. It’s been a year now. It’s time to ask yourself whether you’re really happy and can relax in this relationship.

READERS RESPOND:

He demands explanations about what you do with friends. But he refuses to discuss his interactions with an ex? Epic fail.

Neither of you trust the other. You are in your 40s. Wake up, LW, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.

He wants it both ways. It’s OK for him to have this ongoing friendship with an ex yet he gets jealous and very controlling if you go out and don’t tell him who is going with you. You want to know every time he talks with his ex. Hmm, doesn’t sound like happily ever after to me. LW, I think you and Matt need time to get to know each other and build trust. Both of you want full disclosure 24/7. While transparency is important, it isn’t life or death if he doesn’t tell you every detail of every conversation he has with the ex. And you don’t need to explain to him who you are spending time with when you go out without him.

“Is it OK for him to keep the communications with his ex a secret?” No. And I think you already know that. i think your BF has a lot of nerve being jealous (when you go out with girl friends) while he sneaks around secretly communicating with his ex and doesn’t
tell you. Are you sure this is the relationship you want to be in?

I was a little annoyed with her when she asked him to stop talking to his friend. Then when she realized he wasn’t going to obey her, she changed her tune and submitted another request. When that didn’t work, she claimed she didn’t want to “take the friendship away” from him. Doesn’t she understand she can’t?

OK. Now I see. This is a match made in heaven. Each one wants to control the behavior of another adult. This always works out well.

You contradict yourself. You say friendships are important and you don’t want to take that away from him. But you’d said a few paragraphs before that you had asked him to stop talking and he refused. So you did want to take that away from him. I think you both sound a little jealous and paranoid, honestly, he is no better than you with his quizzing you about your activities. I guess you have to decide if your baggage is too much for one another, or if it matches.

I don’t understand why LW wants to stay with a controlling hypocrite who obviously doesn’t trust her very much. And I find it odd that she says he is “very good to me.” A guy who gets suspicious every time you walk out the door and insists on knowing your whereabouts at all times is not being “very good” to you.

Column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.
com
. She chats online on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.

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