My boyfriend is dating his ex (help!)

Swin9

New member
Hey Everyone,

I need your advice on a sticky situation. My boyfriend and I decided to open up our relationship a few months ago. He's always been a "one person at a time" kind of guy, but surprisingly, he's really into our new arrangement, dating girls and going out for weekends with them. I'm cool with it too, mostly, but I'm struggling a bit with the change and worry about losing him, since he's never been into juggling multiple relationships before. We're communicating a lot, and I'm not (too) jealous by nature. He keeps reassuring me a lot, saying that he loves me, wants to be with me forever, and that I'm his constant, so that helps.

Here's the twist: when we met, he was with another girl. Things were going badly between them, mainly due to communication issues, and he was planning to break up with her. Then he met me: their breakup happened fast, and then we started dating. No cheating or anything, but the whole situation was a bit rushed for my liking, but I said to myself that we had fallen in love and that could happen...

They had a messy split. She took it really badly, even going so far as to threaten him. Then they cut off contact.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago (4-and-a-half years passed), right after we opened up our relationship, and out of nowhere, she pops back up. They started talking again, cleared the air (which I'm glad about, because he always felt bad for it), and now they're "friends." But here's the problem: we agreed not to date each other's friends or exes when we opened up our relationship. He agreed at the time (also because he didn't have any exes still in touch), but now that she's back, they're meeting up tonight, and it's triggering me more than I expected.

I've tried to explain to him why it bothers me. There's more history, intimacy and potential for complications with an ex, you know? But he says she's just a friend... who he wouldn't mind hooking up with. I told him he is obviously free to do what he wants, but I cannot agree with that. I trust him, but I can't shake this worry.

Any advice? Thanks, and sorry for the long story!
 
Yikes. Your bf seems to have what I call kid-in-a-candy-store-itis. In your intro you said he's dating several women, and even making plans for weekend trips with people he's just met. Now he wants to hook up with an ex from years ago, who threatened him at the time they broke up!

Is he an Aries, by any chance? Haha, I'm half serious. When I met my bf over 2 years ago, he was new to poly, and he is an Aries. He just jumped in to dating pretty much anyone who'd have him. As the months progressed, there were some sticky situations, some messes, some namecalling and bullshit on the part of his dating partners, and goodness knows what.

I mostly just stayed out of it all. As long as he was practicing safer sex, and keeping our dates, and keeping in touch enough for me to make sure he was safe, I tried to let him have his head and learn his lessons. Eventually he did calm down and start to learn how to pick out more stable people to date. The first year was a bit of a wild ride but then the road got smoother.

Let me know if that helps and if you need more specific feedback. It sounds like you'd both agreed to not dates exes, but yet he wants to renegotiate that as soon as one popped up. Are you really okay with that? Is he splitting straws by saying he just wants to bang her, and nothing else?
 
I'm sorry you struggle.

But here's the problem: we agreed not to date each other's friends or exes when we opened up our relationship. He agreed at the time (also because he didn't have any exes still in touch), but now that she's back, they're meeting up tonight, and it's triggering me more than I expected.

Are you both on the same page on this agreement or not? Because to me it is not clear.
  • I agree not to date your friends or your exes.
  • I agree not to date your friends or my exes.
  • I agree not to date your friends or ANY exes -- yours or mine.

Can you see how if I can take it several ways, he could?

And what is "date" anyway? Does a hook-up date "count" as "dating." or not? To you ANY type of date might be a "date," but to him a "hook up" is not a date.

I wonder if you and BF are using the same words differently. You might want to talk and calibrate vocabularies, to avoid misunderstandings with him.

They had a messy split. She took it really badly, even going so far as to threaten him. Then they cut off contact.

Ugh. I don't blame you for not wanting her anywhere near you.

I've tried to explain to him why it bothers me. There's more history, intimacy and potential for complications with an ex, you know? But he says she's just a friend... who he wouldn't mind hooking up with. I told him he is obviously free to do what he wants, but I cannot agree with that. I trust him, but I can't shake this worry.

If you are worried about complications or new threats, you can say it outright. "I can't stop you from dating or hooking up with your ex. But that was messy and weird for me back then. So if you plan to go there again, I want strict parallel poly, and I reserve the right to bow out if it gets too weird for me."

You have to be able to say, "I like/love you a whole lot, but not even for you will I do stuff that hurts me."

Your consent to participate in things or not belongs to YOU.

Galagirl
 
Hello Swin9,

If the two of you agreed not to date friends or exes, then he should be abiding by that agreement. If he wants to alter the agreement, then that's something he should sit down with you and negotiate. He seems to have gone all kid-in-a-candy-store on you: any girl that is available, he immediately wants to date her, without having any discussions with you about your agreements. As a result, he has not kept his word. He gave his word: no friends and no exes. And now he is breaking that word, with no negotiations. You have a right to be upset. Tell him he is breaking his word, and ask him why he didn't come to you first to talk about it.

I guess he is approaching this ex as a friend with benefits. Is that okay with you? If not, you need to sit down with him and explain that he is cheating on you. He is building a relationship with his ex without your consent. That's cheating, cheating out in the open. Ask him if he's willing to stop cheating like that. And if he says no ... well ... should I even suggest breaking up at that point? You have to figure out whether you and he are compatible anymore. Maybe you've grown apart?

The only other alternative I can see is for you to get okay with this FWB arrangement with his ex. And mind you, he might soon decide he wants to be more than FWBs with her. Then you would also have to get okay with that. I should say, there is at least one other alternative: Stay with him, do not be okay with what he's doing, and just be scared and miserable while he goes off and has his fun. You could also endure the situation for a fixed amount of time. A month? a year? five years? fifty? You decide.

I hope you can work things out.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
 
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