Dear Darling D,
I’m friends with my ex, and my partner isn’t a fan of that. My ex and I dated for five years and when we broke up, it was amicable and we’ve been friends for two years since then. My current partner gets really jealous when we text, even though it’s completely platonic. Nothing I say helps my partner understand we’re just friends. I don’t want to lose either of them because they’re both important to me.
Courtney, All My Exes Live in Texas
Girl, this is a tough one! It’s always difficult when you can understand the perspective of both parties. For you, it’s understandable that there is still a friendship left from a long-term relationship that no longer harbors any romantic feelings. It makes sense, and makes sense you don’t want to lose that after investing so much time in that relationship. For your partner, it’s also understandable that they don’t love that you keep in touch with a former partner they don’t know. And if your partner does know your ex, they still might not like it, which I get!
I don’t believe there is a black and white answer here. I think there are a lot of things to consider, and then you need to make a decision that best suits you, your relationship goals, etc. Let’s start with the YOU-stuff and things to consider.
How emotionally connected are you to your ex? And your ex to you? Do you talk about significant things, trivial things, or both? Do you share with your current partner what you share with your ex? How often do you text? Do you text during quality time with your current partner? Do you turn to your ex when things aren’t smooth sailing with your current partner? These are just some things to consider before you have a conversation with your current partner to give you an idea of how you see it compared to how they may see it.
The most important thing here is to HAVE a conversation about the situation. I don’t know how many you’ve had before, but it needs to be intentional. Stephen Covey says “seek to understand before being understood” and in this case there should be a lot of that. You already know your partner feels jealous. Have you found out why? The jealousy might not have to do with you, but with their own insecurities. Do you know what those are? Have they been cheated on before in an ex-situation? Did they stay in touch with an ex at any point where there was still attachment? It’s better to explore now than later! And it may help you understand why they feel as strong as they do.
A potential solution may be putting boundaries in place, boundaries that you both agree to. What is your partner’s biggest pain point with the situation? Is there a boundary that will help that? Should texting time be limited? What is that limit? Is it about the content of your conversations with your ex? Does it make sense, and is it worth it, for your partner to meet your ex? Will that be viewed as an act of effort to help the situation, or based on your partner’s insecurities will that only hurt?
There are so many variables here; only you can take them all into consideration and work with your partner to move forward. Whatever boundaries you do agree to, you both must respect them. And that includes your ex as well – if they’re not respectful of them, it might be time for a friendship hiatus.
Fingers crossed for a win-win outcome for you Courtney!