She is Friendly with Her Ex and You're Not Liking it

Dear Dr. Turndorf,

I've been dating my girlfriend for about a year and five months. Recently we've been having problems.

I found out that her ex-boyfriend that she only went out with for three months in the past had called her at her job to talk to her again or whatever his intensions are. But my girlfriend gave him her cell number. She is the type of person that thinks that talking to any guy from her past is ok.

She never loved her ex. I am her first love, so she considers her ex-boyfriend as a friend, so she says.

But it bothers me. I don't like her talking to him. She tells me he only calls her once every two weeks or so. She sees nothing wrong with it but I think is not right to be talking to her ex even if it is just for friendship. It does not bother me she talks to guys but only if I know them and I know there will be nothing between them.

She tells me I'm wrong. She says she loves me and only me and other people won't come between me and her. I feel like if she cheated on me because I had to find out for myself that she was talking to him. She told me 'I did not tell you because I knew you were going to get mad.'

So am I wrong for not liking the way she thinks. I think I'm right that I got mad about it. I almost ended the relationship because I felt so betrayed. I need someone else's point of view. So can you please help me.

And another question. I have been my girl's first sexual partner and she was mine too. I want to marry her and she wants to marry me but I'm afraid that if I do get married to her, she would start wondering how it would be if she have had sex with other men.

She does not complain about our sex life she says is great and she would like to keep me forever and that I satisfy her in every way. So I'm just hoping you can help me with my problems.

Thank you for your time.

Answer: 

I understand that you are feeling threatened. You say that you would be comfortable if your girlfriend were friendly with men that you know, but you aren't comfortable with her being friendly with an ex-boyfriend.

Frankly, I don't think you would be comfortable if your girlfriend was friends with any guy. In fact, I think that you will always worry about her leaving you for another man. Why? Look at your question to me. At the end of your letter, you mention the additional fear that she will wonder what it's like to have sex with other men. Obviously this fear of yours is yet another manifestation of your deeper fear that you're going to be left.

In other words, your current struggle is just a smokescreen for the deeper issue, your fear of being dumped. I promise you, even if you could convince your girl to stop being friendly with her ex, you would soon find yourself worrying over some other word or action that she engages in. I promise you that your worry will continue until you identify the real cause of your fear. The kind of fear that you have can only be caused by emotional injury that you suffered early in life.

I know that somebody left you when you were young. Because your wound is unhealed it resurfaces in your present relationship in a couple of ways.

First, your mind confuses your girlfriend with the person who left you and this makes you feel afraid that she will also leave you. Your unconscious mind has brought your wound to life because of the desperate wish to heal. Replaying the wound is the only way that the mind knows how to heal itself.

Unfortunately, replaying the wound with your girlfriend is not only not going to heal you it could actually make your predictions come true. If you're too jealous, accusatory, or possessive, she will keep secrets from you (remember she said that she didn't tell you about her ex because she knew how you'd react). When you become upset over the secrets, she keeps more secrets. You will become even more threatened and worried, she'll become even more secretive and you will find yourselves in a vicious cycle that will ruin your relationship.

The only way out is to heal your wound. Until you do you will never be able to have a wonderful relationship with your girlfriend and soon to be wife. To begin healing your wound, put yourself in a state of relaxation. Breathe deeply and close your eyes. Now think back and see the face of the person who left you. See yourself back then. See where you are, the room; see what you're wearing.

Now focus on how you're feeling. Scared? Hurt? Angry? Next I want you to have a conversation with the person who left. Tell him or her exactly how you feel about his/her leaving. Have a dialogue. Hear what he/she says back and then you respond. Let him/her understand you. Let yourself understand him/her. Realize that this discussion will need to be ongoing. Eventually you will work through your feelings and make peace.

When you have worked through all the feelings about having been left when you were young, you will able to leave the past in the past. You will then be able to see your girlfriend for who she is--a woman who loves you and wants only you.

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