The Washington Post
Texts to ex get thumbs down from her
Adapted from an online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My live-in partner of 10 months texts his ex-girlfriend. It creates big issues between us because he knows it troubles me (yes, I’m insecure!!!), we’ve talked about it, and he lies about it when I ask him directly. The major issue is trust on both sides, which we’re trying to tackle.
But it hurts me that he won’t stop the contact even though he knows how much it affects me. I’m wrestling with whether I should keep hoping he will stop — or “simply” let him be and stop being concerned about it.
Girlfriend: “Stop being concerned about it” is an option? Then take it! Immediately.
As for “keep hoping he will stop,” when he has shown no signs of stopping and lies to you to get you off his back, that’s a hard no. Hope without foundation = torment.
So drop it. The only productive option is to assume it will never stop, unless and until it actually stops.
What you do next with that information depends on your boyfriend’s character and your ability to trust yourself.
The former, his character: I actually think it’s good he won’t stop texting her for you. Either she’s a perfectly platonic friend and he’s right not to cave to your pressure just because you’re insecure — or he’s still entangled with his ex and it’s better for that to be visible to you than superficially covered up. You want people to be themselves out in the open, even (especially?) the bad stuff.
Ideally he would have the backbone to say to you, “No. She’s my friend. I won’t drop my friend just because you’re upset that she’s also an ex. I’m with you now, and we either need to trust each other or break up.”
Ahh. But he doesn’t. Could be that he’s a bad person, could be he’s just immature, but either way he’s choosing to lie to you, and that’s really bad news whether it’s his natural M.O. or his lousy response to your pressure.
And the latter, your ability to trust: Trust is just selfknowledge. Knowing what is okay with you and what isn’t; knowing where your blind spots are; knowing how to compensate for those blind spots; knowing you’ll be okay if you walk away from someone you don’t trust, or even if you stay and something goes wrong.
It seems you don’t trust yourself enough (yet!) to have an idea what is and isn’t trustworthy behavior out of him, or bad, or fair, or immature. You’re still building, maybe, that baseline trust in yourself.
Since you’re already living together, my preferred advice — to take a step back from each other to give your self-knowledge time to develop — is not practical. The close-contact version is to take what you know about him, everything you’ve gathered so far (not what you want, not what you imagine, not what you hope, not what you fear — what you KNOW) and accept it as the truth.
If you like what you know, then let go of the smaller things and see what happens. That’s the “stop being concerned” option.
If what you know is that your doubts persist and his actions aren’t helping, then get out of there nowwww instead of waiting for better news.
Neither of these has anything to do with the ex, by the way. She’s just one lens through which you can view your connection to him.
Write to Carolyn Hax at email@example.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/gethax.