Question: Dear Luise: Before my fiancee and I got together he was in a relationship that lasted 15 years. It has now been 1 1/2 years since we got together and they still have contact. His “ex” messages and calls him every day. She moved down the road to where he lives. She even dyed her hair the same color as mine. She is not letting go of him and he is finding it hard to let go of her. My partner is a very soft and kind-hearted man and he feels guilty for hurting her, but at the same time their relationship is hurting me so he is confused about what to do. I have been seeing a therapist to talk about my feelings. I have talked to my partner about it. I have even given him an ultimatum, but all of these things seem to only have a temporary calming effect. I love him and I want to start planning our future with him but this situation is starting to really get me down and hold me back. I don’t know what to do? Marisa
Answer: Dear Marisa: If your guy can’t deal with his “ex” then he probably isn’t your guy. His on-again/off-again behavior sounds like they have a lot of unfinished business.
Fifteen years is a long time and they share a lot of history. His confusion and guilt are about him and there is little to nothing you can do about the fall-out. Certainly an ultimatum isn’t the way to go unless you are sure that you are willing to accept the results. If the “shape up or else” doesn’t go your way that leaves you with having to follow through on the “or else.”
Seeing a therapist about handling your own feelings is a very wise and safe way to protect yourself. I think the hardest thing about something like this is not being able to do anything about the dangling part. For that reason, I would suggest that you let him go. You’re not getting anywhere. He may have to explore whatever feelings he has left for his “ex” before he can move on and he may decide to get back into a relationship with her again. All of that is about them…not you. Certainly the three of you are getting nowhere fast.
It’s time for the guy to deal with his confusion. None of us like how it feels to hurt someone else but if he lets those feelings rule him, then it really isn’t over.
Give yourself some distance and a chance to untangle from the whole thing. Blessings, Luise