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Relationships Sundays

Immediate Family Relations

How to Deal With a Partner’s Ex

Dealing with a partner’s ex can be, well, awful. The truth is that most of us prefer they just weren’t ever around. But in many situations, it can be unavoidable. Whether you share a circle of friends, they’re connected through work, or maybe even have kids together, sometimes there’s just no avoiding it. They’re there and they’re not going away. 

 

None of us want to be that crazy controlling significant other who’s paranoia destroys a relationship. If it could happen to Ross and Rachel, it could happen to you. And it doesn’t start off that way, but it begins instead of slow comments, and insecurity begins to creep in. I wish I could tell you that it wasn’t rational, but the truth is that the happiest relationship of my life ended because he still had feelings for someone else. It happens. And worse, many people find selves in situations where infidelity occurs with a previous partner. No one intends to go out and cheat, but it happens. So what do you do when you’re afraid of that? When you don’t want to give insecurity the reins, but you don’t want to be naïve either? 

 

 The first thing that you need to do is remember that your partner is with you for a reason. That their past relationships ended for a reason. Whether it was incompatible personalities or life goals, toxic arguments, or unfortunate circumstances, it ended. That chapter of their life, at least their feelings should be closed. If it’s something that still weighing on you, the most important thing you can do is communicate about it with your partner. You need to express to them to them specifically what it is about the situation that bothers you. Do they spend time one on one? How often do they talk? Are they both in other relationships? And what kind of boundaries do they have with each other? These are valid and important questions for you to ask. Your partner may brush them off, but remember that you have a right to ask these questions and to get answers.

 

While it can feel overwhelming and discouraging, remember throughout the process that it is possible to find a balance. To settle into an agreement that all parties are comfortable with, where insecurity doesn’t have power over you or the situation. Remember that relationships take work and commitment on both parties, and while you may not be a fan of the situation you may need to also allow grace for your partner as they probably are struggling as well to find a healthy balance for all parties involved.

Recommended Book

Ex-Wives and Ex-Lives

Dec 14, 2019
ISBN: 9780975296400

Interesting Fact #1

50% of men and 42% of women said that they would stay friends with an ex after breaking up.

SOURCE

Interesting Fact #2

33% of people admit to regularly dreaming about their exes.

SOURCE

Interesting Fact #3

25% of women said they would feel fine about dating an ex’s friend, and 50% of men said the same.

SOURCE

Quote of the day

Don’t be afraid to lose him, because if a man truly loves you, he’s not going anywhere.

- Unknown

Article of the day - 4 Relationship-Sabotaging Beliefs About Your Partner’s Ex

Feeling insecure about your partner’s ex? You're not alone. You may even fear being abandoned by a partner, who, in your mind, couldn't possibly be completely over their ex. These concerns can result in anxiety, preoccupation, and obsession. It's only a matter of time, you believe, until your partner dumps you upon realizing they're really supposed to be with their ex. This fear can be so consuming that it imposes an undue burden, altering the way you view yourself, your partner, and your relationship.

First and foremost, your insecurity may be understandable, especially if you've endured challenging relationships with caregivers and other important people in your life, including romantic partners who have let you down. Since past disappointments can shape your outlook and capacity to trust, it makes sense that you are driven to seek reassurance, validation, recognition, and acknowledgment from your partner.

It can even feel comforting to compel your partner to join you in dismissing or downplaying their past relationship. You may want to hear highlights about their ex's flaws. As you can well understand, that is not the healthiest way to transition into a secure, mutually-supportive relationship. Rather, the onus is primarily on you to manage your insecurity about a relationship that predates you, especially when the fixation is yours, not your partner's. 

Here are some common beliefs people have about their partner’s ex, followed by ways to help shift your perspective toward feeling more comfortable and confident in your relationship with your partner.

1. You fear your partner's ex is plotting to get back together (and will succeed). 

There is a secret plan to undermine your relationship. You cannot fathom how your partner could possibly be over their ex and into you. The fact that the word “ex” signifies a breakup is lost in the fear and paranoia that you will be abandoned unless you stay vigilant. Your vigilance is meant to somehow prevent your partner from going back to their ex.  

2. Your partner negatively compares you to their ex. 

Do you believe your partner’s ex knows them better than you do? The competition you create in your head between you and the ex usually does not result in you feeling reassured. No matter the circumstances — whether your partner has an extensive history with their ex, has children with them, or the ex initiated their breakup — comparing yourself to the ex is likely to lead to you to believe that they are superior, that you are less important to your partner, and that their relationship was better. The more you invent ways to compete, the more opportunities you invent to see yourself as inferior.

3. You are inferior to your partner’s ex.

When you're assessing your partner's ex and insist that you are actually looking at your partner’s ex in the same way your partner does — which you're not — you may deem their ex to be more attractive, intelligent, or successful than you. The more you build up their ex, the more you fear being rejected. As you continue to build the case against the viability of your current relationship, you are also promoting the "amazingness" of your partner's past relationship.

The results of these kinds of comparisons are unfairly burdensome and unrealistic: They are exes, after all. When these fears are indulged, they can result in paranoia and preoccupation with the ex. As you become flooded with insecurity, there is a destabilizing effect on you. The more entrenched you become in your convictions, the more you grow suspicious of your partner and seek continual affirmation from them.

4. You are suspicious that your partner’s ex has ulterior motives.

You resent your partner, but you resent their ex even more for having had a relationship with him or her. You are aware, on some level, that it's not rational to blame people for living their lives before you came on the scene, but you just can't help yourself. Irrational resentment is infectious, and the suspicion that accompanies it drives you to prove the unprovable. Why unprovable? Because fixating on something and someone you have no control over does not leave room for reassurance that will stick. When you invest yourself in the belief that your partner’s ex is better than you or that the ex has an agenda to reunite with your partner, there’s no stopping the depths into which you can sink yourself, your partner, and your relationship.

As you struggle to contain your feelings about your partner's past, keep in mind that people often go into relationships not realizing that they are looking to their new partner to make up for past heartbreak, rejection, shame, and unmet longings that predated their time with you. You may not realize how much responsibility you are placing on your partner to help you feel more secure about yourself. Steeped in suspicion, you risk infecting your relationship.

Here are some reality-based perspectives to help you decrease your fear:

By doubting your worth in the relationship, you are inadvertently setting your partner’s ex and their relationship up to be superior to yours. When you inflate the ex’s importance to your partner, you are setting your relationship up to fail, because the only way to envision your partner’s relationship with their ex is by making their ex come alive through your fear-ridden, distorted lens. It’s also important to keep in mind that your partner can’t help the relationships they were in previously, and the same holds true for you. Further, as difficult as this might be to fathom, the likelihood that your partner is in a relationship with you just to shame you for being inferior to their ex is pretty low.

Trusting in any relationship is incredibly challenging if you’ve experienced betrayal, abandonment, and other disappointments. Despite past traumas, there is no way to build a secure foundation in your partnership other than to take a leap of faith that your partner is who they appear to be. Holding on to suspiciousness and distrust won’t protect you from feeling devastated if your relationship ends. The reality is that a broken heart can happen whether you put trust in your relationship or not.

You are allowed to resent your partner’s ex for your own sanity, but you’re not allowed to impose your feelings on your partner. In relationships, you are only responsible for yourself. Your dislike of the ex doesn’t belong to your partner; it belongs to you. Find other places to vent about the ex. You cannot look to your partner to make you feel better about the choices they made before being with you: That’s self-sabotage. To combat that instinct, keep working on self-awareness.

Knowledge is power, and self-knowledge is the ultimate power. Understanding your contribution to the dynamics of your relationship is the most powerful tool you have for addressing your fears about your partner’s ex. 

Question of the day - Do you believe that exes are capable of staying in contact after breaking up and still be able to move on?

Immediate Family Relations

Do you believe that exes are capable of staying in contact after breaking up and still be able to move on?