In this week’s question from our community, we heard from Angela, who has been seeing her new boyfriend for a few months, but is worried that he’s not over his ex. Here is our advice on how to deal with that situation.
Q - I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for a few months now, and I think I’m falling in love with him. Things are great in the relationship, but there’s something bothering me. He recently ran into his ex, and it seems to have bothered him. I’m worried he’s not over her, and I’m scared about the possibility of him leaving me to get back together with her. Can you give me any advice? Thanks, Angela.
A - Hi, Angela. Ah, exes. They’re tricky. When we’re in a new relationship, we want to appear cool and casual about our partner’s exes, but it’s natural to worry about them, and it is often impossible to control. Most of the time, there is nothing to be worried about; relationships end for good reasons, and most people don’t have any desire to get back together. However, occasionally, people don’t move on, and do want to rekindle their romance. But how can you tell the difference between the two, if you’re in a new relationship with somebody? Here are some questions you should ask yourself in this situation.
How do they talk about their ex?
It is usually easy to tell if a person isn’t over their ex, as their will be some warning signs. The most obvious, perhaps, is if they constantly talk about them; even if what they are saying about their ex isn’t nice or positive, and they seem to show anger or resentment, if they’re talking about them it means that they’re also thinking about them.
Hurt and anger are strong emotions, and if somebody is clearly harbouring these feelings towards their ex, it means that they’re not over the relationship, even if they think they are. To be really over a relationship, and the person you were with, you have to move on from whatever happened, and feel no strong feelings towards the person or the situation.
This also applies if they’re constantly talking about them in a positive light too. Yes, it’s possible for exes to be friends, or at least on friendly terms, but if they’re talking about them more often than their other friends, it is a sign that there are still possible feeling there.
On the flip side of this, it’s also a possible red flag if they refuse to talk about their ex at all. Exes are a part of our lives, and play important roles in the stories of our past, so it’s unavoidable to mention them when we talk about things we’ve done or places we’ve been. If your partner goes out of their way to avoid talking about these memories, it could be that they’re too painful, which is a sure sign that there are still feelings involved.
How long has it been?
Another telling sign that somebody isn’t over their ex, is how long it has been since their breakup. There are varying different theories about how long it takes to get over an ex; ranging from a few months, to half the length of the relationship. However, people obviously rarely wait years to enter a new relationship after a breakup, so a general guideline would be to watch out for those who split from their ex anything less than six months ago. If it’s only been a short amount of time, there is a higher chance that what you have is unfortunately a rebound.
Another thing to watch out for is if a relationship has been over for a long time, but they haven’t taken any steps to make it official. This is important if they were married to their ex, or owned a house together. If it’s been years, and they’re still not divorced, or haven’t attempted to sell joint property, it could be a sign that they’re still holding out hope for a reunion.
Should you stay or go?
It’s important to have empathy and understanding for your partner; we’ve all had our heart broken at some point, and know how hard it is to get over that. If the person you’re seeing is struggling to move on from their ex, try to practice empathy, and understand that it’s only natural. Don’t blame them, and try not to make them feel bad for it, as this will only make matters worse.
However, you also need to look after yourself. If you feel like your current relationship is in jeopardy because of their feelings for their ex, you need to put yourself first; you need to decide if you want to stay and fight for your partner, or if you want to walk away.
If your partner still has feelings for their ex and there are signs that they could possibly get back together, then as hard as it is for you, you owe it to yourself and them to step aside. Tell them that you can’t be with them while they still love their ex, and that you deserve somebody who is 100% in your relationship. Wish them well, and walk away and take care of yourself.
However, if your partner is simply hurting and struggling to move on, despite wanting to, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should end things. If they truly want to get past their feelings and move on, try to be patient and give them some time to do this. The hurt and and anger will most likely fade over time, and your relationship could even help those feelings disappear quicker.