Is it okay for my girlfriend to hang out with her needy ex?
Why she would hide their meetings if there's nothing to hide?
Am I rational or am I the product of being cheated on several times in the past?
posted by dreamsofhorses to human relations (42 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a lesbian and have been with my girlfriend for about a 11 months. We're both in our early 30's and this is not our first relationship. She's extremely loving and kind and we have had few problems or arguments.
My girlfriend has admitted to having trouble saying "no" to people in her life and often gives beyond her means. This is something we've talked about when it is related to us, but it has become difficult to discuss when it relates to her ex girlfriend who she is trying to rebuild a friendship with.
She started seeing me 7 months after her break up with this ex. She and her ex were together for a little over 3 years. They lived together, fought a lot, and had a very unhealthy dynamic. My girlfriend told me that she's finished with dating her ex, but wants to remain friends with her. She says that she gave her ex too much and neglected her own career and needs.
10 months ago when we started dating, little to my knowledge, my girlfriend still had a very emotionally dependent friendship with her ex, who she'd been broken up with for 7 months. As early love goes, I found it easy to "let live and let be". I was happy to take things slow and only knew that she was still friends with her ex.
After two months, my girlfriend and I started seeing each other more than once a week. Her ex realized she was getting more serious about me and as she became less available to her needs. She confronted her. At this point I learned that they'd been talking on the phone every day since their break up. While my girlfriend swore it was all business and catching up and that there was no romance to their friendship, I did find it a little odd to have that much contact, especially since my girlfriend complained that she hated talking on the phone (we mainly communicated on email and text).
After their blow up over email, my girlfriend went in person to talk (read: "process") with her ex, told her that she is not interested in getting back together and that she could only offer friendship. Her ex accused her of "misleading her" by being too available to hang out and not telling her every detail about her relationship with me. I was fine with her not sharing more-- my girlfriend is very PDA with me and introduced me to all of her other friends. I don't think it's the ex's business to know the details of our relationship as long as she knows that we are dating.
Her ex didn't speak to her much for two months after that. Our summer was calm. At the end of this summer she came back into the picture and they talked about rebuilding a friendship. She started meeting up with my girlfriend once a week or so for dinner on a week night.
I was uncomfortable and felt slightly threatened when she mentioned these hang outs and as they became more frequent. I didn't say anything to her right away, did a lot of introspection. After reading a message on this board, I suggested to my girlfriend that the three of us (she, her ex, and I) hang out. I figured part of it is that their friendship was so abstract to me and this would make it "okay", even if it would be a little awkward at first. My girlfriend was on board.
The next day, she called her ex, who right away adamantly refused to hang out in an intimate setting with me. My girlfriend told me that she pleaded, but her ex wouldn't budge because she has "social issues" and thinks it would be awkward. My girlfriend told me that she would hang out with her ex less and make boundaries with her from then on, but clearly stated that she would not stop being friends with her ex.
Since then, I've noticed that my girlfriend does hang out with her ex less (once every two weeks, from what I gather), but often tries to obscure when they do hang out, mainly by omitting information. Sometimes she tells me they hang out, sometimes she'll act as if she went to see a movie alone (and I'll later discover she went with the ex by overhearing her talking to a friend). I've told her that I'm uncomfortable with this, she says she understands and isn't hiding anything.
I've already made it very clear that I'm hurt by her ex's refusal to hang out with me, and she responded that she wished it were different and would continue to hang out with her less. I know that part of this is her being a people pleaser and not wanting to hurt my feelings. But at the same time, she's mentioned her ex as one of her closest friends and hand-made her a stuffed animal for a birthday gift this year (which she happened to mention after the fact). I don't see myself as a jealous person and have not had this issue in past relationships, but I find jealousy tearing me up.
Last night, we met up at a cafe and she was on the phone when I arrived. She got off quickly and was upset. She told me that her "friend" had just hung up on her when she said I arrived. I asked who her friend was and she changed the subject and didn't answer. I asked again, she somehow found a way to divert the conversation. I was very uncomfortable.
Today, at perhaps my worst moment, I did something I've said I'd never do and looked at her phone while she was in the shower. Confirmed--the the person she'd hurried to get off the phone with was indeed her ex.
I know I'm at fault for snooping. Some important background on me is that my last relationship of 8 years ended with my girlfriend cheating on me, and this kind of thing (lying, omitting information) makes it hard for me to trust someone. I also have a lot of doubt about my own instincts, versus "am I being paranoid", so confirming this was somewhat comforting. But now the question is, what do i do? My girlfriend went home for christmas so I have a full week to ruminate and perhaps drive myself crazy over this ;)
I'm afraid that what I thought to be very careful and conscientious efforts to ask for what I need and voice my hurt feelings have caused her to be less honest with me, although I'm not sure this is rational since she seems like she was doing this to "protect" my feelings from the time we started dating.
I feel that my only option is to stay and try not to be bothered, or leave. Aside from this lingering situation with her ex which at times wracks my mind, things with us are great. We communicate well, want the same things for the future, and have a great time together. On the other hand, I don't want to sign on to anything and ignore signs of on-going dishonesty.
I ask why she would hide information if there's nothing to hide? Am I being rational or am I just a little crazy myself, the product of being cheated on several times in the past? Would it be more ethical for her to stop hanging out with her ex and is that something I can even ask for?