Boyfriend's ex is seriously ill
May 27, 2014 9:13 AM Subscribe
My boyfriend's ex has leukemia. While she could recover if her bone marrow transplant is successful, there is a strong possibility that she could die. My boyfriend is very sad about her illness. This seems completely natural, and I want to be supportive. But at the same time, I am uncomfortable with what he has told me about his feelings. Are these feelings romantic? If not, how can I support him?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
He has said, for instance, that he feels tenderness toward her, and that he likes to think he would have gone back overseas where she lives to take care of her in the fall before we met (not to be in a relationship with her) if she had asked for his help. He has also said that he is sad primarily for himself, not for her; I don't know how to fill in the blanks here in a way that doesn't involve her still being an important part of his internal life. He claims not to have romantic feelings for her or any desire to be with her. In fact, he says that the thought of seeing her fills him with dread--because her illness is so painful for him, which makes it sound romantic again. At an earlier point, he said that he primarily felt pity for her. But I don't understand how that can be given his other statements. I feel completely heartless, and I want to support him, but I feel really sad and jealous.
We fought about this yesterday, and he seemed really upset. He doesn't understand why I worry and thinks it may be a basic incompatibility between us that we deal differently with grief, or that I just don't get it because I haven't been there.
Background: We have been together since December. He broke up with his ex the summer of that year. They had been together for 2 and a half years, and had been in a distance relationship at the end. She cheated on him and went radio silent at the end, which left him with a lot of fears about being apart, which we have to be this summer.
Has anyone been in this situation? I would really like to be able to understand these feelings in a way I can accept, and to help him if I can.