Has anyone had to deal with obsessive, intrusive ex-girlfriends?
October 2, 2017 3:11 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had to deal with obsessive, possessive ex-girlfriends. in their relationship`?

My husband has two ex girlfriends who he dated before me, he was married to neither and they do not have any children in common.They are both extremely possessive of him and are in what I and several therapists believe to be a weird, co dependant realtionship with him. They have both been appallingly rude to me which my husband excuses. Every time we have an argument, he won't speak to me, he will run to his first girlfriend and they gleefully bitch behind my back. He sneaks off to see both of them and I had no idea just much time he was spending on the phone and in person with both of them. This is not sexual, more of an attention seeking exercise. He knows that i dislike both them and their behaviours towards me. We have recently had some serious problems in our marriage and his ex-girlfriend has been round at our home as soon as my back is turned "consoling" my husband, bitching about me and telling his behaviour is fine and I should just " stop whining" Has anyone else had to put up with meddling ex girlfriends like this?I have nothing against being amicable with exes but this is actually seriously intrusive, inappropriate and damaging my relationship.Any advice would be welcome.
posted by hitchcockblonde to Human Relations (33 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The problem isn't the ex-girlfriends. The problem is your husband.
posted by roolya_boolya at 3:23 AM on October 2, 2017 [282 favorites]

I was literally about to say the same thing as roolya_boolya. Sorry.
posted by KateViolet at 3:24 AM on October 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

Well...you know that none of this would matter if your husband acted like a normal, adult person, right? You realise you have a husband-problem, not an ex-girlfriend problem?

I tell you this to emphasize how absolutely not-normal his behaviour is. Nobody runs off to two (!) ex-gfs, to bitch about his wife.

You call them obsessive as if they're delusional. But they aren't. They're reacting to him in a way that is more or less in line with his behaviour (though not healthy, ethical or appropriate). He seeks them out to share their deep emotional connection whenever you inconvenience him; they reciprocate. He makes himself feel better by seeking allies in putting you down. They are his allies.

You're being treated shabbily by him. He doesn't love you. A man who loves you would never in a million years act like that (would you act like that?!)

I don't know why they, or you, put up with his manipulation.
The only way to make it stop is to get rid of him.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:26 AM on October 2, 2017 [53 favorites]

Why do you think they're his ex girlfriends? He's still with them! Everything you write seems to indicate he's still in relationships (even if they are only emotional) with both of them. He's not even bothering to do it behind your back, he's doing it right in front of you. Tell him either he gets rid of them or you get rid of him. Then follow through. The nerve of this guy is jaw dropping.
posted by Jubey at 3:33 AM on October 2, 2017 [18 favorites]

Oh, I'm so sorry. Your husband seems to be some stripe of narcissist, he is leading them on much like he is also leading you on. You probably already know this on some level. You probably also know its time to get out. His behavior is pathological and is no reflection on you.
posted by stormygrey at 4:00 AM on October 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

These women didn't betray you because they don't owe you loyalty and love; it's your husband who does. If you somehow even managed to got rid of them, you'd still have a man who betrayed you.
I empathize because it's so human to want to blame them for interfering, and to feel that if they wouldn't come around and interfere you could work things out without their influence. But he's the one who has broken vows to you by acting this way.
posted by flourpot at 5:06 AM on October 2, 2017 [15 favorites]

I think your husband should have an answer to the following question: Given his relationship with current exes, how long after the two of you are separated / divorced, does he think it is appropriate for him to seek your council on his new relationships and start valuing you and your opinion of this behavior?
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:07 AM on October 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

Woah woah woah woah WOAH! This is not a problem of psycho ex-girlfriends. This is a problem of an immature husband using inappropriate ways of punishing you during arguments.

Next time any of them contact him, he needs to say In Your Presence “Our friendship isn’t appropriate anymore, it’s negatively effecting my marriage that I need to work on with my wife. Please don’t contact me anymore.” And then he needs to not contact them anymore.

And if he doesn’t agree to that or tries to gaslight you into thinking this is your own fault then you need to get a therapist and your divorce papers in order.
posted by like_neon at 5:37 AM on October 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

This sounds like narcissistic triangulation. See also.
posted by jazzbaby at 6:04 AM on October 2, 2017 [14 favorites]

Yes, I have had to deal with this. And I recognised that the ex-girlfriend and in-laws were responding to my husband's lies (which absolutely portrayed me as a bitch and him as a victim). I could not control the lies that group was telling about me. I could not control my husband from worsening a shitty situation with his atrocious behaviour and triangulation. I could control my own behaviour.

Reader, I dumped him. I am so absolutely fucking happy.
posted by saucysault at 6:05 AM on October 2, 2017 [70 favorites]

Oh boy. Having been there, I know how easy it is to blame the ex-GFs but they wouldn't be able to do any of that without your husband's agreement. I suspect this isn't the only way your husband is treating you badly. I'm very sorry to tell you this will only get worse if you stay, but I'm very happy to tell you that it gets much better after you leave and your head isn't getting spun around all the time. It may be helpful to learn as much as you can about narcissism. I suspect a lot of it will feel eerily familiar.
posted by bighappyhairydog at 6:35 AM on October 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

Divorce him. Next time marry a grown-up.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:44 AM on October 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Nthing the "it's not them, it's him" refrain. I had an ex who had this kind of rapport online with one of his exes in another state while we were together. When we broke up, guess where he moved? Yup. Does she kind of suck too in this situation? Sure. But she was never the real problem.

If he's willing to truly see how inappropriate these relationship dynamics are and commits to working on addressing whatever is driving him to behave this way, that's one thing. If he tries to hand wave this away as being totally normal and YOU'RE the one who's being irrational, I'd seriously consider some soul searching about your next steps and whether or not they can or should include your husband. Good luck.
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:47 AM on October 2, 2017

My spouse has never told me to "stop whining". It would be a huge deal in our relationship if that happened one time. If it happened routinely, I would end the relationship.

I don't say this to shame you, but to give you context for what others see as the rules for a respectful, loving relationship.
posted by latkes at 7:50 AM on October 2, 2017 [10 favorites]

As someone on their second marriage, I will tell you this: my first husband pulled similar behavior with me. His ex was not the problem (as much as I thought it was at the time). I really feel for you. Either he stops these shenanigans or he loses you. Good luck - you aren't crazy or whining.
posted by pammeke at 8:23 AM on October 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have a partner with an ex with mental health problems who he does have a (grown) kid with. And he had some bad patterns with her like spending their "anniversary" together even when we were first dating, that sort of thing. I said it wasn't okay. That he needed ot be on Team Us now and that I understood this would be complicated but there needed to be pretty clear lines of "This is how I behave with my partner and this is how I behave with not-my-partner" that I would expect. And it was a choice he had and it was a choice he made. He got some boundaries. He made her aware of them. She LOST HER SHIT a few times (many times it was exhausting) but that was on her and not on us. My partner did not make that our problem he made that his problem which he had to manage, with her. And when we got into arguments he dealt with that with his own therapist and/or friends and did not turn to her for consolation because it would have been totally inappropriate!

Putting this here just to say that sometimes it's helpful to get a model in your head of what "normal" would look like so you can see how far what you are experiencing diverges from that. These exes may be terrible people or not, but your husband's behavior with them is definitely what I would put in a "not ok" category, not treating you like the primary, chosen, partner and he's the one you need to work this out with.
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 AM on October 2, 2017 [8 favorites]

Most men I know personally think their relationship problems are meant to be private, and find it incredibly insulting to learn that anybody outside their relationship even knows about it. Part of the stereotype of the husband who won't go to counseling is about this I think.

I think that might be because most men I know consider the happiness of their partner to be important and they don't want anyone to know if they failed to make their partner happy. (There's issues with expecting to be able to make another person happy, of course. But it is a normal desire within a healthy relationship.)

Your husband is stuck in 7th grade.
posted by crunchy potato at 9:18 AM on October 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

your husband is 100% the problem here. what he's doing is extremely messed up. whether the exes are, in fact, meddling/obsessive/whatever is kind of beside the point.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:31 AM on October 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

In case it helps to hear basically the same thing in a different way - while the ex-girlfriends are behaving badly, the real problem is your husband's actions.

They have both been appallingly rude to me which my husband excuses. Every time we have an argument, he won't speak to me, he will run to his first girlfriend and they gleefully bitch behind my back. He sneaks off to see both of them . . .

Your husband is not acting like your partner or like someone who has your back. The ex-girlfriends encourage this behavior, but your husband is responsible for his own actions.
posted by insectosaurus at 9:40 AM on October 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

I am going to offer a perspective on this that I have not seen from others in this thread. It might be applicable to your situation or it might not, but I have decided to post it because I think that Ask benefits from a variety of experiences.

I have been a legal adult for twenty years, and during that time I have had five ex-[gender]friends (my current fiancée and I have been in a relationship for six years). I am close friends with three of those five exes. One of them will be officiating my wedding; the other two will be in my wedding party.

During previous troubled relationships, I have gone to each of those exes to talk about the difficulties that I was having, and they have done the same with me. I do not regret that at all; we have given each other good, caring advice. We did not always take the good advice that we were give, but we have all acknowledged that the advice has been good (even if only in hindsight). Sometimes it took months or years of an ex pointing out that abuse was in fact abuse and that an untenable situation was in fact an untenable situation, but we all eventually got to the point where we recognized that the ex in question was more concerned with our well-being than they were with our maintaining a relationship for the sake of maintaining a relationship.

I do not see your husband talking to an ex who he suspects will side with him against you as being better or worse than you coming to a website to talk to a bunch of strangers that you suspect will side with you against him. If the advice that you get here is useful to you, then you should do it. If the advice that he gets from his exes is useful to him, then he should do that.

The thing that all of the situations where my exes and I talked about our partners shared in common is that our relationships were wrong for us (often to the point where they put us in danger, occasionally to the point where that danger brought us to injury). Your relationship is in trouble, and if your husband had never spoken to any of his exes it would still very likely be in trouble. Maybe that is something that the two of you can fix together. Maybe it cannot be fixed. Either way, his relationships with the exes strike me as more of a symptom than a cause.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:27 AM on October 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

"Every time we have an argument, he won't speak to me, he will run to his first girlfriend and they gleefully bitch behind my back. He sneaks off to see both of them and I had no idea just much time he was spending on the phone and in person with both of them."

Uh... what?
posted by GiveUpNed at 10:47 AM on October 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

They have both been appallingly rude to me which my husband excuses. Every time we have an argument, he won't speak to me, he will run to his first girlfriend and they gleefully bitch behind my back. He sneaks off to see both of them . . .

They disrespect you because he disrespects you. I agree with others, the problem is him.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:50 AM on October 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Jesus Christ divorce this fool. Divorce him now before there are kids in the mix. Please.

(Oh by the way do you want to know what my husband did when I asked him to not maintain a friendship with an ex gf who disliked me and would have liked to see our relationship fail? He told her that he couldn't be her friend anymore because it wasn't appropriate and that was the end of it.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:53 AM on October 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

Every time we have an argument, he won't speak to me, he will run to his first girlfriend and they gleefully bitch behind my back.

A healthy marriage is two people who have formed a supportive, loving team to work together towards common goals. In healthy marriages both partners value that team and do not seek to undermine it from outside.

This is not healthy relationship behavior. It is not respectful to you or your marriage. Nor is it something you should tolerate or put up with. In a healthy relationship, people talk out their problems with each other and try to work on creating solutions to the things that are bothering them. They don't run to outsiders to complain instead.

As many people have said above, the problem is your husband, not the girlfriends. They are a symptom of a larger problem. And while your initial solution needs to include getting him to cut them off, your long-term solution really needs to examine whether he on a team with you. Because right now, he sure doesn't appear to be. He is hiding things from you. That's also a serious problem.

Partners may complain about each other to their friends. It happens. It can even be a positive thing -- to give them an outside perspective. But if that complaining doesn't result in friendly advice and interferes with healing your marriage, then that's a fundamental problem which needs to be addressed.

Good luck.
posted by zarq at 10:56 AM on October 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

As someone who's been on both sides of something like this in relationships, I can say that 1. no one, whether meddlesome or otherwise, can make your husband give them his attention without his complicity and 2. as Parasite Unseen mentions, complaining to exes or other friends is not the type of thing I'd generally want to do in a relationship where things are going well, but I have gone there in relationships when things really were problematic. What I have not done is rub it in a partner's face that I was doing so—I'm not sure whether that's better or worse. It's better perhaps in the sense that you know exactly who he's talking to about you, but worse in the sense that A. all of these other dynamics involving jealousy and perhaps the narcissistic triangulation mentioned above come into play, B. he doesn't seem concerned that this is upsetting to you, and C. it seems he is trying to make you think it's about other women being unable to control themselves in wanting to talk to him and/or snub you, rather than about his choosing not to control himself and have some discretion regarding info about you and your relationship.

Also, was he engaged in this pattern of behavior before you were married? It's unclear whether this was something you just accepted for a time and then came to realize was a bad pattern or something that only started happening more or getting worse after you got married. Can you clarify? Either way, major bad vibes here.
posted by limeonaire at 11:43 AM on October 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Every time we have an argument, he won't speak to me, he will run to his first girlfriend and they gleefully bitch behind my back. He sneaks off to see both of them and I had no idea just much time he was spending on the phone and in person with both of them...This is not sexual...his ex-girlfriend has been round at our home as soon as my back is turned "consoling" my husband...

Jubey is correct that your husband has two girlfriends, not two exes. Not that it makes a difference, but I would seriously question whether or not he's having sexual relationships with them as well as the emotional triangulation. My money is on him cheating on you with one or both of them, I'm sorry to say. This isn't someone you can reliably have a partnership with.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:42 PM on October 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

Sorry that you are in a shitty relationship and that your husband is an asshole who is cheating on you. I don't know you but you deserve better. Divorce.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:12 PM on October 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry guys I just came back to this post , Firstly Thank you all so much for replying and for your advice -i wasn't expecting people to side with me against him, it really was a genuine question.My husband did indeed gaslight me completely into believing this was completely normal.I was aware of both his exes but not the extent to which he was seeing them or speaking with them. He wasn't having a sexual relationship with either of them -that wasn't his thing, it was much more the attention and the sneaking around that he seemed to get off on.

He is indeed a complete narcissist I made us go and see a couples therapist, we saw seven-they all had to be women, I think my husband thought they would be easier to manipulate and whenever any of them questioned or challenged him,, he would refuse to see the therapist and we would have to find another, the consensus was that he was a major narcisscist with sociopathiic tendencies, except for my own therapist who just flat out called him a pyschopath. Things escalated into a truly horrendous situation that turned both physically and verbally abusive and completely insane. I just wish I'd seen the big red flags sooner.

I told him completely outright that i would never be part of his sick little harem and if he had any problems with a future partner , to grow a pair, talk to his partner, get a couples therapist or find a therapist for himself but that i wasn't ever going to do that -I thought it was disgusting and disloyal.

The problem is when you are being gaslighted like that makes you question everything and second guess yourself especially if you are continually being told you are too "sensitive" "hysterical"or " overreacting" -yes, if anyone says those words to me, there will be red flags! I think it's also very easy to be dragged into the role of the "cool" wife or girlfriend, so he's in touch with exes -ok, I just had no idea of the extent of it.

The good thing is that I finally got divorced last Friday after two years of trying to hammer out a deal and him constantly threatening and trying to control me over money and terms. I never have to see him again but I'm left trying to figure things out, when tings started to go really wrong and when I should have noticed.I feel like such a fool.

Thank you all for taking the time to reply.
posted by hitchcockblonde at 3:45 AM on October 5, 2017 [10 favorites]

Wait, you were worrying about his ex-girlfriends while you were in the middle of getting divorced?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:00 PM on October 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

Um, that's a little detail that kind of changes everything. If you were trying to run off his ex girlfriend the day before you got divorced, (and you've just said you have plans of never seeing him again) he's not the one who has the issue letting go here...
posted by Jubey at 4:18 PM on October 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

The good thing is that I finally got divorced last Friday

This is a seriously buried lede.
posted by jessamyn at 8:14 PM on October 5, 2017 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: No, I wasn't trying to "run off" his ex-girlfriends while I was getting divorced I had much bigger things to worry about by then.As I said, I have just been looking back and asking myself what happened ,when I should have recognized the signs so I never make the same mistakes again-I've been going over in my head all the things In was told were" normal" I wanted to know if anyone else had dealt with this situation and how did they do it.
If I had questioned things sooner I might have avoided so much grief.The word "narciissist" never came up until we saw /I saw therapists and I dismissed a lot of signs. This is the whole point of tapping into the hive mind and getting people's opinions and experiences -I just wish I'd done it sooner but if anyone I date in the future has obsessive secretive relationships with exes and puts their feelings and concerns above mine -you can bet that I am not going to accept that that is normal. My issue not one of not letting go -it is of trying to figure out what went wrong and when and trying to recognise signs earlier. The situation escalated to one of such violence and psychopathic behaviour that I didn't see coming and I'm trying to piece it all together and thinking when should I have known? when should I have run?
I am absolutely terrified of dating again and I simply don't trust myself at the moment.So no, not a question of "running off " other women or a problem of " letting go" just a question about the situation.
So Thank you again to the people who took the time to provide constructive advice and not to snipe.
posted by hitchcockblonde at 2:04 AM on October 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

For future reference, eking out information a bit at a time makes it extra difficult for people to give you help, which is the only reason we are here. Even the timeline of your updates are confusing, it was written in such a way that I and other people were given completely the wrong impression, plus you didn't even bother mentioning you were divorced until the end! Trust me, I'm not "sniping", that's "you".
posted by Jubey at 4:36 PM on October 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

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