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Boyfriend Doesn't Want to Hear About Ex

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Dear John, After a long marriage to a drug addict, I found the courage to leave. Although I am no longer in love with him, I do wish him all the best, just without me in the picture. My grown daughter resents my leaving. My grown son, however, is trying to stay connected to both of us.

I love both of them very much, and, of course, I still have some feelings for their father after 20 years of marriage. Now I'm finally happy, in love with a wonderful man, whom I plan to marry soon. The problem is that whenever my ex's name is mentioned, Erik's mood changes. He doesn't want to hear my ex's name, and he starts telling me to choose. I don't understand where this is all coming from! Erik would prefer that I never talk about my ex, almost like he never existed. How can I do this after so many years? I hope to someday have a civil relationship with my ex. I'd also like to reach a point in which we could finally have some closure and set boundaries for a friendship. Is it right for Erik to say, "Choose?" —Need to Know, in St. George, Utah

Dear Need to Know, A Martian lives to fix the problems of his Venusian love. In your case, the biggest issue you have is something that he will never be able to repair for you: The closure you need in your past relationship.

From now on, don't talk to Erik about that issue. He's heard enough. Instead, talk to a friend who is willing to listen. Better yet, consider discussing the situation with a counselor. You can find one who is knowledgeable about substance abuse issues through a variety of non-profit organizations.

You did what you could. Now it is time to move on with a wonderful man who loves and cherishes you. Look ahead, not backward. In the long run, no one — not even your children — will blame you for taking your life in a new direction.

Dear John, I have been divorced for 20 years, and only recently did I decide to date again. I am 60 and the man I love is 64. We are not youngsters; however, we are both romantic and young at heart.

The problem: I am looking for a committed partner who is willing to share this life, although not necessarily in marriage. On the other hand, he has been married three times and wants us to just enjoy each other whenever we can, without any heavy commitment. Because of this difference of opinion, I have "ended it" half a dozen times. After awhile, being a sensible woman who realizes that life is short, I cave in, thinking, "Why should I not take advantage of a good thing, even if it isn't perfect?" But inevitably, the commitment problem flares up again. —Unsure, in Tulsa, Okla.

Dear Unsure,

Whether you're 16, 36 or 60, there are no certainties in life, so if you have indeed found a relationship that makes you happy, I recommend that you enjoy your time together and count every minute of it as a blessing — even if it comes with no long-term promises and no strings attached. However, if you need commitment in order to be happy, face up to the fact that you won't get commitment from him and look for it elsewhere. There is no guarantee that you will find it, but you'll enjoy the discovery process.

2013 John Gray's Mars Venus Advice. Distributed by Creators Syndicate. John Gray is the author of "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus." If you have a question, write John in care of this newspaper, or by email at: www.marsvenus.com. All questions are kept anonymous, and will be paraphrased.



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
This would depend on how often you mention the ex- I have always been of the opinion that we shouldn't erase parts of our past, and I mention exes candidly to bf, as he does to me. BUT mentioning one too early, too frequently, can be irritating and a red flag to a potential relationship. I did have a guy more or less run the other way after a first date that I thought had been going well- the truth was, I still wasn't over my ex, and think I mentioned him one too many times! Examine how often you mention this guy, and the way you mention him, and figure out how you'd feel if it were Erik talking about an ex that way.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jers
Sun May 5, 2013 7:08 AM
I agree there's a red flag, but I think it's waving around the new guy. It's one thing to constantly mention an ex-boyfriend you shared a year with. It's quite another thing if you married 20 years to someone and have children together. There's just no way to avoid mentioning him. If the new boyfriend doesn't want to hear about the ex AT ALL, I think he sounds seriously jealous and controlling. LW needs to take a good look at why she picks the men she does.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Carla
Sun May 5, 2013 11:18 AM
I'm with Carla on this one. While I do, in general, agree that there is such a thing as mentioning an ex too early and/or too often, there is something wrong when a topic becomes verboten, as John Gray is suggesting. This isn't some guy the LW dated for a year or even lived with for five years. This is the man she was married to for 20 years and raised two children with. In all likelihood, she spent nearly her entire adult life with this person -- indeed, she may well have lived with this man longer than she lived with her own parents! Gray's advice to just never talk about him again is ridiculous.

Now, context certainly is important. If you are still actually pining for your ex emotionally, even though intellectually you know you are better off without him, then Erik may well have very good reason for telling you to choose when you bring up your ex. So, take a really honest look at whether you are truly "over" your ex or not. If you aren't, you aren't ready to marry Erik. If you are, then the problem lies with Erik, not you -- but that doesn't necessarily mean you can't be part of the solution to the problem.

So, first, take that honest look at your feelings for your ex. Assuming that what you find is, "I really am over him. I talk about him occasionally because obviously he was a big part of my life for a huge chunk of my adult lifetime," then your next step is to sit Erik down and ask him what's going on, and in the process of that discussion, be sure to tell him that you already HAVE chosen, twice, in fact. First you chose to leave. Then you chose to love Erik, and you would go right on choosing Erik over and over again, only there's no need to do so. If he is able to grasp that your ex is always going to be an important (and, indeed, defining) part of your past that makes you who are today, and who you are today loves Erik, then you two have a chance. If, however, he keeps up with the "you have to choose" bit, then I'm with Carla that Erik is a jealous and controlling man, and you need to get out of that relationship -- and then perhaps seek professional help figuring out why you choose men who, for one reason or another, are not good for you.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Lisa
Tue May 7, 2013 11:04 AM
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