Still in Touch with Ex
Q: When we first started dating, I was clear with my now-girlfriend that I was still friendly with my ex. She and I are not close, mostly chatting online every few months about superficial stuff. There's nothing romantic there; I'm happy with my girlfriend and my ex has moved on, too. My girlfriend said she was okay with all this initially, but lately has said she's no longer comfortable with the friendship. Nothing seems to reassure her, and I don't think she should control who I talk to. Which of us is right? - Joshua, 25
Dr. Susan: First of all, don't think in terms of who's right. Of course she shouldn't try to control who you talk to, but she feels threatened. What matters here is that continuing to chat with your ex seems to be more important to you than your girlfriend's distress. Either you'll be together long enough for your girlfriend to lose her worry over losing you back to your ex, or you'll eventually value your girlfriend's peace of mind enough to give up your ex altogether. That would show you understand her discomfort, and that even though you don't agree she should be concerned, you are willing to drop this one occasional online relationship because it's not worth upsetting her.
FYI, I still feel annoyed, decades later, when I recall how my then-boyfriend wouldn't stop seeing a female friend of his whom I didn't trust.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.