Mature relationships are all about giving each other the space to develop individual friendships and interests. But what if this involves your partner wanting to catch up with his/her ex every other weekend? Here are a few tips on how you to stay calm and positive even when your partner wants to remain in touch with an ex.
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Focus on the evidence.
First ask yourself if you merely suspect that your partner is still seeing his/her ex or if you have actual proof of your partner’s intentions to remain in touch with him/her. Little things which could look out for are random photos hidden in the drawer or emails between your partner and the ex. It is one thing to keep memorabilia stashed away in a box hidden away in the bottom of a closet or the attic and quite another to find clothes and accessories belonging to the ex lying about at your partner’s place in reasonably accessible places. Also you may find the ex continuing to call your partner on a weekly basis. But what may be more worrisome is finding your partner taking those calls even though he/she keeps saying how annoying they are.
Ask your partner about it.
This is the simplest approach to take if you are puzzled about your partner’s desire to remain in touch with an ex. Once you have chosen the right time and place to have a talk, confide in your partner the cause of your concern. If he/she expresses surprise and insists that he/she has no idea what you are talking about, you can go on to mention the class schedule of the ex which are still lying among his/her papers or the weekly phone calls that go on for more than a quarter of an hour. However be sure to discuss your concerns in a casual and collected manner without appearing to accuse your partner of being unfaithful or a two-timing jerk.
Consider particular circumstances.
Once you bring out your concerns in the open, possibly your partner will see your point of view and come up with a plausible explanation on why he/she may be compelled to remain in touch with an ex. The usual situations when ex-partners continue to meet are because of common work areas. If the ex is your partner’s co-worker or if they share the same office building, it will not be unusual for them to come across each other occasionally. Or if they have been volunteers at the same animal shelter for several years, it may not be easy for them to totally abandon something they believe in because of their personal problems. So before you jump to conclusions about your partner’s fidelity, see if any particular circumstances compel your partner and his/her ex to bump into each other now and then.
No matter how difficult it may be for your partner to completely avoid his/her ex, the issue here is whether the occasional encounters are accidental in nature or whether they are being planned to some extent. Unfortunately where intentions are concerned, the only person who can say anything with certainty is the one whose intentions are involved. And human emotions being what they are, it is never clear where coincidence stops and intention begins. However if you feel uncomfortable about the fact that your partner should want to continue to keep in touch with an ex, by all means you are within your right to ask him/her about it.
Your partner pulls the “we’re just friends” card
Your partner pulls the 'we're just friends' card when you do ask him/her about the continuing phone calls or lunch dates with the ex. Usually this is the silliest excuse that anybody can come up with when confronted with an angry partner. It rarely means what it says and in any case if your partner and his/her ex were actually friends, the latter would be more understanding of your partner’s personal life rather than continuing to barge into it. More often than not however it is a convenient excuse to mask the fact that your partner is enjoying the attention from both sides – having the cake and eating it too.
Decide how much you will accept and no more.
Though every relationship has its own equations, there are certain limits which if crossed, signal trouble. If your partner is talking to the ex on the phone or chatting with him/her online all the time spent apart from you, then you may want to discuss what behavior is not acceptable to you. There may be various reasons for your partner’s continuing involvement with a previous relationship. He/she may not have truly got over it or perhaps the ex wants you to know that the two of them have a history together. Or it may simply mean that your partner does not feel the need to choose between you and the ex and enjoys having his/her ego massaged on both sides.
Go about the situation with patience and a calm head. Remember that the ex may be close to your partner but he/she is still the ex. There must have been a good reason why your partner broke up with him/her and most likely the reason is still valid. Right now you are the most important person in your partner’s life so make use of your position to gently remind your partner of the love and intimacy you share and why it is better to let the ex be where he/she belongs – in the past.
Most people don’t want to be seen as immature or possessive in a relationship. It is even understandable that a partner may wish to be cordial and polite to an ex. However when you find your partner spending too much time with an ex or getting overly involved in his/her matters, then it may be time to take matters in your hand and either steer your partner gently back to the present or perhaps make it known that while two is company, three is definitely crowd.