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Parallax - Advice

May 19, 2003

Old bed buddy?

Dear Conversely,

Ask us a Question!I am twenty-five and my boyfriend is twenty-three. We've been together for three months and love each other. He just graduated from college last year. During his last two years of college, he and his female roommate were best friends and lovers. Eventually they decided not to sleep together anymore, to save their friendship. Although we live miles away from this former roommate, I feel like she is next door, and it's disturbing me. She writes him letters about how she feels abandoned in their friendship and they have hour-long fights on the phone about his lack of friendship. I can sympathize with her because I know what it's like to have a friend ignore you when he's caught up in a new relationship, but I also feel wary. They say 'I love you' to each other on the phone (in front of me) and although he says all his friends say that, I feel it's weird to say it to your ex-lover in front of your current girlfriend. She is coming here to visit and I am nervous. How do I deal with the jealousy I feel? Do you think his relationship with her will cause problems down the road or am I overreacting? Email to a Friend

Her view:

Dear Disturbed,

The former relationship will only cause you the problems that you create. Your guy most likely has no interest in this relationship and probably never will—with or without you included in the analysis. Having said that, the ex's presence is a nuisance and the nuisance factor will only heighten with little visits and constant calls. Unfortunately, keeping exes around simply engenders negative effects in new relationships.

The good sign is that your boyfriend is not hiding this relationship to any extent.

Honesty aside, you have every right to ask your boyfriend to tone it down with his ex-roommate, lover...whatever. He should have a talk with her and explain that keeping her around is a problem for his new relationship and if she is such as great friend, she'll understand.

The extent to which you push this topic should be directly proportional to the extent of upset you are experiencing. If it bothers you a great deal you should have it out and get it resolved. No doubt your boyfriend would be highly uncomfortable if you were saying 'I love you' to some ex-lover and squabbling over household issues.

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His view:

Dear Disturbed,

This doesn't seem like an overreaction to me.

Of all the possible situations in which it would be best not to remain friends with your ex, this is one of the top five. He probably doesn't realize this. He is playing the noble friend, and he may have very confused feelings about her—to say the least. But it is clear that she is using the 'let's stay friends' excuse to win him back.

If he can't see that she's not over him, you may need to point this out. It could backfire on you: He may chalk it up to jealousy on your part.

But if you don't—and he keeps encouraging her—it's going to be a very bumpy ride.

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