Men, can you give some insight about your "exes"?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-10-2006
Men, can you give some insight about your "exes"?
Mon, 06-20-2011 - 5:21pm

I realize that this all sounds a little paranoid and obsessive and that I ought to have more self-esteem, but I'm writing on this board so I don't act like an idiot to my boyfriend and start an argument.

So I am sometimes irrationally preoccupied with my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, whom he was with for 5 years. They have lived together and have lived in separate states. He describes her with much disdain and in the beginning of our relationship, he was really pretty charged about what a "jerk" he thought she was. There was some nonsense about her getting some of her stuff back that he felt she had gifted to him when they broke up. I called him out about a month into our R and said "you're getting really wrapped up in this drama, and I'm wondering why you WANT to be engaging so much still." Basically, I said figure it out because I'm sick of it infiltrating our relationship. He got it and thanked me for calling him out. They wrapped up the details and communication stopped.

Anyway, they had split 6 months before we met, but he put himself out there on dating websites about a month before I met him, so I'm assuming he was ready to start dating again. He said that the distance and their opposing values (he wants marriage and babies, she wants nothing to do with it) was the ultimate reason they split. According to him, his friends, and especially his family (whom I adore) - he has never felt anything like what he feels for me, they all want us to get married (he talks about how excited he is to spend his life with me) and in every way, he demonstrates that this is true...

About 2 months ago, she called and said she'd be in town and can he have a cup of coffee? He told me about this, but seemed really conflicted. I asked him what he wanted to get out of seeing her again, given all the nasty things he claims she is, and he said "well, it'd be nice to catch up, but I don't really want to know this person." He then struggled for a few days about this, talking about how he doesn't even really want to be friends, but he feels like why not? They spent 5 years together. She even said I should come! ha. No thanks. Ultimately he didn't go (I left it completely up to him but cringed inside!) and it made me wonder why he struggled so much with the decision. He acted like he was being pressured, but I know he wasn't.

And then, when something from his past jogs his memory, he lets out this really angry rant for a few minutes about her, and what a snot she was and blah blah blah. I stand there and want to hear it like a friend, but I hear it like a girlfriend who wonders where all the anger is still coming from?

Since she was so prominent in the beginning, I haven't been able to really let her go in my mind. I am stuck on this loop of thinking, that he is still hung up on her in some way. He insists that he's not and that I am way more focused on her than he is, which is not at all. He gets annoyed and I completely get it, and then I feel stupid for being so insecure and obsessed.

I am a grown woman who has been married and also in another long term relationship. I understand all the facets of unplugging yourself from a long relationship. I can even reflect on my own lack of emotionally-linked thoughts to exes. And yet, I am completely stuck.

Can anyone give me a little guidance on how to stop this thinking? I know I need to focus more on myself and my life, and to maybe pay attention to why my self-esteem has taken a hit. That seems to be the bigger reason.

Can any guys on here give me any insight into how men think, as they get over a relationship?

Thanks :-/

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-11-1999

I'm a guy, in a similar situation. I dated someone for 2 1/2 years, a toxic relationship, she was abusive, but I was very much in love with her despite the fact that at the end she threw me under the bus in a really vicious manor. I have been in a new relationship for about 2 1/2 years, and had a lot of anger about the past one in the beginning that has been fading with time. My current SO has been very patient.

For the most part your guy's behavior is consistent, guys do feel a lot more anger during breakups than woman do, it's a lot more of a blow to the pride for men to be dumped. The only thing I find unusual in what you write was his uncertainty about meeting her. The woman I was involved with showed up in the supermarket I shop in about a month ago with her fellow, possibly her now husband. I suspect she has heard that I'm in a relationship as well, we turned into the opposite ends of the aisle, and I could see her smiling and looking like she wanted to talk. I didn't want any part of it though and to make my point walked right by her, staring straight ahead, I didn't look at her or acknowledge her in any way and turned out of the aisle. I'm surprised he might want to meet up with her unless she didn't give him closure, my ex didn't and so it took a long time for me to get over it.

There is a fine line between love and hate. What I see in this are decisions YOU have to make. Any relationship is a gamble, putting oneself out there involves risk. It sounds like YOU aren't fully engaged in this relationship because it seems what you are most concerned with is getting out of the relationship before he can dump you. If that is your concern, it won't work, my ex spent the whole relationship putting me under the microscope because an ex husband had dumped her and she was concerned with avoiding it a second time. It's one of the reasons the relationship failed.

Is this something you want? If yes, give yourself, don't worry about what might happen, and you may find his anger and obsession with her will fade. That's what happened with me.


Cynic: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.---Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-10-2006

Thanks so much for your response...and for not judging the senseless behavior I have described about myself.

You reminded me of another detail to his uncertaintly about meeting her...I remember now that the only thing he was considering as a reason TO go to coffee was for some closure. The details around their break-up were pretty bad. They had to put their dog down for behavioral reasons, the dog died in his arms, and the next day she dumped him. He felt really angry that she would end the relationship (even though they both knew it was over) so close to this other very traumatic event. Hearing your story makes me realize that his anger is very justified, and whatever reminds him of her "brattiness" is likely to open that same wound. So patience, instead of self-indulgent insecurity may be the remedy for me.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-22-2007

I think dablacksox gave you some great insights.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-11-1999

"You reminded me of another detail to his uncertainty about meeting her...I remember now that the only thing he was considering as a reason TO go to coffee was for some closure."

That will fade with time. In my case I was furious with my ex for throwing me under the bus with what people have called one of the most vicious emails they've ever seen. Now, 2 1/2 years later, I hope I never see her again. Anything that could have been said should have been said 2 1/2 years ago, not now. Hopefully your guy will come to feel the same way, but it takes time. It's the journey, not the destination.

I might feel prickly and confused for a moment if I was in his shoes.

I felt that way when I saw my ex in the supermarket, she still has some sort of weird effect on me. It's one of the reasons I don't ever want to see her again. It's natural, especially where there was great passion. At least this shows that he is capable of great passion.

Your next impression of me not being fully in this relationship is not really accurate.

That's OK, it was kind of a rhetorical question to get you thinking about what you have and where you are.

That's the only way to love, even if I lose.

That's a good life plan. The alternative is loneliness and bitterness.

He said he got to a point where he realized he didn't like who she was as a person, and that everything I am, he adores and values and wants.

Good to hear.

since my life is much more about balance and healing (I am a massage therapist). 

Yikes! My ex is as well. Get thee behind me, Satan! :-p (Just kidding)


Cynic: a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.---Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.

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Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010

I am male and read thru the missives.