We fear infidelity. We try to avoid being wounded by its cruel and unforgiving consequences.
It’s a wound that takes time, tears, and therapy to heal.
Despite our fears, we keep on loving and being vulnerable with our partners. We put our hearts on the table taking the risk to be tormentingly wounded.
A partner’s friendship with an ex puts us in a similarly vulnerable position. That fear starts kicking in before you know it.
Dating a guy who is friends with his ex can be a bit challenging if you let yourself be governed by fear and insecurities.
If he says he’s still friends with his ex, then we surely got some things to consider!
It could be a lover from long ago, someone he slept with, or a spark that dimmed quicker than it lit, whichever the case, it can make your heart tremble a bit.
Before we jump into whether it’s okay if he’s friends with his ex or not, we’ll tackle something else first!
Is it a red flag if a guy is friends with his ex?
Friendship with an ex is often not a red flag.
On the contrary, it can resemble maturity as conscious uncoupling is something that few can achieve successfully.
However, it is a red flag if a guy who is friends with his ex isn’t willing to compromise and reassure his partner.
This is often a delicate situation that takes effort and dedication from the couple to overcome insecurities and instability that might stem from the, sometimes unpleasant, situation.
When would it be ok for him to be friends with his ex?
What’s okay and what’s not within a relationship often depends on the individuals’ morals and personal standards involved within that relationship.
Setting boundaries as to what is acceptable and what isn’t is significant in this situation.
Despite this mostly being up to an individual’s personal morals and standards, there are some generalities when it comes to a partner’s friendship with an ex.
Here’s when would it be ok for him to be friends with his ex:
– They’ve been good friends for a long while.
A good friendship is difficult to bury because of the inconvenience of a romantic partnership.
An ex who’s been a friend in the past is a reasonable friend of the present for a few reasons:
- It didn’t work out romantically;
- They’re part of your partner’s history;
- The friendship is less likely to turn out romantic since it already failed once in that department.
– They have children together.
Parents who don’t speak to each other often set an unhealthy frame of what kindness or love is for the children involved.
This is why it’s more than okay for your boyfriend or husband to be friends with his ex.
Their connection didn’t work out romantically, however, they’re connected by parenthood to their children. This even conditions them both to keep in touch with one another whether they like it or not.
– You don’t feel left out.
There are often cases in which the boyfriend spends too much time with his ex to the point where he makes his current partner feel left out.
That’s unhealthy and in some instances, it can even become toxic.
If your partner’s connection to his ex is rather superficial and you don’t feel neglected or left out because of it, then it’s okay for him to be friends or simply keep in touch with his ex.
– His ex genuinely likes you: you became friends.
As much as it sounds so, it is definitely not weird to be friends with your boyfriend’s ex!
To those who haven’t experienced it, this may seem slightly strange to them.
However, friendship with your boyfriend’s ex often is a sign that there are no traces of romantic feelings between them.
If there were, your partner’s ex wouldn’t be able to simply like their ex’s new partner as their feelings for their ex would get in the way and result in jealousy instead of sympathy.
– You feel secure within the relationship.
The sense of security within the relationship with a partner that’s friends with an ex is of high importance and value.
If you noticed the level of their connection and it doesn’t bother you, it doesn’t cause you discomfort, and it doesn’t become a cause for insecurities, then that’s another okay to it.
This sense of security is often a sign that you’ve considered most things and you’ve come to the realization of the depth of their connection.
– They work together.
Sharing a workplace or running a successful business together makes contact between two people inevitable.
As long as their conversations aren’t the ones reminiscing about the past, then this connection or friendship is absolutely okay and normal.
Their communication is conditioned by an external factor, it’s something they can’t avoid even if they wanted to. So that’s okay, dear reader.
– It’s clear that their connection is platonic.
It’s normal to initially feel skeptical and deeply analyze your partner’s connection with his ex.
After that analysis, you come to a relieving conclusion: there’s not a single bit of romance within their connection.
If it’s obvious and clear that their connection is strictly platonic, then there’s nothing to worry about.
– He’s not skeevy or secretive about the connection with his ex.
Your boyfriend and his ex might have mutual friends, or perhaps have other factors that play into their friendship.
It’s important that you’re aware of these factors, not because you did your intense research, but because your partner told you about it.
If your boyfriend isn’t secretive and on the contrary, he’s very open to answering your questions and reassuring you, then you can sleep in peace.
This doesn’t represent a red or a pink flag in this situation. It’s all about the honesty and trust that you provide each other with.
– He doesn’t hesitate to give you details.
He’s very open to explaining his connection with his ex, to answer any question(s) that you may have.
Usually a defensive behavior about “Why so many questions? Don’t you trust me?!” isn’t a positive signal.
Hence, it’s often a very good sign if he’s open and non-hesitant to give you details about his connection with his ex.
You can tell when he’s lying, and when he’s being hesitant about what he’s telling you.
If you sense sincerity, then you can rest your running thoughts, because if he’d have something to hide, he’d likely get highly defensive about it.
– Their connection is not discreet: Your partner gave you solid reasons as to why they’re still friends.
It’s normal for insecurity to kick in once you find out that your potential partner is remaining friends with his ex.
However, it’s up to you as a couple to address and work on those insecurities together to build a healthy and safe space for one another within the relationship.
Those insecurities fade even more when the connection between your partner and his ex isn’t discreet and when your partner gave you a reasonable explanation as to why he’s still friends with his ex.
When is it not ok for him to be friends with his ex?
The good news is that you’re willing to accept his friendship with his ex, you’re making a compromise.
On the other hand, it is not okay if there’s no compromise from him in this situation.
It’s a delicate position to be in. And again, what’s okay and what’s not can depend a lot on your personal-based morals and standards.
There are generalities to this one as well.
Here’s when it is not ok for him to be friends with his ex:
– Their connection is a cause of your insecurities.
We can often sense when some things are off. If your partner’s friendship with his ex becomes a giving source of insecurities for you, then you’ve got to work this out as a couple.
Perhaps there’s something you sense – a depth to their connection, a spark of romance, or a potential for romance between them.
Either way, if what they have causes you to feel highly insecure, then this is definitely something you both have to work out and solve as a couple.
– He gets defensive and angry when you ask him about his ex.
Defensiveness is often bad news… Pay attention to his approach to you whenever you ask him questions about his ex and their connection.
If he doesn’t show a willingness to explain and get rid of your doubts calmly, then there might be room for concern.
If he expresses anger instead of understanding, then there might be something else going on.
Usually, when a person doesn’t have anything to hide they’re very open to giving details on what they’re being asked about.
– He’s secretive about what they do together.
If you happened to find out that he hung out with his ex and didn’t tell you then it could mean one of the two:
- He didn’t want you to get concerned;
- He doesn’t feel clean about his behavior or feelings about his ex.
A healthy approach is reassuring the partner instead of fueling their insecurities by being secretive.
He’s not maintaining a healthy approach and this is not okay. It’s not healthy, and it’s not beneficial to the trust of the relationship.
– His ex calls him at inappropriate times.
This is about the depth of their connection. An emergency call once in a blue moon is normal.
It becomes concerning when those calls at inappropriate times become frequent and a cause of your fights or insecurities.
This is often a sign of a lack of boundaries between them.
When there are no boundaries, there’s a tendency of feeling free to reach out whenever no matter how inappropriate the timing.
– He compares you to his ex.
It’s common for narcissists to use criticism and comparison as a manipulation tool after they’ve lured you into them.
On the other hand, it might organically come to him to simply compare you to his ex, and this is often due to:
- His feelings for his ex lingering still;
- Doubts on whether he should stick with you or get back to his ex;
- Feeling of guilt;
- A subconscious drive to induce fights that could potentially lead to the end of the relationship;
– It hasn’t been a long while since they broke up.
A breakup takes time to heal.
It takes time to feel stable and know whether you’re ready for a new relationship or not, and it takes time to settle with a new partner without thinking of your previous partner.
If your partner’s breakup with his ex is still fresh, then chances are it was the ‘polite’ way of breaking up: “We’re bad as lovers but we still love one another. Let’s stay friends!”
– He insists on spending time alone with his ex.
Time alone with someone you shared some of the most intimate moments of your life can induce feelings and emotions that relate back to those intimate moments.
It’s okay if they don’t mind company to join them whenever they’re spending time together.
Lack of willingness to compromise, on the other hand, can often be spotted as a red flag in such a situation.
It becomes concerning when they refuse to have their time together disrupted by a third person, be that person you or someone else.
Accepting that partner is friends with his ex: Here’s the right thing to do!
Whether the fact that your partner is friends with his ex is acceptable to you or not, you’ll be left with an even heavier question running around your mind:
How do I deal with my boyfriend being friends with his ex?
The situation can feel tricky and at times, challenging if nothing else.
Here’s the right thing to do when you’re trying to accept that your partner is friends with his ex:
– Talk to him about it: here’s how!
One of the most effective ways to work on your emotional security as a couple is to address the cause of insecurities.
Friendship with an ex isn’t a casual thing that everyone practices.
It’s normal to need more reassurance from your partner, and it’s normal to feel insecure about your partner’s connection with his ex.
This is why you have to talk to him and give a voice to those insecurities. Let your partner be aware of it:
- “Friendship with an ex is still a strange concept to me. I might need some extra reassurance on this one…”
- “I don’t practice friendships with exes, but I’m willing to accept yours. However, I’ll need you to help me understand this a bit more. Why did you choose friendship?”
- “I think Jess is lovely and I trust you, but I’m feeling a bit uneasy about all this. I do understand your connection, though I need you to help me feel secure about your connection with her.”
- “I’m willing to trust you even though this concept has always seemed strange to me. Is it okay if I ask you a couple of questions so that I gain a sense of security about this?”
- “I love you and I respect what you have with Jess. However, I’ve been feeling a bit insecure about your connection with her recently. Would you mind telling me more about your connection with her?”
- “I don’t feel comfortable that you’re friends with Jess, but I’m open to listening and understanding more about your connection with her.”
– Take a pragmatic look at their connection.
To accept the fact that your partner is friends with his ex you’ve got to take a pragmatic look at what they share with one another.
See how they approach one another, how they talk, why they talk to each other, and what’s the depth of their connection.
This can be difficult to attain but try to have a pragmatic look. Pragmatic as in an approach that’s not influenced by insecurities or the thought of “they were lovers once”.
This way, you’ll have a clearer idea of what their connection is built upon.
You can usually tell when two people still have feelings for each other through the way they talk, look, and approach each other.
– Avoid thinking of the worst scenario.
When there are feelings involved it’s often difficult to let the guard down and simply be nice to your ex’s new partner.
This is why his ex’s approach to you will tell you a lot about their relationship.
If his ex is nice to you and you can tell that they like you as a couple then there’s nothing much to worry about.
Having a constant thought of the worst scenario will make it very difficult for you to accept that your partner is friends with his ex.
The worst scenario could be them having feelings for one another still, or him cheating on you with her.
These thoughts are normal, as it can seem bizarre to simply friendzone a person you once loved romantically.
However, if you’re looking for acceptance and peace of mind then try to avoid thinking of the worst scenario.
– Avoid comparison.
There’s a reason or multiple reasons why you’re his partner. And there’s a reason or multiple reasons why they’re his ex and not his partner.
Do what it takes for you to feel secure and confident within yourself.
Comparing yourself to his ex will likely induce insecurity that’ll start an unhealthy chain reaction that will reach the core of your relationship and make it unstable.
This is yet a normal thing to experience in such a situation, however, if you’re looking for ways to accept this the way it is then avoid comparing yourself to his ex.
You work things out together as a couple, and you’re in this together.
You provide love and care for your partner and that should be your reminder that you’re not comparable, you’re his present and that’s what matters.
– Ask for your partner to reassure you if needed.
If you find yourself constantly falling back to the same place of insecurities and doubt then it’s normal to ask your partner to reassure you.
Keep in mind that this is something that you don’t have to work on on your own, because as a responsibility it’s not individual, it’s yours as a couple.
You’re in this as a couple and you shouldn’t carry the entire weight of this situation on your shoulders only.
Talk to your partner, ask him to reassure you when you’re feeling low, and team up with him to grow the relationship stronger.
– You can seek couples therapy if nothing else works out.
If you love your partner so much that you’re willing to do anything it takes to keep the relationship strong then couples therapy can be tremendously helpful if you don’t see anything else working out for this issue.
A therapist will guide you as a couple to healthy ways of reaching an emotional sense of security within the relationship.
It will not only be beneficial to this particular issue, but it’ll be an eye-opening journey for you as a couple.