How To Deal When It Comes To Your S.O.'s Ex

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TheOldFlameThatCan'tBe Extinguished_slide1_maddyIllustrated by Madelyn Somers.
Dear Miss Information,

I have been living with my boyfriend for the past two years. When we started our relationship, he told me about a friend of his, another woman who lives in a different country, and he basically told me that he’d always been in love with her, since he first laid eyes on her when she was quite young. He also kept telling me how sexy she is/was, and that she’s a junkie mom, but that she can handle things. He also told me that she has always been in love with him, but they never got together except for one night.

I didn’t perceive her as a threat, but also made it clear that if we were going to be lovers, then he couldn’t fly over and visit her, and told him to make that clear to her. They’d been friends for years, and she had given him the clear to go on a first date with me, telling him to have fun. In the ensuing weeks and months, she would phone him frequently and make it very clear that she still wanted him and she often still sends texts proclaiming her love for him. Which now, two years later, bothers me very, very much, I’m sorry to say. I’ve made it clear for my boyfriend several times that this kind of texting has to stop, since I’m not interested in having my man’s phone riddled with love letters from another woman. I don’t mind him having girl friends, as long as it is a normal boy/girl friendship, which in my eyes lack frequent love declarations. We’ve gotten into several arguments over this, and my boyfriend gets very defensive and aggressive — he quickly resorts to name-calling when we argue, and these arguments are no different.

Tonight, she texted my boyfriend, saying, “I’ve booked a flight in August, without my kids ;),” and although I try not to let this get to me, I can’t help but feel ignored in all this. It sounds like a booty call to me. She hasn’t spoken with him more than two or three times in these past two years (because he won’t answer her calls), and I’ve been waiting for her persistence to wane, but it doesn’t. We’re in our thirties and forties. It feels like too much of a horror-comedy for something like this to be happening at this stage in my life.

—Betrayed or Being Bitchy?

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Dear Betrayed,

Golly, has it really taken two years of living with this guy to get fed up with hearing about the exotic one-who-got-away? I’m presuming your boyfriend has some great qualities and is smokin’ hot, because otherwise I don’t get why you’d stay with an aggressive name-caller whose old flame can’t be extinguished. But, hey, different strokes for different folks. I’m also guessing you know about these texts because he’s telling you, which is a big point in his favor, and not because you’re snooping, because — say it with me: SNOOPING. IS. BAD.

You’ve exhibited impressive patience, trust, and restraint about this. It’s now time for an ultimatum, and you should know by now that I almost never recommend an ultimatum. If your boyfriend can’t make it clear to this woman for once and for all, and that if she’s dead-set on coming to town she should not plan on staying with you two, and that if she spends time with him while she’s visiting it will be the three of you going out to dinner somewhere public and neutral, and that under no circumstances will they be having sex or anything resembling it, then I say get the hell out of there and leave the bastard in peace with this super-sexy junkie mom. It’s disturbing that he tells you about how sexy she is, and in the same breath exhibits no reservations about the fact that she’s got a drug problem and is raising children around it. If anything should be enough to cancel out sex appeal oozing from someone’s every pore, it’s the knowledge that they’re selfish enough to raise their children in an unsafe situation.

If, for whatever reason, keeping this woman in his life is more important to him than making sure you feel loved and respected, shut it down. You’re too old for this shit. You were born too old for this shit, baby.

Next: What To Do When Your Best Friend Is In Love With You

This post was authored by Sarah Jaffe.
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