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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Perplexed By Ex

Dear Mistress Maeve,

I've been dating a guy for about a month. I'm a total commitment-phobe, so I'm shocked to feel giddy and optimistic over this guy. We just "click," as they say.

I'm liking everything he's bringing to the table, except for one thing. I can't quite wrap my mind around his relationship with his ex. From what I gather, they were together about a year before she dumped him (not his choice to leave). Since then, he has continued to help her with household projects and errands when her car is in the shop. I initially thought this was just him being nice, but I recently found out that he paid a utility bill for her when she was unable to make a payment. Uh, really? If we're going to be in a relationship, that's just too much.

All these things put together are raising some major red flags for me. Not having had many relationships, I have no idea what the rules are for how exes should interact.

Thanks for the advice,
Perplexed by Ex


Dear Perplexed,

Unfortunately, you won't find a rule book for dealing with exes. However, you already have your best reference guide: your gut. If your psychic receptors are telling you that he's not finished with his ex, you're probably right.

It sounds like his ex no longer wanted the responsibility of being in a relationship but still wants to reap the benefits of having a boyfriend. Hey, as long as he's willing to be her whipping boy, why should she stop using him?

Before you commit further to this guy, have a conversation with him about his ex. As uncomfortable as it may be, you must be honest about your feelings. While some people have no problem with partners who remain close to exes, he has clearly crossed a line for you by paying one of her bills, and it's important that you let him know that. Tell him that, while you appreciate his kindness toward his ex, if he wants to be in a relationship with you, he'll need to work with you to find an agreeable level of interaction with her.

Hear what he has to say for himself. If you're still seeing red flags, it may be time to back off a bit. Perhaps if he sees what he's missing, he'll stop being his ex’s doormat.


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