My Girlfriend is Hiding Our Relationship From Her Ex.
J, a Navy officer, asks:
So here’s the situation. I’ve been with this girl for a little over a year and a half. We’ve broken up a few times, but for the most part, it seems like we’re together for the long run.
So before her and I met, she hooked up with a guy named X. They stopped talking because he got into a relationship, which happened before her and I got serious.
About a month ago, he messages her this long essay on why he stopped talking to her and that he never wanted to hurt her yadda yadda yadda.
And they kept talking. So I asked her to not talk to him because it makes me uncomfortable. She continued. Today is the third time I told her to not talk to him. Immediately she turns it on me digging up old stuff. I figure out that it was more than just a one night stand and they had feelings for each other. And she’s going all “its my life, you can’t tell me who i can and can’t talk to.” Which I agree with, but I told her it hurts me that she would lie about him, not tell him we’ve been together for the last year and a half, and continue talking to him after I’ve asked her twice.
So I give her an ultimatum to either not talk to him, or we break up for good. So we’re in a big fight rn.
Did i overreact? Am I in the wrong here and I should just let this go? What should I do?
Ultimatums aren’t helpful
OK, thanks for sharing all that with me. I think I get the picture. Your ultimatum was probably not the best thing to do, but I understand what you were trying to achieve by it. I would recommend taking back the ultimatum and diving into a slightly different conversation with her about it. It’s FINE for you to have a boundary about your partner in regards to other people and past lovers. That’s totally fine. It’s also fine for her to talk to whoever she wants to talk to. Putting a restriction on her like a rule is indicative of ownership, and you don’t own her.
An empowering alternative
That said, a slightly different take is both empowering to you and honoring her sovereignty/freedom For example, you can set a boundary that is like an ultimatum, but slightly different. For example you take an approach like this instead:
It makes me feel really bad if you talk to your past lover and don’t tell him honestly about our relationship status, and it makes me feel like I can’t trust you. So for me, I realized that I have a boundary. If we are going to be in relationship like we’ve been and you are going to continue to talk to your ex lover, I need you to tell him about our relationship and be honest with him about where we stand and who we are to each other. I don’t want to be possessive here to tell you who you can talk to. I’m sorry I did that. I shouldn’t have. I don’t own you, and I want you to be free to talk to whoever you want to ttalk to, including past lovers, but if you want to be with me, I need you to respect that I need your past lovers to know honestly about who you and I are to each other and that we’re in a relationship together. If you hide it or lie about it that makes me feel like you are ashamed of us and don’t want to be together, and I don’t want to be in a relationship like that.
It’s about being transparent and honest
It’s about being transparent about what is coming up for you and telling her where your line is, but without making it an ultimatum. i.e. you’ll be fine if she doesn’t want to meet your requriement about being honest about your relationship with her, but you’d like to stay together and have her respect you by telling him about you and her.