She is jealous of my ex

-- Question for John --

My girlfriend of 2 months recently told me that she doesn’t feel she has all my heart. She is jealous of my ex. She believes that I am still in love with my ex whom I went out with for four years, it’s been two years since our break up. We broke up because we know there is no future for us together. I told my girlfriend that my ex and I are just friends (distant friends at that).

My ex lives in another country and currently has another boyfriend. I care about her and hope she is happy but that is it, I am certainly not in love with her. Is it wrong for me to write her the occasional email to see how she is doing or for her to do the same to me? She believes that my ex should have no part of my life and that I should never see her again. My present girlfriend means the world to me and I don’t want anyone or anything to come between us.

-- Answer from John --

What your new girlfriend is expressing is insecurity. She also may have some kind of rule in her head like “ex lovers should be totally cut off…. no friendship should survive.” I think that is often just built over insecurity. Your new girlfriend does seem to me to be unreasonable in what she is demanding. She may have been hurt in the past and is worried that something may hurt her again.

I would suggest it is a mistake to cater to her insecurity. For as you explain it in your story, I see absolutely nothing wrong with your staying in contact with your past girlfriend and keeping the friendship. Just as long as you are clear that it has no romantic potential at all, and it is not a “back door” out from committing to your current love.

But it is a good idea to get your girlfriend to communicate more about what is going on for her emotionally around this issue. At two months, there can be a lot of insecurity in a new relationship. You might ask her to tell you all of what she is feeling about you keeping the friendship with your ex and how any of the relates to her own past, getting hurt. And just listen. At some point reassure her that you love only her and that your friendship with your ex is not and has no potential to be anything more than just friendship.

If she opens up and expresses herself and you just listen and accept her in whatever feelings she has, and you don’t take the defensive, then maybe she can move through these feelings. If she doesn’t, then that’s a pretty big red flag that you may be facing possessiveness that ultimately will not work out in the long run, and that it would be good for her to get some counseling (if she is interested in changing).