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He's too chummy with his ex

Let's Talk

WAYNE A POWELL MA Counselling Psychology, Relationship Counsellor

Monday, October 01, 2012    

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Dear Counsellor,

I'm having a problem with my boyfriend and his baby's mother. They're constantly texting, IMing or e-mailing each other. I've told him more than once that it makes me feel uncomfortable. However, he says he is doing it for his daughter and makes various excuses as to why he won't stop. They seem to constantly compete with each other for the child's affection, and share photos all the time.

He keeps badmouthing her and yet they're closer than ever. He says everything he does is for his daughter and reassures me that she's the last person that I have to worry about. He thinks that I'm jealous of their relationship but the only thing that annoys me is that he doesn't consider my feelings. I'm not sure what to do or if it is worth fighting the battle. He's very sneaky and he hides his phone from me. Please tell me if I'm being naïve in believing him that there is nothing going on between them.

You have obviously spent some time to assess the situation and have come up with a credible diagnosis.

You have to decide what role you will play. Will you be an observer or an active participant? As an observer, you can stand by and watch the ping-pong game the parents are playing with their child. You evidently seem to want to be an active participant hence your intervention so far.

As much as the relationship between you and your partner is important, it is more important that the child's emotional and psychological development is not impaired. He must disabuse his mind of the notion that you are jealous and be mindful of the fact that you are only expressing concern.

You mentioned that he does not consider your feelings and that is quite troubling. When a woman in a relationship complains that her feelings are trampled on or ignored, it is incumbent on her partner to fix the problem immediately as she might turn to someone else who is available and respectful of her feelings. Truth be told, women are highly emotionally expressive beings and thrive on reciprocal feedback. If the emotional component is missing, then the relationship will not survive, but merely exist.

One can sense your hurt and frustration in the relationship which is compounded by your partner's insensitivity. The ongoing communication between him and his baby's mother is indeed cause for concern. Surely not all of the texting, e-mailing etc would be about their daughter.

When a man terminates an intimate relationship, he must ensure that the boundary lines are established and maintained for the good of the new relationship. In other words, it can't be business as usual especially if the former girlfriend is also the mother of his child.

He needs to convince you by his actions that the baby's mother poses no threat to the relationship. Words are just not enough.

You are correct, trust must be one of the hallmarks of a successful relationship but not having access to the data on a mobile phone is not necessarily a trust deficit issue, as he, like everyone else, is entitled to some personal space and privacy. Don't yield to the temptation of checking his phone.

Engage him in non-confrontational dialogue. If you are unable to have a face-to-face talk with him, write him a letter clearly stating your feelings, concerns and expectations regarding the relationship. Let him know your heart.

If, however, you are convinced that your partner is toying with both you and his baby's mother, decide if you want be his toy girl and decide also if you want to continue to fight the battle.

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