I’ve been with my first serious boyfriend for nine months. Long story short, he’s still friends with many of his exes, which doesn’t bother me except for one girl. He frequently goes to her house to hang out with her brother, and he’s admitted she comes on to him and he brushes her off. She also texts him; just last week he asked me to check his phone for a message from his mom and I saw a text from her asking him to hang out because he’s so much more fun than her new boyfriend. FYI, I’ve also caught him sexting with another random girl on Facebook a few months back. He apologized, and I’m over that, but I don’t know how to handle his friendship with this ex. She lost her virginity to him and maybe that’s why she’s so stuck on him. He says she’s like a sister to him at this point. Should I just try to get past it or should I be more stern?
He Said: It is human to flirt. It is human to crave attention from attractive people other than your partner. It is unrealistic for you to think that either you or your “serious boyfriend” will not with some regularity find yourselves in such situations, either with an ex or someone new. There is no good reason to attempt to deprive him of one of life’s great pleasures, one that can often contribute to a good relationship rather than detract from it. If you have not already, figure out an agreement that works for you both—I always prefer the “look at the menu but don’t order” deal. (Though sometimes I’ll throw in an appetizer!) But once you have agreed, stop looking over his shoulder and monitoring his texts. It will just make you crazy and frustrate him at the same time. If you don’t trust him to uphold his end of the bargain, then it’s time to reevaluate your commitment.
She Said: If this didn’t bother you deeply, you wouldn’t be writing or seeking advice. So no, you should not try to “get past” him hanging out with and texting an ex-girlfriend who comes on to him. Be honest about your feelings. Tell him you’re okay with his friendships with exes in general, but not this one, since she doesn’t respect his primary relationship with you. As calmly as you can, ask him for exactly what you want, whether it’s to stop going to her house (he can meet her brother elsewhere), stop texting her, or both. Tell him how it makes you feel, whether that is disrespected, angry, or hurt. You can’t ultimately control what he does, but it’s your job to tell him what you need, what you will and won’t put up with, and then act accordingly depending on his response.
“She” is Robin Rinaldi, 7x7’s former executive editor, currently at work on a memoir titled The Wild Oats Project.