Old Girlfriends Always Around
Q: I am dating a man my own age with whom I share a lot in common, from kids, grandkids, where we grew up, religion, to family values, and even the reason for our divorces: cheating spouses. We enjoy everything together and the sex is great. I know he would never cheat on me and he knows I would never cheat on him. The problem is he has a lot of women friends. That doesn't bother me, as I know most of them. But some are old girl friends that he has slept with. He told me the details after he introduced me to them. He tells me that I have nothing to be threatened or jealous of and I try not to be (or at least show that I am). They call him often and he calls them. They show up to happy hour when we do and even party with us at times.
This is driving me nuts. I have old boy friends too. We are cordial when we meet but I don't find it necessary or even want to talk to them all the time. He tells me he's glad that he has kept good friends with all his old girlfriends. Is it right that he has to socialize with them and talk with them constantly? When is enough enough? Am I being childish with my jealousy or is this a normal reaction? I feel like he doesn't respect me or our relationship. -- Tracy, 58
Dr. Susan: Respect can be shown in many ways. The fact that your boyfriend has introduced you to his old girlfriends, who happen to be current friends, shows that he isn't hiding anything. I wouldn't waste time being jealous of them or feeling disrespected, but I would let him know that you feel you aren't getting enough of his conversation. But remember, you're only dating, not committed, so you don't have too many rights in this matter. Simply because you're not interested in your old boyfriends as "real" friends doesn't mean you can control how your guy interacts with his own exes. Your reaction isn't childish, nor is it abnormal, but it could interfere with the deepening of your relationship. Explain to him that you realize your jealousy feels unnecessary to him, but that your own past makes you especially uneasy around his former sexual partners. Finally, you may simply have to get used to this. No one said it was easy to mesh lives that have long histories of their own.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.