Old Boyfriend's Still in the Picture
Q: I'm 26. I met this girl few months back. We started talking and got close to each other very quickly. She was coming out of a relationship which was over for 6-8 months before we met. She continues to have a lot of guy friends she's always in touch with, including her ex, Jack. She told me that I can never make her choose between me and him, because he is her closest friend. In a month, she's starting school where he studies too. I live about an hour's drive away. I'm afraid that they might get back together even though she told me that it's over between them as he has no feeling for her. But she still admits that she has feelings for him which she said might go away in time.
I desperately need your help. I am confused. I like her too much. We have a very good chemistry. Tell me what to do. -- Al
Dr. Susan: Chemistry is the great fooler. It doesn't mean more than it means. So you can't base your life's decisions on the fact that she turns you on.
I'd be concerned that after a few months of closeness with you, your girl still has feelings for her ex that keep her in very close touch with him even though that makes you very uncomfortable. On the other hand, you have to give her the freedom to make up her mind or she'll resent you. She's made that plain already.
Yes, it's slightly possible they might get back together, even if only temporarily. She's as much as admitted she's still holding a torch for him. Some people take a long time to get over someone. Those feelings she has for him would go away a lot sooner if she realized that for her relationship with you to thrive, she needs to put you first.
What can you do? Begin by deciding if she's treating you well, totally aside from her other friendships. If she is, that's a good sign. Then talk with her about how you can keep your relationship strong even though she'll be in closer contact with her ex than with you. See how she reacts to your admitted insecurity. If she pooh-poohs your vulnerability, subtract some points. If she's compassionate and tries to come up with ways to reassure you, give her some points. Then play it by ear. This is one of those situations -- dating long-distance -- that you can't control completely. You'll have to be flexible and probably go more than half-way to meet her, literally and figuratively. And though I hate to sound cynical, stay alert to signs of dishonesty on her part.
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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.