Sexy Ex Complications
Q: My girlfriend and I were doing our usual weekend bike ride on the bike trails when we stumbled upon a fellow bicyclist—her ex-boyfriend. We stopped at the nearest resting station and began talking. While I never actually met him before, I knew of him and had seen his picture. Well, let me say, this is not how I remember this guy looking. He must have laid off the beers and began biking every day. I couldn't help but notice my girlfriend was practically glowing in front of him and complimenting him constantly on how good he looked. On the bike ride home (the ex was not around), my girlfriend continued to comment on how he looked healthy and happy. Finally I snapped at her and told her how rude I thought it was for her to keep telling me that. I also thought it made me look foolish that she was complimenting him. She told me not to worry and that her being so open only showed the ex-boyfriend how comfortable she was with me. Am I to believe that? I mean, I suppose it makes sense but my feelings were still hurt and I wished she hadn't been complimenting him so much. -Robby, 35
Dr. Anna: Giving a compliment to another person is a pretty harmless act by itself, even if it's an ex. If you are feeling threatened by her positive compliments to her ex, that is something you need to think about. It sounds like this touched on a really sensitive place for you. Ask yourself honestly why you might be having such a strong reaction. Are you feeling insecure about any part of yourself or your relationship with your girlfriend? Praise towards one person doesn't automatically mean negative judgment about someone else. If you've been feeling uncertain about how she feels about you, that's a different and more reasonable conversation to have with her.
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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.