Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Compares Me To His Dead Ex”

I’m 22 and recently started my first real relationship. We’ve only been dating for about two months and he already talks about, mentions in conversation, and sometimes even compares me to his deceased ex (whom I knew very casually as we were from the same small town and went to the same school). It’s been about four years since she passed away, and they were an “on and off” couple at the time. I was fine and actually thankful for his honesty about the situation in the beginning, but I got a little weirded out when he started comparing me to her — especially when I kissed him. He said it was odd that I sometimes kissed with my eyes open, like she used to do (and he even asked me to stop doing that). I tried to confront him a little about it, basically by saying I am not her at all, and any comparisons should be kept to himself, but I don’t want to hurt him or create more problems than it’s worth with this. I noticed that this also tends to make him seem a little clingy and sometimes emotional, but I have little to compare to. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! — Not a Replacement

OK, I get it: you’re young, this is your first boyfriend, and you aren’t quite sure what’s appropriate or normal in a relationship, so I’ll spell it out for you. Appropriate: telling your new girlfriend once you’ve gotten to know and trust each other a bit that your former girlfriend passed away four years ago and while it was a difficult experience and you’ll always have a special place in your heart for her, you’ve healed and moved on and are looking forward to creating happy memories in a new relationship. Inappropriate: talking about the dead girlfriend all the time. Bat-s**t cray-cray: asking your new girlfriend to stop kissing like your dead-for-four years former girlfriend.

I’m sorry, NAR, your boyfriend may be great in every other way and perhaps at another time, he’d be a good match for you, but he just isn’t emotionally available to be your boyfriend right now. He’s got lingering stuff he needs to work out, and I’m afraid if you stay with him, you’re going to get tangled up in a head game you simply don’t have the experience to fairly play. It’s only been two months; it’s still early enough to gracefully bow out with your heart still intact. Simply explain to him the relationship isn’t working for you, that you feel you aren’t truly being appreciated for who you are, but you wish him well and hope he can get the closure from his past relationship he needs to move on and have a successful relationship in the future. Trust me, you’ll be doing both of you a huge favor.

I live in the same town as my my ex-wife who is an immature and manipulative person, whereas my current wife is a saint. The two of them started a relationship, merely to get over the awkwardness that comes when all three of us are in the same area. Recently, my ex-wife has been having some man troubles and turned to my wife for support (she actually turned to me, but I told her I couldn’t care less and to talk to my wife). Now she’s constantly texting my wife while we have the children, taking her away from family time. The whole family went to swim lessons, and instead of being able to watch my daughter learn how to swim and cheer her on, my ex talked my wife’s ear off for 30 minutes straight. On Saturday night when the ex was having a meltdown, she called my wife to come over and be her support. I put my foot down and said “NO.” My wife is a saint with a bleeding heart to fix things and people. She knows me and trusts me, and I have been completely open and honest with everything in my past, but I’m worried my ex will lie about something to get sympathy or cause drama. Is it wrong to be very uneasy about these two being so close and upset that my ex is taking away time away that my wife could be spending with me and the family? — Two-time Husband

Whether or not it’s “wrong” to feel a certain way is a pointless focus for debate. You can’t help the way you feel. What you can help is getting upset with either your ex or your wife for engaging in a friendship you fostered. If you didn’t want them to be close, why in the world did you tell your ex to go crying to your wife about her relationship problems? Don’t you know that’s one of the fastest ways two women bond (second maybe to discussing the challenge of shopping for jeans). You’ve kind of made your bed here, TTH, and now you’ve got to lie in it, but if I were you, I’d make sure to lie right in the middle — between your two wives. What I mean is, the next time the three of you are sitting together at swim lessons or watching your kids’ sports event or play or whatever, literally sit between the two women. If your ex invites your wife out to do something, find an excuse to tag along. Basically, make it difficult for the two women to spend much time alone together. Hopefully, if you’re a stand-up guy who treats your wife with the best of intentions, there’s nothing your ex can text or say to her behind your back to “cause drama” in your relationship. And if you maintain a friendly-but-distant relationship with your ex, you’ll find it easier to navigate the challenges of a blended family.

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at {encode=”[email protected]” title=”[email protected]”} with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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