Q: I need some relationship advice. Am I wrong for being upset for my girlfriend wanting to spend the weekend with a friend and her ex-boyfriend? I have never met her ex. They were broken up before we started to date but I know she still has feeling for him. How do I approach the subject of being uneasy with her meeting him and her feelings for him?
A: How you feel is never wrong, your feelings are your feelings. What is important to your relationship is how you process and express your feelings. Try not to show anger. You will always get a much more compassionate response if you stay calm and allow yourself to be vulnerable. In a situation like this if you get angry you will probably push her back to her ex. Start by asking for an appointed time to initiate a conversation so she won’t feel hijacked. Say something like, “Could we sit down and talk about some things tonight?” When you begin, use “I” statements and only express how you feel about what’s she’s doing, it’s not about being right or making her wrong. Tell her you feel insecure and maybe ask if you can meet him. If she’s unwilling to introduce you, then I would think that means she is hoping to rekindle something with him. If she thinks it will give her closure, it won’t. The only way to get over an ex is to cut all contact and remove all stimulus of that relationship. If she does still have feelings for him, she cannot just be friends with him until those feelings have subsided. Continuing to spend time with him isn’t good for her. I think it’s valid to be upset about her wanting to spend a whole weekend with him. All that will do is stimulate her feelings. She might be confused about how she feels, possibly torn between the two of you. But if she doesn’t care about your feelings, then she’s either not ready to be in another relationship or she is just selfish. Neither make her a good partner for you. Trust your instincts. People do what they want to do. If you calmly tell her this weekend will hurt you and she chooses to go anyway, then you need to decide if you’re willing to stay in a relationship where your feelings don’t matter. If she loses respect for you the relationship will die anyway. There is an old saying that says if you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it’s yours, if not it never was. You can’t control what she does. You can only control how you choose to respond to it. And you do have to teach people how to treat you. The empowered thing to do is to express your feelings, then let go. How she responds to your feelings will tell you how she truly feels about you. And then you can decide if she is a good choice. Timing has a lot to do with the success of a relationship. It might be too soon for you to be with her now. You might need to let her go until she figures out what she truly wants. Either way, you should want a loving partner who is truly available and present in your relationship, not partially stuck in the past.
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Donna Barnes is a NYU Certified Life & Relationship Coach and the author of Giving Up Junk-Food Relationships: Recipes for Healthy Choices.. She is based on New York’s Upper West Side but coaches clients all over the world via Skype or telephone to help them find the romantic bliss they crave. She’s been the on-air Relationship Expert for ABC News’ hit series “What Would You Do?” for three seasons. She taught Bret Michael’s girls to “Rock at Love” on VH-1. And you may have previously seen her on Good Morning America, Fox News, Late Show with David Letterman, NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s Early Show and CNN just to name a few. www.DonnaBarnes.com