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Ask Dr. Shirley Schaye Your Own Question

Dr. Shirley Schaye
Dr. Shirley Schaye, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1673
Experience:  PhD-Psych; Certif. Psychoanalyst NPAP& NYFS; Memb.APsaA;IPA; Pub.Author; Teach/Supervise Therapy
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My boyfriend of 18 mos brings up his ex (saying I her without

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My boyfriend of 18 mos brings up his ex (saying I her without her name) very often.
Conversations about where they travelled, what they did together, etc.
We were recently on a trip and when he went into the bathroom and left his phone by me, he received a text from her wishing him a good trip. It was hurtful to me that he keeps in touch with her.
He said he will always have a connection with her because he is still financially connected (paying off her car even though the spousal support is completed).
He says it is my insecurity, that there is no relationship with her.
He keeps sentimental things around his house, like his wedding ring, his and her necklaces hanging in his car. Old empty picture frames she gave him.
And the last straw, he mentioned months ago he loves his wife more now than when he was married to her. What??

Can you give me some advice?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I am very sorry to hear about this. Indeed it is very disrespectful. I see you have tried talking to him and that has not really worked.


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

It most definitely is not your insecurity. I'd love to know how he would feel if the shoe was on the other foot. How would he feel if it was you acting the way he is acting with an ex of yours. Have you asked him that?


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

If it is not helpful talking to him on your own then maybe he needs to see a couples counselor with you so that he can hear from an objective person that you are not being insecure. He is being very insensitive and not thinking for a minute that how he is behaving is hurtful. Clearly he is not listening to you.


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Hi there, what are your thoughts?



Yes, I told him he still has an emotional connection with her and he said I will always have that connection. The last time this occurred was over the weekend.

Then he generalized the problem, saying I keep in touch with alot of old friends (mostly women) and I will flag it every time it happens. And he eluded to then I will have to hide it (not be truthful) when it occurs.


Later he said he really cares for me and has no romantic connection with her. She lives in another state. But if she ever needed help he would be there for her.

He said he would stop all communication with her, he said it was over.

I am concerned that now he will just simply avoid telling the truth.


BotXXXXX XXXXXne, I want to know if he needs to seek help to get over his past.

Or am I making a big deal of this and need to work through it.?

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

The first step is talking it through. You've done that. He is not taking any ownership for his part in yhis conflict between the two of you. In fact, all the blame is put on you.


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I just read what you wrote. You are not making a big deal about it. Given what you have said though, I don't think he will go for help. I do think he needs it. That is why I suggested couples counseling because then it would be both of you going and he won't keep saying it's you not me. With couples counseling, you can then rely on the therapist ( not only you) to confront him with his behaviour.


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

So that is my advice to you because he certainly is not listening to anything that you are saying.



He has been divorced since late 2009. The day we had our first date, he referenced his ex, accidently saying his wife. He said I know that sounds odd, but they are still good friends and communicate all the time.

Over time it became apparent it was much more, his constant comparisons, references to what they did together, while some were good and some not so good, made me really step back and think. Is this good for me? Am I being dragged into a person's old relationship that he cannot get over?

His ex left him and I do not generally discuss any of my past with him.

I find that inappropriate and disprespectful.


I care for him very much, but perhaps he needs time to process this and I should part.

Dr. Shirley Schaye :

Let me read what you wrote.


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I thought as much --- meaning that his ex left him, not he her.


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

You are so right and very wise --- yes, he is not over her. You ask and I quote you, "Is this good for me?" I know you know the answer but maybe it's too painful for you to accept it. It's not good for you. Again, I agree, this his behaviour is inappropriate and disrespectful towards you. It is not you who has the problem. He does.


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

I do think he needs time to process things. But because you care for him very much that's why I suggested couples therapy --- having an objective third party step in and help out.


Dr. Shirley Schaye :

To me since you care for him as much as you do it is worth going that route --- at least giving it a try. It's better than just cutting the whole thing off.



Thank you

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