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Mina
Mina, Clinical Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 188
Experience:  Working as a Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist in NHS. Experience in both children and adults
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Is it normal that my boyfriend of 3-1/2 years still loves

Resolved Question:

is it normal that my boyfriend of 3-1/2 years still loves his ex-wife but doesn't ever talk about it? She calls and when I ask him a question about her (he refers to her by her name, not as ex-wife) he does not answer. While in the kitechen one day, I waited 15 minutes for him to answer the questions "how often do you communicate with your ex-wife". He just stood there and stared at the dog and didn't acknowlege the question. Last June he quickly responded that, yes, he still loves his ex (not in-love). What does this mean to our relationship? He's an engineer and we already have other communication issues but this one really weighs on me.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Mina replied 6 years ago.

Hi and thank you for contacting us.

I am sorry to hear about this difficult situation you are dealing with. Although I would rather not class this behavior as normal or abnormal, I would definitely say that I can understand how frustrating this must be for you, generating all sorts of insecure feelings. It appears that he feels defensive about his relationship with his ex wife and this is why possibly he avoids any discussion around her. He may still have feelings for her and these feelings seem to be in his way of moving on. On the other hand, you said that his ex wife keeps calling him, which could be considered quite inappropriate. You have the right to know what is the context of this contact, whether e.g. it is about children that they have together or simply talk about their day. If it is more like the second, where there is no particular excuse for the contact, then I would assume that this shows that they both have certain difficulties letting go of their past . Although this can happen with people, your role and situation becomes very difficult and awkward to say the least. You may start feelings rejected, excluded and isolated from his past life. You should not be placed in this position. You should not allow them to place you in this position.

It is likely that neither of them has clear plans, thoughts or feelings about each other. In these cases, where there are other people involved like yourself, your partner would need to understand the impact this has on you. The best way for this to happen is if you both engaged with couple's therapy. This would give both of you the chance to re evaluate your relationship, express any difficult feelings and thoughts in a safe environment and find common ground to work on. From your description, it sounds like that your partner finds it hard to talk to you about his ex wife. This could be also because he may feel guilty about any feelings he has and that he does not want to hurt you. However, certain things need to be told and heard if things are to move on. Try to engage him in a serious discussion without putting any blame on him. Focus on expressing your thoughts and feelings and try to convince him to see a couple's therapist to address your other communication issues as well.

Please feel free to share any feedback on these thoughts.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
We've been living together for more than a year but it's been where he stays at my house or I stay at his house. Now that I'm completely moving out of my house and putting it up for rent (this January), I'm getting more anxious about this and his lack of needing any verbal communication. I have no doubt that he loves me, a lot, but I worry that a level of intimacy that I need just won't be met. He told me yesterday that he just cannot meet all of my expectations (regarding communication). Should I pull some of my clothes out of his closet and bring them back to my place before we move forward with any long-term plans? The ex-wife thing is really bothering me, especially since he refers to her by name, not as ex. Should I call her or visit with her to find out what's going on? I've never been introduced to her. They do not have children and since she's remarried he is not obligated with alimony or any other financial concerns. I know he feels guilty about how they're relationship ended up but there was fault on both parties and I would think they both came out of it as much better people. He has a tendancy to be controlling and she did not stand up for herself. That is according to him though. Two weeks ago he locked my indoor cat out of the house and didn't apologize for it. Am I being paranoid or are there flags slapping me in the face? I've been a single mom for so long that I don't want to miss having a life partner, but I don't want to be made a fool of, or even work on something that may not get any better. He's wonderful to me, but these things are weighing me down.
Expert:  Mina replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for this. I can definitely understand how you must be feeling. You feel that you have committed to this relationship and it is understandable that you expect him to fully commit to you too. You are ready to make a big change by letting go your apartment and you need to feel secure before you take this step. There are no guarantees in relationships and we do hope and work for the best usually. However, in your case it sounds that you are already displeased by something that appears to be a significant issue in your relationship. My advice would be for you to think about this decision about letting your flat before you act on it. If you decide that you need to deal with this issue with the ex and the general lack of communication you will feel much better knowing that you are still independent and can go to your flat if you wish to. When we feel "trapped" in a certain situations we do not usually use our logic to solve problems. I am not sure whether "pulling clothes" would help in this. You would probably use that as a way to show him that you mean things seriously. However, even if you had a serious discussion about it you could still give him the message without challenging the situation too much.

I would not advise you to meet the ex wife on your own, behind his back. This will only complicate things and will be considered as quite intrusive. However, you can discuss this with him and try and understand what has kept him from doing so that long. You need to remember that if there is going to be any change this needs to come from him and not forcibly by you, otherwise this will not have any effect.

I can understand what you mean about your needs to feel loved and in a caring relationship and you probably have gone through a lot being a single mum. I also like the fact though that you are not willing to compromise.

You have some serious thinking to do. I do not feel that you need to feel paranoid about it. To sum up, take all circumstances into consideration, his love for you but also the lack of communication and possibly trust issues. Try and get a deeper understanding of his past relationship and whether it is affecting him and how. Think about whether you would rather delay your moving and letting go your flat and most importantly, try to engage him in a conversation about your relationship and the benefit you could get from seeing together a couples' therapist.

These are the main things that you can do. He would need to meet you half way and take it from there.

I hope this helps

I wish you all the best

Mina

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