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Ms.. I don’t know if you remember me, but you have helped me…

Hello Ms. Linda. I...
Hello Ms. Linda. I don’t know if you remember me, but you have helped me in the past (most recently in November).My boyfriend and I have been together for almost four years and have lived together for over three.I am bothered because today, I came *face to face* with a framed picture my boyfriend’s parents still have displayed in their living room. It’s a group picture that included his previous ex (I assume) sitting next to him, displayed in their living room. Also in the the picture, there were two long time friends of his parents (a married couple), his parents, and one or both of his sisters. It was taken at a casual, but expensive restaurant. I can’t really remember, because I have tried to block and avoid it since the first time I saw it a few years ago.She might not be his previous ex, but I’d have to ask; however, I’m afraid to. If she is, I think it’s disrespectful to me for them to display that picture, and I feel that I shouldn’t even have to bring it up to my boyfriend. Plus, it would make my insecurity about our relationship known to everyone in the family. How would my boyfriend feel if my parents displayed a picture that included my ex-husband? If she isn’t, it would still make me look extremely insecure, which I am, but I try to suppress it most of the time. I have noticed that my insecurity has gotten worse during the past five years, particularly because I’m now 40.It soured my mood for the rest of the day. I didn’t talk much and my boyfriend could tell that something was wrong.Normally, I try to admit what’s bothering me, but that can backfire if it’s something that *shouldn’t* bother me or someone in a similar position. Yes, I’m insecure, and after what happened in November, even more insecure. If we were married or at least engaged, I don’t think that it would bother me as much. When I think about it, I can feel my face and neck get hot.I’m not sure how I would broach the subject with my boyfriend, particularly because I only assume that it’s his previous ex. I don’t know for sure.I already knew her full name (not intentional) but didn’t know what she looked like. I didn’t want to know either.Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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Answered in 6 minutes by:
1/14/2018
Linda D.
Linda D., Psychotherapist, LMSW, CASAC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 870
Experience: LMSW, CASAC
Verified

Hello again. I will be right with you. Linda D.

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I can hear this has been really uncomfortable for you and you have some unanswered questions. I am wondering do you have a fairly good relationship with your boyfriends parents or mom or one of his sisters?

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Hello, and thank you very much for replying so quickly.Yes, I’d say that I have had a fairly good relationship with them, but not the type where I can be straightforward with them. My boyfriend often suffers in silence to keep the peace and not upset his parents, particularly his mother. I get along with his younger sister, but we aren’t particularly close. I used to get along with his older sister until the falling out we had almost a year ago. I apologized to her right away, she didn’t seem to accept it, then all of a sudden, last month she starts acting like nothing ever happened.I’m kind of afraid to get confirmation that it is her because if it is, I would expect his parents to put it away, or I can stop going over there.

Is it possible to just be casually curious and ask who all of the folks are in the picture? If you do not feel that is a good idea or that doesn't feel safe to you, do you think you could work on your perception of the situation? Do they treat you disrespectfully ***** ***** other way? Maybe they have overlooked that this is part of your boyfriends history and represents something entirely different for them. Maybe this is a family friend and not an ex at all? You really only have two choices; act curious in an innocent way and ask who everyone is in the picture or change your perception of what this one picture means in the scheme of things.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Ahh, yes. Very smart - acting curious. I just have to work on my acting skills, though - to make it look casual and not like I’m on a mission. I have to be emotionally and verbally? prepared to have my suspicion confirmed, though. I need to know what I plan on calmly saying in response, even though my face would probably be bright red.I know that she isn’t the daughter of his parents’ friends because they only have one child, a son.

Yes to all of the above. And it isn't really acting, you really are curious as to who it is. But yes, be prepared for the worse case scenario and decide what you may want to say. It requires bit of preparation on your part emotionally as you've said.

Linda D.
Linda D., Psychotherapist, LMSW, CASAC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 870
Experience: LMSW, CASAC
Verified
Linda D. and 87 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Thank you. Regarding my behavior, I was referring to trying to be casual when I walked over to that particular area of the living room and pretended to start looking at the pictures.I have been thinking about what I would say and I think that others would find it hostile.
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
A couple of things occurred to me. His parents have plenty of other photos with their friends in them, so there’s no reason that photo should be up there, if that is his ex.Also, we probably won’t go over to his parents’ house (together) again until Easter which is April 1st. So that’s likely 2 1/2 months of fuming, because the image is burned into my brain. My boyfriend probably has no idea what’s wrong. If he asks again, I will probably say something, because 2 1/2 months is a long time to wait for this. If it is his ex, I’d expect him to casually say something to his mother about replacing the picture with something more neutral. If not, I don’t need to go over there. As etiquette-conscious as his mother is, I’d think she’d know better than to display a photo that includes his ex, but I might be wrong.

It sounds like you are working this out for yourself and are gaining a good perspective as well as taking back control over how you feel about it. Good for you. The bot***** *****ne is it is up to you how much energy and attention you give this picture. Talk to him about it if you choose, not in an angry way, but like I said confused and curious. Stay in control of yourself and your emotions. I believe in your ability to handle this. You are a much wiser woman than you realize, I can tell by your communication! Let em know if you need me further. Linda D.

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Thank you for having confidence in my abilities. I need to repeat to myself “confused and curious” and “stay calm and in control of my emotions,” which isn’t easy for me, because my abdomen and diaphragm tremble when I’m nervous.You’re one of my favorite (if not my favorite) therapists on JA.

Thank you! That means a lot to me! ;^)

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