My Boyfriend Didn’t Think It Was A Big Deal To Still Have Feelings For His Ex

I met a guy I really liked and it wasn’t long before we became official. However, three months into our relationship, my boyfriend told me quite casually that he’d always love his ex. In his eyes, harboring his feelings for a woman he was no longer with was no big deal and he couldn’t understand why I cared. Needless to say, that was pretty much the end of us.

  1. I could tell he had issues. I like to talk about exes from pretty early on in a relationship. It’s just better to get things out on the table and know if someone’s firmly shut and bolted their ex files. I had a tiny suspicion his ex was going to be trouble when he talked about her ad nauseam during our fourth date. I’d asked him about his last relationship and he gave me a speech about his ex, but I hoped it was a one-off.
  2. He wouldn’t stop talking about her. During our relationship, he kept mentioning his ex. She’d come up sometimes when he spoke about past experiences and I tried not to feel upset. I mean, if I asked him what his favorite hobby was and he told me it was horse riding, it felt natural that she’d come up because they used to go horse riding together. They’d been together for five years, so that’s a huge chunk out of someone’s life. I tried to keep some perspective.
  3. Things just felt… off. While it wasn’t a big deal for him to mention his ex when it came to things like previous hobbies and travels, the energy behind his words just wasn’t feeling right. I could tell that he spoke about her with a sense of nostalgia, even longing. It started to alarm me.
  4. I asked him about it. I didn’t want to carry my feelings around or allow them to make me resent him, so I asked him about his ex one day and why she came up so much. I felt I just needed to know what I was dealing with here. Then he dropped the bomb and told me he hoped it wouldn’t upset me, but he would always love his ex. Uh, what? He then added insult to injury by telling me that it wasn’t a big deal at all. How was I supposed to process this? He thought I was making a big deal out of nothing when I expressed horror at his words. Seriously? This was just getting worse!
  5. Let’s backtrack for a second. I know that it’s not always necessary to get over one’s ex before dating again. Sometimes meeting someone new is a great way to help you get over things and firmly put the past behind you. And sure, sometimes everyone looks back and has a bit of nostalgia for days gone by, but that’s really different from a guy saying that he still loves his ex and would always love her.
  6. I tried to be calm about it. I wanted to understand what he was saying, so I asked him if he was still in love with his ex and he hesitated. Great. Then he said, “Love is love. I’m not with her, I’m with you, but I’ll always love her. It doesn’t mean I want to be with her, though.” Talk about giving me mixed messages! Was he using me to get over his ex? 
  7. She was more than just a memory. He was dating me, sure, but was his heart really in our relationship? Let’s not forget how he was always talking about her! Clearly, she wasn’t just some fond memory – she was in his mind and heart. Ugh. He was trying to make me see that he’d moved on from her and that he’d wanted the breakup with her to happen, but I just couldn’t stop thinking: he loves her. Those three words were enough to depress me.
  8. It was too much. Whenever he mentioned his ex after that conversation, my blood would boil and I’d shut down. I just didn’t want to hear about her. I didn’t feel I could deal with this situation. She was the purple elephant in the relationship. Would we always have to talk and argue around her? Why couldn’t he just let her go and choose me instead? I’d never suggest that, but it made me feel like if I had, I wouldn’t have been asking for a lot. I was supposed to be his present and future, but he was in love with his past.
  9. I deserved his whole heart. I told him I couldn’t date him anymore because of his feelings for his ex. He still didn’t think it was a reason for me to walk away, but I had to do what felt right for me. I didn’t want to be with someone who was still thinking and feeling for some other woman to that extent. I wanted to be the only woman in his heart and mind. I felt like I deserved that, and it wasn’t something selfish to want. His ex was no longer in his life, but he hadn’t moved on. What future would we possibly have had? I didn’t want to find out.


Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.