He Was Still Thinking About His Ex — And It Destroyed Us

We all have relationship baggage, but I draw the line at dating a guy who’s still hung up on his previous girlfriend but says he wants to be with me. If a guy can’t cut ties with his ex and make a clean break, it’s just not going to work. I made the mistake once of dating a guy who was still caught up in his previous relationship and I’ll never do it again.

  1. I wanted a clean slate. He, on the other hand, seemed to be fine with moving from the breakup with his ex — and all its unresolved issues — to a new relationship with me. I wanted someone who could say that the door to their past was firmly shut and bolted, but with him, it always felt like the past was controlling our present.
  2. I worried he’d end up cheating. He spoke of his ex in tender ways, and I could tell he was still torn up from the breakup. Ugh. That’s not a good sign at all. I worried that if this carried on, he’d end up going back to her. I knew she was keen to remain friends with him, so it’s possible that friendship would bloom into more. They’d loved each other once, after all. Who’s to say it couldn’t happen again? I didn’t want to stick around for that.
  3. I wanted good, honest intentions. I couldn’t help but feel like he was using me as a rebound. He took his time to make things official with me, then worried about what his ex would say about him being in a relationship. Oh, hell no. It’s clear he had a hidden agenda, and it was probably to use me until he could go back to her. Even if that’s not the case, the point is that he was letting her opinions cloud his decisions.
  4. I couldn’t deal with his baggage. The minute things got serious between us, her name started coming up. One day when he mentioned her for the third time in a conversation, I thought, “Why should his issues become my problem?”
  5. I felt like the third wheel. She wasn’t around physically, but it sure felt like she was in our relationship all the time. I’d often feel like a third wheel, like I was in competition with her. He’d sometimes compare me to her, either in good or bad ways. For instance, he’d say, “You’re so much nicer than her” or, “You make me feel like a bad person, like she did.” It was BS. I deserved someone who saw me for who I was, not in relation to other people but purely based on my own unique qualities.
  6. He wasn’t sure of me. He claimed to love me and want to be with me, but I knew better. How could he really love me if he was still hung up on his past? There were obviously unresolved feelings there that were getting in the way of our relationship.
  7. I’m not a psychiatrist. A few times, he’d talk about his breakup and how hurt he still was. It started to feel like more than just a casual “chatting about the exes” conversation. It felt like he was offloading all his issues onto me. Um, I don’t charge per hour and I’m not a professional. Maybe you should find one?
  8. He couldn’t commit. He struggled to commit to me because he had a “fear of getting hurt.” Great. Where did that leave me? He had to sort through things that had happened in his romantic past, but not on my time. He should have just remained single, for goodness’ sake!
  9. I confronted him. One day, I got fed up with him texting his ex and I confronted him about it. He promised me that he was over her but his actions told me otherwise. He was always rushing to answer her when she texted, her name came up a lot when the conversation hadn’t been about her initially, and he still had anger towards her which felt like love in disguise. It was too much to have to deal with.
  10. I felt like he had a convenient backup girlfriend. I wanted to stay in the relationship and try to make things work, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was still in love with her. What made it worse was that I felt like she was his backup if things with me didn’t work out. How convenient. It was best to ditch him and move on to someone who would love me without safety nets and people waiting in the wings for another shot.
  11. He projected his issues onto me. He didn’t trust me because she’d cheated on him. He was afraid to get serious because she’d been a commitment-phobe. I started to feel like was blaming me for her mistakes, which was total crap. I kept feeling like I had to somehow prove to him that I was worthy, which wasn’t fair.
  12. Even if he didn’t cheat, he was still micro cheating. He might not have cheated in our relationship (I didn’t stick around to find out), but he was definitely showing signs of micro cheating, like how he reminisced with her on important dates of the year when something great had happened for them. It was so inappropriate!
  13. We had different ideas about how to deal with exes. Perhaps one of the problems that kept us from working is that I’m the kind of person who makes a clean break with exes, even if the relationships end amicably. I delete my ex-boyfriends’ phone numbers and block them on social media so I can move on. He, on the other hand, likes to keep doors open for his exes without realizing sometimes those doors can slam shut on new romantic opportunities. But it’s his loss.
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.