My girlfriend is considering going out with her ‘psycho’ ex for his birthday
He even threatened to kill me when he first found out about us
You need to be able to trust each other’s good intentions for the relationship
Question: I’m in a difficult situation. My current girl and I have been together for five months, her ex still won’t leave her alone, especially after she told him in the second month we were going out. This was the worst mistake as it made him more nuts and he began to try harder to get her back. His birthday is coming up this week and he wants to take her out. Do you think I should allow that because she is telling me she wants to be mature about it?
She refuses to be in a relationship where I don’t allow her to talk and be civilised with her ex. It’s like she still has feelings for him. She was in a toxic abusive relationship with him. She is really into church and is a really good person with a good heart. She feels bad because she has moved on and her ex hasn’t. I don’t know what to do and I’m confused, plus it’s a long-distance relationship. She even said there will be conditions to meeting her ex: he can’t kiss her or think there will be a chance of getting back together, but her allowing this meeting just gives him hope.
He is psycho and he even threatened to kill me in the heat of the moment when he found out. I just can’t understand why this is going on.
Answer: From what you say, your girlfriend was in an abusive relationship with lots of manipulation and control. It seems that this situation is continuing to some extent both in her ex relationship and also in her relationship with you. Her ex continues to manipulate her by drawing her into a continual connection and you, in turn, are being manipulated into supporting her continuing with this contact on the basis that it is not your choice and she can be mature about it.
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However, this man threatened to kill you and your partner does not think that this is reason enough to break contact with him?
Many people remain in abusive relationships because they are caught in the control/vulnerability continuum of their partners. The control can be intolerable but the in the aftermath the vulnerability can bring out the protective nature in us so that we are constantly caught between staying and leaving. Your girlfriend decided to leave her partner and begin a new relationship with you.
She is right in thinking that you have no power to “allow” her to meet with her ex but you do have a choice about whether this relationship meets your needs or not. Clearly you see her as a good person but if this relationship is to flourish, then there are issues that need to be tackled: long-distance, loyalty, fairness and trust.
It seems that your instincts are to protect your partner and this is a part of loving someone that can be lovely and caring. However, she is an independent adult and must take responsibility for her actions and their consequences. Being in a long-distance relationship requires a lot of trust and loyalty as the distance can give rise to speculation and conjecture. If your relationship is to succeed, then this aspect of it needs constant reinforcement, eg you affirm that you will not date or consider other partners while you are away from each other and you keep in touch as much as possible.
Plans for future meetings and connecting up with each other’s friends and family all lead to consolidating the relationship and gives it a chance to grow. In the long-distance situation, protection is less necessary than having faith in your partner’s consideration and love for you. You need to be able to trust each other’s good intentions for the relationship. This is what you two need to focus on and instead you are drawn into a pattern of your partner’s abusive but seductive past.
Empowering yourself to make good decisions on your own behalf plus a willingness to face the issues facing you in the moment are what needs your attention. If you think this relationship has a possibility of a serious future, then it is worth taking on the challenge of its patterns now. You can insist on meeting up and having a conversation about the basis of your future together. What do you both want to assume as rock-solid as you go forward and what evidence will you need that this is happening?
If you do not hear or see any indication of understanding and agreement on this, then you might have to make a decision based on what is best for you in your life right now. There is a possibility that the pattern of not-quite-in-a-relationship and the control/vulnerability aspect are all becoming established and if this is the case, you need to face the reality and take responsibility for your choices.