So, I’ve been dating my boyfriend for awhile now, and things are really great. We live an hour away from each other and he makes the effort to drive to see me every week for at least a couple of days at a time, sends me flowers at work, and calls me a few times a day at least. We have a very honest relationship, and share pretty much everything with each other. I really couldn’t ask for a sweeter boyfriend, or a better relationship.
Ever since we’ve started seeing each other, I’ve noticed something a little weird though. He talks about his exes, a lot. He’ll bring up random comments (“that house looks like ___’s house”) or just tell me stories when something reminds him. It’s mainly two girls that he talks about, that he was with for 3 and 5 years. Honestly, I really don’t want to hear these stories; I know everyone has a past and I’m okay with that…but I just don’t care or want to know about it. The relationships with these girls ended years ago. On top of that, I made a passing mention of my ex’s name once and he got so upset! He told me he doesn’t want to think about it, and that it upsets him hearing it.
Is he not over these girls, or was he just with them for so long that he’s used to bringing them up in conversation? What’s his deal!
– Keep It To Yourself
Dear Keep It To Yourself,
It is often helpful to think of men as dogs when regarding any relationship: we would do almost anything for bacon; we sometimes miss where we intend to pee; and, for us, 3 to 5 years is like “20” in relationship years. You’re right- your boyfriend likely doesn’t realize how often he brings his exes into the conversation, nor how unbelievably annoying this may be. Men are creatures of habit…and sometimes our bad habits seem impossible to break. But don’t waste your time worrying about if your man has moved on from these women (or if he’s secretly still holding a torch for them)… the way he treats you (daily phone calls, kind gestures and generous long-distance efforts) shows exactly how much he loves you.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t change the fact that your boyfriend’s absent-minded “name dropping” habit is putting a damper on things. If you don’t bring this issue to him (openly, honestly and delicately), then you may find yourself burning your own huge torch of resentment pretty soon. So, sit down with your boyfriend and explain to him that you love living in the present with him (and feel so positive about your future), but you want to bring to attention how much he refers to the past.
Let him know that although you don’t want him to hide or repress his past, if he does want to go down memory lane with his exes, he needs to return the favor (and be ok with you mentioning former flames). Hopefully the idea can be discussed with an open-mind (without any fingers being pointed, defenses being raised or additional names being dropped), and you can move on from there on a more positive note. As long as your flowers aren’t addressed to one of these other women (or their names aren’t called out in bed)…try not to worry. In this case, his actions truly speak louder than words.
I think I’m done here,
[Got a question for Mr. Dude? (And, no, that doesn’t include asking him out; homeboy is taken!) Ask it: firstname.lastname@example.org. He won’t sugarcoat it, beat around the bush, or any other weird cliche that means lie to you. He’ll be 100% real dude, 100% of the time. So bring it on, ladies.]