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Old 09-06-2005, 11:25 AM   #1
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When does one speak of the past too much?

My fiance talks about her ex boyfriends incessantly. Admittedly, she likes to talk - a lot. But I listen, respectfully, and enjoyably. But as time goes on I grow somewhat weary hearing of these fellows. Inevitably we may be discussing the price of tea in China, but sure enought the conversation ends up in the Land of Boyfriends Past. Your past makes you who you are. There's no denying this woman had a life pre-me. Along the same lines ex's call "just to say hi" and a few from way back have popped in while they are in town (from hundreds of miles away to say hello). There's also the email life line they maintain. This has also begun to wear on me. I fear I must speak my peace and not bottle this all up. I want her to understand my feelings - and they are not jealous - for the most part. To quantify this, I am talking about at least one discussion per day where an ex is or becomes the prominent point in the discussion. Good or bad. Even the day I asked her to marry me, the discussion eventually ended up in that arena.

Do I think she is going to leave me? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Or cheat on me? DITTO.

What I do think, is that these men -in most cases- have NO business reaching out to her, and she back to them. Most of these relationships were not of long duration, but she prides herself on remaining friends. Why do I say they have NO business? Because I doubt seriously their wives (in most cases), girlfriends, or fiances, know about it. Guys are like that (in many cases). I know this to be true, because I am a guy.

So yes, I am jealous admittedly. I am jealous because we are two busy people and these fellows are stealing the precious time my fiance and I have away from us. I do not want to spend another hour discussing them, another 15 minutes waiting for her to finish an email, another meal interrupted by a call from the past, another romantic moment squelced by reminiscing of the past, another summer afternoon visiting with an old flame "who I will like and just have to meet"

Do I worry about her returning to any of them? No. Do I trust her. Implicitly. Do I wonder about their intentions? Of course.

Is this my problem? Am I insecure? It truly is innocent on her part. Do I care then?

 
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Old 09-06-2005, 11:41 AM   #2
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

I, personally, would not be too happy with it either.

Here is how I handled it with my BF: When we started dating, he said he still had dinner with his ex GF often. So I simply said "Oh, then you won't mind if I go out with Johnny??" Johnny was my ex. New BF apparently realized he didnt like that idea. He stopped seeing his Ex pronto, and kept it to a very brief email every month or so.

I have never really understood the need to remain close with ex'es. It's one thing if it was a brief little dating "thing" and it just didn't work out & the two people decided to be friends instead. Then they don't even count as an "ex" IMO.

I know you aren't insecure; because I'm not that way either. I wish I could tell you WHY you feel this way. I just think it's normal & natural to feel that way... since I feel the same way

Maybe you can talk to her - tell her how much you love & trust her, but that you just don't dig these relationships all that much.

Wish I had some good advice for you... GOOD LUCK!

 
Old 09-06-2005, 12:04 PM   #3
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

Thanks for your reply. There lies the difficulty. How to tell...

I think she has to sit back and say to herself. 'Is what I am doing possibly affecting my relationship in some small way?" I wonder if it has in the past. My guess is that it has. I don't want to criticize, for sure. We talk about everything, this should be easy, but it is not. I feel I am revealing a jealous side I do not really have. What I have done recently is provide no additionaly commentary (there's none really left for me to provide) and steer the conversation in other directions. Or let it drop.

I try to be thoughtful and considerate of my partner's needs. As she is with me. I rarely, if ever, discuss past relationships, only on the rare occasion when it is pertinent. I have a hard time coming up with an example when it is pertinent. In reality there are very few. So where is the need to discuss the past stemming from?

 
Old 09-06-2005, 12:26 PM   #4
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

Well, it has been my experience that many times, people bring up exes as a way to incite a bit of jealousy in their mates, because they find it flattering.

Especially in the beginning of a relationship - it can be a tool of sorts to find out if the other person "cares enough" to be jealous, or if they are just interested in a casual thing, and don't care about other lovers, past or present.

But it sounds like you have a very healthy, trusting relationship. I would really doubt that is the reason she does it.

Either way, it does bother you, especially because it happens so frequently. I think that in this case, you just need to be honest. Mention that it makes you uncomfortable. But be sure to also mention that you do trust her!

She just might be one of those people who brings up the past and exes - and doesn't think twice about it. I have a friend who seems to do it all of the time in front of her husband, and he seems to just tune it out.

 
Old 09-06-2005, 12:28 PM   #5
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

How have you come to know this person well enough to ask them to committ the rest of their life with you, but yo have not been able to communicate this understandable and rational concern?

I think it perfectly reasonable to expect that a fiancée, one whom is committed to you on the path to marriage, would not "incessantly" speak of previous lovers. To do so, in my estimation, goes beyond inappropriate. This is not a thing you have to figure out or deal with. It is an insensitive practice she should cease.

Last edited by Music4All; 09-06-2005 at 01:40 PM.

 
Old 09-06-2005, 12:34 PM   #6
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

Instead of steering the conversation silently away from ex-boyfriends (which may be too subtle for her to pick up on) try saying:

"I'm looking forward to the time when OUR relationship is the first one you think about discussing!!" in a somewhat lighthearted manner.


 
Old 09-06-2005, 01:52 PM   #7
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

Well said Ruth and Music. I will add that your SO is stealing the time from your relationship, not these men.
Forget about how it may look to whoever, tell her how you feel. Ask her why she feels the need to stay connected.

 
Old 09-07-2005, 08:21 AM   #8
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

I would have to agree with Music!

I would also have to say your girl needs to grow up!!! She sounds as if she has a need to let you know she was wanted before you came along, by talking about these past men. Where it is ok to remain on friendly terms with a past boyfriend, I don't agree with having to contact them or they you, constantly. If you were to live in the same town and you ran into them, a brief "hi how are you" type thing is fine. But calls, emails, all that? Not being able to let go and constantly talking to your NEW man about them is down right weird!

I hope your wedding isn't soon, as to allow her some time to grow and mature. After all, you wouldn't want to go to the altar with these problems, would you?

Even though you say you talk about everything, there seems to be a lack of communication and that is a HUGE part of a successful marriage. Both of you need to seek some guidance on how to talk out the issues that you have now and will have later on in marriage. I see your frustration and if you aren't able to honestly tell her, it will only grow larger.

Do you keep in touch with past girlfriends and speak of them to her? I doubt that you do. Has your girl always done this from day one or is this a new thing? What if she doesn't stop, will you spend your life listening to it by marrying her anyway?

 
Old 09-07-2005, 01:44 PM   #9
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ibeeshell
I would have to agree with Music!

I would also have to say your girl needs to grow up!!! She sounds as if she has a need to let you know she was wanted before you came along, by talking about these past men. Where it is ok to remain on friendly terms with a past boyfriend, I don't agree with having to contact them or they you, constantly. If you were to live in the same town and you ran into them, a brief "hi how are you" type thing is fine. But calls, emails, all that? Not being able to let go and constantly talking to your NEW man about them is down right weird!
Right the "hi how are you" is fine... It would be rude not to


Quote:
Originally Posted by ibeeshell
I hope your wedding isn't soon, as to allow her some time to grow and mature. After all, you wouldn't want to go to the altar with these problems, would you?
I would not. It is over a year away. I don't want to change her. I'd be happy if she just acknowledged the impact of what she is doing. I'll add she NEVER initiates a call or email. NEVER. However, by not responding to them, she might be concerned someone (who?, the ex) would be offended.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ibeeshell
Even though you say you talk about everything, there seems to be a lack of communication and that is a HUGE part of a successful marriage. Both of you need to seek some guidance on how to talk out the issues that you have now and will have later on in marriage. I see your frustration and if you aren't able to honestly tell her, it will only grow larger.
We do talk. All subjects. This one, in time, too. It is ME who is not talking about this. This one topic, I fear discussing, because I thought, however irrationally I was revealing my dark, jealous side. I guess that from what I've read here (and if you all believe what I am telling you), that is not the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ibeeshell
Do you keep in touch with past girlfriends and speak of them to her? I doubt that you do. Has your girl always done this from day one or is this a new thing? What if she doesn't stop, will you spend your life listening to it by marrying her anyway?
I do not. It is not necessary. I have male friends that meet some relationship needs. I have acquaintences. They meet some needs. My fiance meets all of my other needs. For those who may read this, I did not intend to spark a "can a man and a woman who have been in relationship (or not) be just friends" discussion...She has done this from day one, nothing new. I thought eventually, I would have heard it all and that would be that. No. I imagine as time goes on the other relationships will become more and more distant and there really won't be more to say. However, the emails, calls and visits are just not necessary, they do keep it going longer than need be introducing new situations, information, etc...

Last edited by rws68; 09-07-2005 at 02:09 PM.

 
Old 09-07-2005, 02:01 PM   #10
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ausomemom2
I have been married to my husband for 6 years and we are expecting our second child. We are not relationship experts (we have both been married once before and he has a child by his ex), BUT I can say that we have a mutual respect for each other's feelings. We both understand how hurtful it is to have to hear about an ex. We don't even like our ex's let alone communicate with them. He has to communicate with his ex to some degree because of the 10 year old child, but it is very to the point and limited. Not friendly at all. I haven't talked to my ex in 6 years. There is NO room for an ex in a healthy relationship. If she truly is friends with these men, I can understand you being hesitant to approach the situation, but if you are planning on spending the rest of your life with her, you should tell her how you feel. It's very obvious to me that she is not thinking of your feelings here. That could be very unintentional and once she knows she can make changes. I do not even have male friends that I talk on the phone with or email and neither does my husband. There is no place for that behavior in our marriage. I hope you are able to address this with her, it is not healthy for you to have to sit back and quietly deal with this. Good luck to you.
There is no reason to. It is hurtful. That is the bottom line. Forget about jealousy, she's not leaving me, these guys don't have a chance. I know that, she knows that, but do they know that? I am 100% sure it is 100% unintentional. I think I am being a nice guy, tolerant, etc. But it is not good for me. Or us.

I guess, as you say, there is just no place for it. What does it add to relationship? Nothing. What could it subtract? Everything.

Thanks for your support

 
Old 09-07-2005, 02:12 PM   #11
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

Hello--

As someone who tends to talk about ex-boyfriends, I think you sound very reasonable. When I do it, it's because I remember most of my life through relationships with men or friends or my family, whatever. I feel like it's easier to convey who I am by telling stories about my reactions to other people, theirs to me, etc. It's just how I am.

Do I think this is okay? Not entirely. I had a boyfriend tell me once that I talked about my ex a lot and felt immediately bad. In my own mind, it was me talking about myself, but to him, it was me talking about my ex. I still do it but try very hard to be aware of how much I do it and to consider whether the story could be told without that little detail of who I was with.

I thought the way you put it was very clear and reasonable in your original post. I don't spend much time talking to or visiting my exes, so I can't speak to that, but I surely wouldn't mind if someone said to me simply, hey you're talking about your exes a lot and I feel like it takes the focus off of our relationship. I think if you don't bring it up to her, you're going to come up with a lot of ideas about why she does it that may not be accurate.

 
Old 09-07-2005, 08:01 PM   #12
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

I was with a fellow who did this..well the talking about the past part..my ex this my ex that ex ex ex..arrrr...at first i just noticed it..didn't think about it much but it was there like a dark cloud above me..but i forgot about it. And then my ex my ex my ex. And exacltly like you said..i thought eventually i would hear all the stories and there would be nothing left. And sometimes i'd think holy crap man how many ex's do you have and how long have you lived cause this is never ending. Anyway i don't know what was worse hearing my ex..or when he actually said their names. Oh that made my skin crawl. Ok that said i may sound like a jealous freak..but i assure you i am not.

Well i did nothing, i said nothing..sometimes i just wouldn't acknowledge what he was saying or i wouldn't encourage the topic to continue..he didn't get my discomfort at all. Well he wasn't a mind reader like i had hoped. So i said nothing and you know what...it never ended. But we did. Not because of that..not at all..but just because of other issues..perhaps communication was our problem!

I don't know what to say about the time your gal gives to these past flames...but if she loves you, she has no intentions of hurting your feelings and most likely as you say has no idea this bothers you. I could only guess that maybe these people are a part of her life and because it is inicent to her she carries on with her life the way she always has. I wouldn't go as far as getting overly upset about this because it sounds like she has nothing to hide and thats a good thing. You are more than justified in not wanting this to be in the middle of your relationship. I think if things are as you have said...then if you, in a calm way, tell her your thoughts and feelings on this she will want to correct things. Be careful not to make her feel like she is being questioned or attacked and i'm sure yous will work this out in no time. It will be a great way to start a lifetime of communications between you and her. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding. It would be nice to hear back on how things go!!!
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Old 09-08-2005, 04:25 AM   #13
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

Krissy.... I think you have hit the nail on the head. Your first paragraph here is exactly how I feel. And like you say, I may sound like a jealous freak, but like you I am not. "Holy crap man how many ex's do you have and how long have you lived cause this is never ending" - that EXACT thought has gone through my head a few times! What is worse hearing "my ex" or their name. I have thoughts on that, too. Why do we need to hear the name? Why do they need to say it? It means nothing to me. Their name could be Frank, Bob, Jim, Ezekiel. It's not like she's talking about a relative where I need to know the connection...

She has no idea it bothers me. None. She is living her life as she has, because like you said in her mind it is innocent. It is innocent. From her point of view nothing will happen. From my point of view, I also feel nothing will happen. But it does hurt.

So how to best approach this... You certainly give some good ideas...

It's not Rocket Science, I know (well, maybe it is!), but it's all in how you say it... I will post back...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Krissy44
I was with a fellow who did this..well the talking about the past part..my ex this my ex that ex ex ex..arrrr...at first i just noticed it..didn't think about it much but it was there like a dark cloud above me..but i forgot about it. And then my ex my ex my ex. And exacltly like you said..i thought eventually i would hear all the stories and there would be nothing left. And sometimes i'd think holy crap man how many ex's do you have and how long have you lived cause this is never ending. Anyway i don't know what was worse hearing my ex..or when he actually said their names. Oh that made my skin crawl. Ok that said i may sound like a jealous freak..but i assure you i am not.

Well i did nothing, i said nothing..sometimes i just wouldn't acknowledge what he was saying or i wouldn't encourage the topic to continue..he didn't get my discomfort at all. Well he wasn't a mind reader like i had hoped. So i said nothing and you know what...it never ended. But we did. Not because of that..not at all..but just because of other issues..perhaps communication was our problem!

I don't know what to say about the time your gal gives to these past flames...but if she loves you, she has no intentions of hurting your feelings and most likely as you say has no idea this bothers you. I could only guess that maybe these people are a part of her life and because it is inicent to her she carries on with her life the way she always has. I wouldn't go as far as getting overly upset about this because it sounds like she has nothing to hide and thats a good thing. You are more than justified in not wanting this to be in the middle of your relationship. I think if things are as you have said...then if you, in a calm way, tell her your thoughts and feelings on this she will want to correct things. Be careful not to make her feel like she is being questioned or attacked and i'm sure yous will work this out in no time. It will be a great way to start a lifetime of communications between you and her. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding. It would be nice to hear back on how things go!!!

 
Old 09-08-2005, 04:39 AM   #14
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

I see your point, and I can see somewhat that is why she does it. And I can see how she must think in her mind, that she is talking about herself. And she is.

I talk about the past, too. When I do, I always talk about it in the first person singular. "I remember when I went on vacation to Mexico, the accomodations were beautiful" or "I've gone out to eat at that restaurant, it is pretty good" I conciously do that. What I hear from her is "When Jim and I went on vacation to Bermuda, we stayed in this resort that had a huge indoor hot tub, and Jim bought me this beautiful necklace, and that's where we met Sally and Bob from Omaha, you've met them, remember.....?" or "Jim and I have eaten at that restaurant. Jim always got the steak, and I the chicken"

Now I may be asked (usually not) more questions, more details. But then that is up to her. And I would still tend to downplay it. Nothing to hide. She knows I have a past. We all do, it is a fact of life. I'm being considerate, that's all. I'm not promiscuous, by any means. She knows roughly how many serious relationships I've had, the most releveant being the most recent one, understandably. She doesn't need to know, nor would I bore her with "I went out on one date with this girl, blah, blah, blah" On the other hand, I have a complete record of all dates from about the 7th grade on up! Oh, btw, we are well past our 20's!

Once for a test, I tried, out of the blue, just talking briefly about an ex in more detail. I didn't get very far. I sensed the discomfort, and the attempts to change the subject. I never did it again.

 
Old 09-08-2005, 08:01 AM   #15
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Re: When does one speak of the past too much?

You correctly said this is not rocket science, but you are making it out to be in your mind. This is a simple, no brainier, that should take about 5 minutes tops, even taking into account a desire to be gentle.

This is easy. Make it easy.

Babe, I love to hear all about you and all about what you have done in your life, but I have no interest in hearing it in the context of past relationships with names and details. Please always be free to tell me what makes you, you. Please also understand that no man has any interest in hearing the names of past lovers cross his fiancé’s lips.

Easy, to the point, not open for negotiation. This will prove to be either a moment of confirmation for your relationship or a red flag moment.

I asked earlier but did not see your resonse. How have you come to be so close to a person as to ask them to spend the rest of their life with you, and yet have some difficulty communicating your reasonable discomfort over this issue for which likely 90+% would feel the same as you.?

Last edited by Music4All; 09-08-2005 at 08:05 AM.

 
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