Her niece is seeing a guy who keeps in touch with his ex's. Is that OK?

Marisa Wright asks:

My niece is seeing a guy who has kept in touch with all his exes. Is that OK?

I don't mean he just sends them a Xmas card - he's a wealthy guy who throws frequent barbecues, dinner parties etc. He has all his exes in his cellphone and they're all invited to these events, he gives them flowers on their birthdays and calls them to say hi. I'm concerned he's a collector - these women are notches on his belt. My niece wants to believe he's just a sweet guy who's very sociable. What do you think?

Veronica Answers.

The real issue here is the respect your niece and her boyfriend have for each other. It's easy for anyone on the outside to project in their own insecurities, control issues, jealousies, and experiences, and that's just not fair.

The only real reason your niece would have to be upset is if she's communicated to her partner that she is uncomfortable about this, and he's ignored her. Relationships take compromise and understanding, especially in the formative stages. Often in the beginning of a relationship people need a little extra reassurance and effort. As years pass that usually relaxes. For example she may be uncomfortable with this now and ask that he not send any ex's flowers anymore. Years from now, she may not feel the same insecurity and relax on that request.

I have ex's I'm friends with. My husband is fine with it. I'm not up to anything, and he trusts me. I've had good people in my life prior to being married and have been fortunate enough to have been able to maintain relationships with some of these people.

There's certainly the chance that your niece's man is a generous gentleman who has had good relationships with different people and has chosen to celebrate that. There's also a chance that he's a player, or that he likes the idea that his ex's are accessible to him. Maybe he feels guilty that these were good women that he just didn't feel romantically for. Maybe he's got issues with being disliked and has a need to know no ex's hate him. Maybe he's gay and overcompensating. Maybe the aliens told him to do it. Who the hell knows, one guess is as good as the next. And that's the point - we're guessing. All our speculation isn't going to actually answer anything.

The only thing that matters is how your niece feels about it. If it doesn't bother her, it shouldn't be bothering anybody else. And if I'm not mistaken Marisa, you're not saying your niece has any problems here. You're saying this is your concern.

But let's just say it does bother her. Ok, if it does, then just like any other issue that could come up in the partnership, she needs to communicate and he needs to respect her concerns. I'm not saying she should think she can control his friendships, but I am saying she should feel like she can tell him her feelings, and receive respect and communication from him. Again, a healthy relationship involves compromise and work. Asking him to only have his ex's over if she's around, and not to send flowers or anything quite so personal and romantic is really a fair request. And for her part, she could offer to work on being open to seeing ex's at the bbq's.

One last thought I will leave is that many of us define "ex" differently. Some people say any person they've ever gone out on even just one date with, is an ex. Some people say "ex" is reserved for former sex partners. Others only refer to "ex's" as the people they were truly in love with.

There may be an inference that he has "all these ex's." Meanwhile they are merely women that he may have taken out once or twice and that was it.

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5 comments

Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 7 years ago from Sydney

Thanks Veronica. My niece says she's OK with it but her body language when she mentions it says otherwise. Her boyfriend is quite a bit older than her (she's mid-30's, he's mid-50's) and his ex's ARE all former sexual partners - he's told her so.

You are so right about communication - this is not the only aspect of the relationship that he just won't discuss with her.


Veronica profile image

Veronica 7 years ago from NY Author

Oh, well. That's something totally different. If she's tried to talk, and he refuses to, that's a big problem no matter what the subject matter. If you can't communicate and compromise you can't go forward. She's gotta know that.


Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C.

I don't know what age the niece in question is, but from what I've seen with my adult kids ranging from 19 to 36 is its completely acceptable and normal.


mward1125 profile image

mward1125 7 years ago from Arizona

Nice job--good advice that I'm currently putting to personal use as well...


Gendarme profile image

Gendarme 7 years ago from Jamaica

As someone who has done extensive research on the topic, I daresay that in the contemporary period riddled with so many developments in social life, partners ought to be more particular about tying the knot. Parties must of necessity find out with whom they are falling in love. The question I would love to ask the aunt is, assuming that her niece knew her man from the start, doesnt she think the niece must have realized what she was getting into before she called him to the altar? From the sound of it, it doesn't appear that it is something he took up overnight, a man of his age!My take on marriage or a relationship of any sort is you get to know the person, the good and the vices. By the way, with today's economy, it might take more than just a few months or even a few years! Turning them over on a scale, you apply your tolerance level for each. If there is a vice that is sending off too much alarm, you just walk on by. If it's no problem for you, then go for it. It's unfair to know the person from the start and then continue nonetheless with the expectation to request or even command a change along the way. This happens too often in relationships, and that might be one reason the divorce rate has been on an upturn for so long. "If you loved me you would have done this, or that". Yes, those words might do some persuasion, but after a while the person will go back to being him/herself. Where a river runs once, it will run there again. It's only a matter of time.

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