We are madly in love, love at first sight. We have been together 5 years. Her ex...she says its not romantic, but she constantly sees her ex, goes to dinner, calls every day. When I have not been home she goes to the movies with her, not me. I left my whole life to come and live with her, and she continues to text secretly, hide to talk on the phone. Then lie about it. I get upset. I do love her. I know, I'm the fool. But she lies so well.. I know she has a problem. But I should be her emotional connection. I'm about to call it a wash.
~ Lied To
Dear Lied To -
I bet if we take a survey, the response will be overwhelmingly mixed about whether or not we should tolerate our partner's having close friendships with their ex's. (Take the survey and more after the jump...)
While most heterosexuals are not my personal role-models for healthy relationships (I'm going for greater than a 50% chance of success), I will note that they seem to have a pretty clear-cut stand on the friendship situation- for better or worse. Seems if you divorce, you're pretty much done with all hopes of a friendship UNLESS you share kids. Even when kids require ongoing communication, that doesn't work well for many. Interestingly though, it seems if you divorce because one or the other is gay, great friendships often remain between the ex's. Seems the gay part of this equation is where it gets a bit fuzzy. No wonder this is such a struggle for so many gay and lesbian couples.
Even if it has taken you five years to get fed-up with this, it's good that you now are. When we partner, we typically do so hoping that we will become someone's number one- that how we feel, what we think, what we want, and what we need actually matters. For her to believe that how you feel matters, you must also believe that how you feel matters. Because you have put up with this for five years, you have likely given her the impression that it really doesn't matter to you, despite your anger and hurt.
If a friendship with anyone becomes more important than a relationship with you, then issues are bound to surface. The caveat, however, is that your partner ALSO has needs, wants, feelings and thoughts that need to be equally considered here. There's always a flip-side to every situation, and when you flip your perception, you can almost always find new answers.
What does your partner get from the friendship with her ex that she does not, or can not, get from you? Are you capable of giving her this? Are you willing? Does she lie to you because you get angry when she tells you what she needs, or do you get angry because she lies to you and does what she wants regardless of what you say or how you feel?
Five years is a long time for you to tolerate what now appears to be intolerable for you. Perhaps she's gotten the message over the years that despite what you say and despite how angry you get, you really aren't going anywhere (because you have stayed). Tolerating what is intolerable does not improve a situation. Do something different this time. Respect yourself as much as you hope she'll begin respecting you, however that looks for you.