Question: Hi Moxie,
I’m in a new relationship with a guy who I’m starting to believe isn’t over his ex. They were together, as he puts it “for a fourth of his life” (10 years). We’ve been running into issues where we don’t see eye to eye on things, because he thinks that since I’ve never been married or in a long term relationship (my longest was 2 years), that I “don’t understand” things…for example, the fact that the anniversary of their first date (OVER 10 YEARS AGO) is his birthday…and that the “significance” of the first date just doesn’t “go away” when you’re married (or apparently, divorced). He rarely talks about her, and I don’t know the whole story, but when he gives me these little details here and there, I can’t help but think he isn’t emotionally past it, despite telling me he spent over a year getting over it.
When he brought up the birthday thing in conversation, it was the first time I admitted “It sounds like you’re not over her…” to which he got really mad and said that it’s insecure and negative to jump to conclusions based on one comment, when I don’t know the whole story (and I shouldn’t need to), and the fact that I make assumptions like that is very “telling” about me. We’re on a break right now, per his request (this fight we had is the main reason in my opinion), because “our personalities are too different”…I think that learning how someone thinks comes with dating, it’s rare to find someone you just “get”…what do you think? He hasn’t dated a lot (maybe a handful of people before his ex, so I feel like he doesn’t understand that dating isn’t easy, and this isn’t something to end things over, if he truly is over his ex.
Also, should we end up breaking up, which I assume will be the case, should I rest assured that he ISN’T over his ex, and that whoever comes after me will have to deal with these same issues? He’s really great on paper, and we have a great time together, so I’m really frustrated by this; I’d like to give things a shot, but at the same time, maybe by ending things I’ll be dodging a bullet?
I can’t say if he’s over his ex or not. What I do feel comfortable asserting is that he’s still grieving the end of that relationship. A person can lament the dissolution of a union without still harboring romantic feelings for an ex. Ten years is a long time, especially nowadays.
The fact that he exploded when you suggested he might still be dealing with residual issues with his divorce/ex-wife is what’s telling. That and the fact that he bailed over something so insignificant instead of trying to have a rational conversation. He keeps trying to blame your “lack” of experience for why you two frequently don’t see eye to eye, which is also a pretty glaring red flag. Romantic relationships are no different than platonic relationships in terms of how we interact. There isn’t one set of rules for our partner and one for our friends. At least, there shouldn’t be. The way he appears to constantly deflect responsibility and shove it back over on your side should give you a peek into why his last relationship crashed and burned. Despite having those ten years of a relationship under his belt, he’s a lousy communicator and even worse at arguing. Someone with poor communication skills who can’t disagree without exploding or pointing the finger at their partner is a time bomb waiting to go off.
It sounds to me like this guy is still licking his wounds from his divorce and isn’t ready to be in another relationship. I’ll also theorize that he knows this, which is why he used your inquiry as to whether or not he’s truly moved on as an excuse to end things. When people split up for seemingly bizarre reasons like this, it’s usually because the break up was always on the horizon and one or both people just needed and excuse to extricate themselves from the situation.
To answer your final question: yes, you absolutely dodged a bullet. This guy isn’t in the right frame of mind to begin another relationship.