I’m a junior in high school. My boyfriend and I have been dating for a couple of months and he can’t get over that I’m still friends with my latest ex. How can I maintain the friendship with my ex without my boyfriend getting jealous?
Ah, you’re dealing with one of the tougher relationship issues that can come up. I’ve personally had to deal with this more than once, and it’s really not fun. Often, unfortunately, the friendship with the ex suffers possibly to the point of extinction, at least for the duration of the romantic relationship. Honestly, sometimes it is not possible to maintain both the friendship (in the open, at least) and keep the boyfriend from being jealous. So far, at least, it doesn’t sound like your boyfriend is giving you an ultimatum? Yet?
So here’s what I recommend. First, the best thing you can do is acknowledge your boyfriend’s emotions. Say something like, “I hear you. I understand the idea of me talking with or seeing him makes you feel jealous. That’s understandable. However…” and go on to explain clearly how you are with your new boyfriend now, you’re not going back, you don’t harbor any residual emotions or attraction for the friend. Of course, your boyfriend may still not believe you. But if you speak candidly, he may.
It may not be fun, but one thing you can do is tell your boyfriend he is welcome to join you and your ex to do whatever it is you enjoy doing with the ex, so possibly he sees you are neutral toward the friend. This works if you’re truly no longer attracted to your ex—because there’s either a vibe or there isn’t, and that’s easy enough for anyone to pick up. It might help put your new boyfriend at ease.
If the jealousy gets out of hand, and your new boyfriend demands you no longer are in contact with your ex, you’ll have to put your foot down and tell him its ridiculous to make such demands on you. If he doesn’t get that you’re his girl, that you’re not interested in anyone else, it’s a problem with his ego or self-confidence. You can’t do much about that and will need to weigh the import of keeping the friend (which may be more valuable in the long run) or staying with your boyfriend.
Of course you might consider seeing your friend without telling your boyfriend, but inevitably that gets out pretty quickly somehow, and you don’t want to start a good relationship with secrets like that, even if the friendship is valid, because it creates distrust all around.
If you’re just casual friends with the ex, you can compromise and only see/talk to him sporadically, or even let it go for a while if it’s not that big of a deal. My recommended course is for you to remain strong and solid in the relationships you want to maintain—no one should be able to dictate who your friends are, even if you used to date those friends. You’ve made a clear break and that should be acceptable to your new boyfriend. (In a perfect world.) Just keep the conversation going as necessary without fighting, but don’t let him dwell on this. If he goes on about it too much, just walk away for a bit, so eventually he gets that this is not a valid notion for him to hold onto.
I hope this helps. Good luck!