Woe Is Me! “My Boyfriend Is Still Obsessed With His Ex. What Should I Do?”


May 28, 2023


Image Credit: Kala Pani (1958)

Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.

“The guy I’m dating is still trying to move on from his past breakup. I’ve been supporting him through this bad phase even though I often feel drained. Now, he doesn’t talk much. He’ll be there one day, and won’t show up the next. He comes up with things like ‘I had work’, ‘I was sick’, ‘I slept off’, ‘I had thoughts of my ex’. I feel like I’m secondary for him. I’ll be calling and texting the whole day and he won’t respond. I’ve been really understanding of the fact that he might need time and space but not talking to me is not acceptable. I feel his absence more than presence. It’s affecting me and whenever I tell him this is how I feel he hardly wants to talk about it. Knowing the situation, I’m thinking of ending my relationship.  But I’m in a position where I’m emotionally and physically attached to him and don’t feel like I’ll be able to leave him. What should I do?”

— Playing second fiddle

DR: Why are you in a relationship with someone who is in love with someone else? This is too crowded for a monogamous relationship. Please leave, and let this man date the thoughts of his ex. Even if he tells you that he loves you, too (in addition to being in love with his ex, of course), I think you should know that love, alone, isn’t enough to sustain a healthy relationship. Respect is just as important. And, I’m sorry, but he doesn’t respect you, your feelings, your needs, your expectations, or your time. I mean, he’s treating you like a pushover. I cannot fathom why he decided to get into a relationship when he’s not over his ex yet, but it’s quite likely to not be a very redeemable reason. Do yourself a favor and break up with him, please. The longer you stay, the more difficult it’ll be to leave. Time to cut your losses, buddy. 

HK: Dating someone who has still not processed their previous breakup is tricky, because you’re picking up blame for circumstances that are out of your hands. It can trigger your flight or fight responses, and only you can decide which one is the right option for you. Sacrificing your own mental health and sanity for very little reciprocal behavior does not sound very healthy to me, and it’s not fair to have to constantly measure up to their ex, and feel their ghost looming over your present relationship. I think your partner might need some time to themselves before fully investing in a new relationship, and the fact that he refuses to discuss this with you is also slightly concerning. 

If you feel like you’re constantly begging for their attention, it might be good to take some time off and evaluate whether this relationship is causing more harm than good.

DD: End it. It might feel difficult at the beginning but ideally it really shouldn’t be this hard to have a conversation about your feelings with someone you’re supposedly in a relationship with. You might just have to trust yourself to be able to deal with the hard feelings that will come after a breakup. How long are you going to keep supporting someone who doesn’t show up for you the way you do for them? In my opinion, it’s better to rip the bandaid off now than have this wound fester.

RN: Sorry to break it to you: that’s not your man, that’s a sentient distracted boyfriend meme. Unfortunately the man has vacated the scene to live in the past, and that’s not your fault. You should leave him now before you’re haunted by two ghosts — one of his ex, and one of the person you thought he was. He’s being incredibly unfair, selfish, and doesn’t deserve you waiting in the wings for when he’s ready. You may feel attached to him now but you’ll get over it pretty quickly and thank yourself when you find someone who loves you wholeheartedly and brings their full self to the relationship. That person exists — let this one, in the meantime, spend his time running on a treadmill chasing the one that got away.


Written By The Swaddle Team


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