'My lover still lives with her ex'

'My lover still lives with her ex'

Dear Thelma,

I have been dating X for half a year. We have "officially" been in a relationship for three months now. When I first got to know X, she told me that she is staying with a housemate, Y. It turned out that Y is actually her ex!

After a while, X came clean and confessed that they bought the house together and it was impossible for her to ask Y to move out.

X would go over to Y's family home for dinner every now and then. Y's parents know about their relationship. Whenever X tells me she's going over to Y's place for dinner, I get upset. I don't like it but I can't tell her that because it would annoy her.

Y's family treats X very well and she feels indebted to them. I am not allowed to question the affection that she has for the family.

X has told me on a few occasions that I could either live with it or end the relationship if I can't accept it.

I am heartbroken and don't know what to do. I have accepted the fact that she is sharing the same house with Y and that she will always go over to Y's family's place for family dinners and get-togethers.

I hate the way X handles the situation and I feel unimportant in her life. I know Y is a very nice person but I feel that a chapter has already closed in their lives. I feel that X should focus more on our relationship instead.

At times, I hate myself for being so selfish. But I'm not willing to share her with Y. What I should do?

- Torn

Dear Torn,

It is hard to start a relationship when there is an ex in the picture. It brings a lot of fears into the relationship. There is the fear of the relationship getting crowded. The biggest fear, of course, is the threat - whether real or imagined - that the ex poses to the current partner.

Your relationship is still in the very early stages. While both of you have agreed to be in an "official" relationship, it is quite understandable that there may be some insecurities which bother you.

X and Y have decided that they do not see a future together and have ended their relationship. There are different emotions involved when two people are in a relationship. Yes, there is love but there are also other emotions involved.

There are different forms of love, too. Not all love is sexual or romantic love. There is platonic love - two people can love one another, but not in a romantic way. It sounds like X and Y are at that stage in their relationship. They understand that they had committed to a future together, and that future is no longer possible. However, their commitment still requires attention. In this case, it is a house that they have invested time and money in. It may not be feasible to expect X and Y to give that up, for now at least.

Also, it may be too early in the relationship to ask that of X. There is no such thing as the right time - each relationship is different and the people involved are in the best position to decide when is the right time. So perhaps what is needed now is more attention to building trust and understanding between the two of you. These are the fundamentals of any relationship.

Trust is not limited to just understanding that neither of you will be romantically involved with other parties. It is also about knowing that each of you understands your commitment to the relationship.

It looks like X expects you to respect the decision she has made to see you exclusively. That means she understands the boundaries she has with regard to relationships with other people in her life - her friends and her ex.

As for her relationship with Y's family, why is it so difficult for you to accept that she has a place in her heart for these people? She feels connected to them and values her relationship with them. There does not seem to be anything wrong in her wanting to honour what they have done for her in the past, and be nice to them.

You probably underestimate X's ability to love. Humans have a huge capacity for love and are capable of loving many people at the same time. Just because she cares for Y's family, it does not mean that she is going to love you less.

Also, it is unfair of you to expect X to give up certain things to show her commitment to you and the relationship.

Your insecurities are yours; it is your responsibility to address them. You cannot expect her to behave in a way that suits you so that you feel more secure. Even if she were to make a start, where is this going to end?

Insecurity in itself is not selfish. If you do not address your insecurities but expect X to accommodate them, then that is selfish.

It may be harsh of her to make you choose between her living arrangement and your relationship. But there may be an element of truth in that. See it for what it is.

Insecurities may arise when a person is in love. As hard as it may be to confront them, working on these insecurities means that we make ourselves better people. When we are better people, we will enjoy more fulfilling relationships. This is an investment that is worth all the work it requires.

- Thelma


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