Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax: Why is ex-boyfriend such a sore spot?

 

Dear Carolyn: I recently snooped in my girlfriend’s email and discovered she has, on at least one occasion, contacted an ex-boyfriend who is a known sore spot in our relationship.

What contact there was doesn’t really amount to much, and I don’t think she is trying to rekindle anything.

I am at a loss, though, to understand why she would write to him, even in a non-romantic way, when she knows the hurt it could cause me and the damage it could cause our relationship.

Also, I am reluctant to say anything to her, in part because of my own illicit action, but more so because I don’t know that it will do any good.

Snoop

Maybe there’s a past cheating incident driving your no-contact request; maybe you know too much about this guy’s ethics (or lack thereof) to want him anywhere near you or a loved one.

Whatever it is, you need to know your motives. No rationalizing.

Then you need to be sure you actually have standing to draw lines. By that I mean, does your interest in keeping this man out of your orbit trump her right to associate with anyone she pleases?

I see these exceptions as extremely rare. Associating with a past lover doesn’t cut it, for example, but associating with the person she cheated on you with does. Asking her not to hang out with a morally suspect friend doesn’t cut it, but asking her not to hang with someone whose suspect morals directly harmed you or someone you love? That does.

And when a partner chooses to ignore this kind of valid request, then you break up.

I spell this out even though I’m at a loss, too — to understand why you’re so exercised by this guy, and why banishing him has become your preferred measure of your girlfriend’s affection for you, a measure you’ll trash your integrity to take.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax .

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