I’ve currently been dating a man for 8 months. He’s 45, never been married and has no kids. I’m 1 month away from a finalized divorce and share 2 little boys with my ex. My married relationship has been over for years and I’ve dated a bit before I got into my current relationship.

My current relationship has been fast, but fantastic. We laugh a lot together, we can communicate really well, have been able to very successfully work through and resolve conflict, our sexlife is great, we share the same goals for life and we continue to share and build a trust and a bond which we both haven’t felt with anyone else.

The problem is, he feels like he’s living in the shadow of my ex and feels like he’ll always be standing on the outside looking in. THe only thing we fight about is my ex. I have not much contact with my ex except when it involves my kids. There has been a bit of drama going through the divorce but not much. My boyfriend has been very supportive but obsesses about my past life. I want to reassure him and make him feel like he is number 1 in my life, because he is. He just can’t get over me having an ex and says that will bother him always.

My boyfriend suffers from extreme depression and I know that the stress from my impending divorce must be brutal for him to deal with at times. But we love each other and we have put 8 months into this relationship, which in my eyes and I believe in his, a relationship that holds so much promise. What should I do?

A: What you should do is slow down. Eight months is a very short time to make a lifetime decision. You may think your marriage was over long ago but you haven’t been divorced. Please take the time to make sense of your prior relationship and what went wrong. You’ll be sharing parenting even if you aren’t sharing a life together so it’s important to gain perspective and, hopefully, a positive working relationship with your ex.

Your boyfriend seems to want you to have no past. That’s unrealistic and unfair. To be with you is to be with someone who has had a life that was different from his own. He’s right that he will always be on the outside to some extent. That’s not the problem. The problem is that he can’t accept that fact as your reality. You have two little boys who ideally should have a relationship with their father. They can also have a relationship with a stepdad, of course. But it’s unfair of your boyfriend to ask you and the boys to act as if the other man isn’t still an important person in the life of your family.

I very much hope your boyfriend is in active treatment for his depression. He needs to be doing the hard work involved in learning to manage a mental illness, not asking you to change your history to make it easier for him.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 17 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Boyfriend Can’t Get Over My Past Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/06/17/boyfriend-cant-get-over-my-past-relationship/