I was married for 20+ years (I’m 48) and have 2 teen aged children, one at home and one at university. My marriage is over, I am separated, and I am ready to move on. I am still good friends with my ex and we are supportive of each other. 2 years ago I met a man in a very similar situation. He was separated a year before me, and has two children also the same ages as mine. We hit it off immediately, and fell in love. We love each other very much. In the early days of our relationship I told him that one of my goals was to have one more serious relationship in my life and to be living together with that man. He said that he would like that too, one day.

Things started off very well between us. I spent time with his children and there did not seem to be any problems. My children really like him and they get along well.

As months went by, there seemed to be hesitation on his part to have our respective children meet. They have a lot in common and the few times they did meet everything seemed fine. His ex was a very controlling person. Their marriage broke up and within a year she was living with another man (who also has kids). My boyfriend does not speak to his ex’s live-in, and this has been over 3 years now.

At this time, I have not seen my boyfriend’s daughter for 3 months. She lives 10 minutes away. I have expressed my great concern about this on numerous occasions. My boyfriend says he wants us all together, but he rarely invites me and my son to his house. He can’t seem to move forward. Help!

A: You’re right. He isn’t moving forward. By keeping the two families separate, he is preventing the “blending” that happens when people with children move from “dating” to making a new kind of family.

You and your ex have moved past your hurt and anger and have an amicable relationship. When this can happen, it’s best for everyone. The children aren’t conflicted about spending time with either parent. The parents aren’t still living in old pain. This is what it means to move on. Three years after the breakup, your boyfriend isn’t on speaking terms with his ex’s partner. It appears he was so hurt by the breakup of his marriage that he can’t take the risk to start again.

That’s sad. Your relationship sounds like it has promise. All you can do is try to talk to him about it. In a way, he is letting his “controlling” ex still control how he lives his life. His reaction to her behavior is holding him back.

He might find it useful to talk to a therapist to help him resolve his feelings about his prior marriage and divorce. Another route to go would be for the two of you to see a couples therapist – together – to help you find ways to reassure him and to help him trust you and your relationship as being different from him first marriage.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jan 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). Boyfriend Can’t Move on from Past Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/01/08/boyfriend-cant-move-on-from-past-relationship/