There could be many reasons why you feel like you must have your ex in your life. Some possibilities include loneliness, feeling that you cannot attract another man, convenience, or low self-esteem. These are some possibilities and there may be many others.
Another possibility is that no one modeled for you what a good relationship is like. You had a good childhood and you have a healthy relationship with your parents. Even so, their relationship may not have been healthy and that could have been where you learned some of your problematic behaviors. Since you did not describe their relationship it is difficult for me to determine whether it is the source of your problems. If you were to analyze your life, I wonder if there are any family members who have a similar relationship to the one you have with your ex? If so, that may be the source.
Some individuals will tolerate an unfaithful partner if they are single, lonely or feel that there are no prospective relationships. Why? Because they don’t like to be alone. For some people, being in an unhealthy relationship is better than not being in a relationship at all. Those same people, if they met someone new and felt that relationship had promise, would then and only then break off the old relationship. If the new relationship failed then they might attempt to reconnect with their ex, even if it meant being treated badly again. As I mentioned above, the common theme is that any relationship, even if it’s a bad one, is better than no relationship. The motivating force behind tolerating a less than healthy relationship is often a fear of being alone. It is a characteristic of dependent personality disorder.
The relationship you have described does not seem healthy. I would advise you to consider therapy. Therapy could help you understand why you are accepting of a relationship that does not benefit you and may in fact be harmful. You may be able to analyze and determine the source of your behavior. You could also learn new and better ways to cultivate a healthy relationship. Therapy is the ideal place to deal with relationship problems. Many people have found the website Psychology Today to be helpful for searching for therapists in their community. I wish you well. Thank you for your question.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on March 12, 2010.