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Do you tolerate your partner's friendships with their exes?

(37 Posts)
normalishdude Thu 14-Nov-13 14:37:58

Hi All

As above- do you let your partner stay fiends with their ex? To what extent? Do you set boundaries?

eatriskier Thu 14-Nov-13 14:42:35

It depends on the state of things at the beginning of the relationship. I have a few exes I'm still friendly with and DH has no issue with this but it came as part of the package from the start if you see what I mean. Also, I'm not bosom buddies with them either so that probably makes a difference. My xH was friendly with some of his exes too, same thing applied with me - it was part of the original package and thankfully no threat came from them at all (though the new 'friends' he made were).

EdithWeston Thu 14-Nov-13 14:46:06

The boundaries that matter are those of the partner - if they are healthily in place, then the friendship will be just that, a friendship. But if they have lax boundaries and inappropriate intimacy with an ex (or anyone else, come to that) then yes I'd see that as a huge problem.

normalishdude Thu 14-Nov-13 14:54:28

Thanks. My ex partner hated me being in contact with the previous ex. The previous ex had some real troubles (unrelated to our ex relationship ) that needed fixing, and so relied on me a bit for support ;(she doesn't have close family). The ex didn't like it one bit and made me feel quite bad about giving the other woman the time that she needed. She forbade me to contact her- I ended up having to give the support in secret. It was a difficult decision, but lives were at stake.

Luckily (for all of us) me and the ex split up.

My current partner is very different to the last one. She's ace.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 14-Nov-13 14:55:25

My exH not only stayed friends with his ex but decided he'd replace me with her as well. smile I've since been the ex who remained friends with someone who I later found out was keeping me secret from his DW. Arse he turned out to be. So I'm rather jaded about the whole topic and would be quite suspicious of any partner that had a too-cosy relationship with a former girlfriend or DW.

MrsBungleScare Thu 14-Nov-13 15:00:15

My dh is friends with quite a few of his exes. At least 3 I can think of. One in particular he's really quite good friends with, they meet for lunch etc. they've been split about 20 years though and she's been with her partner for about 18 years. We've been together 9 years.

It honestly doesn't bother me. There's nothing romantic there. She did a reading at our wedding and her partner was an usher . I think it's proof my dh is a good partner and a nice man that his exes don't hate him!

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Thu 14-Nov-13 15:03:40

OP's question: "do you let your partner stay fiends with their ex?"

I dislike the word 'let' in there. Suggest controlling behaviour. I don't think it's right that a partner can dictate and decide who someone can or can't be friends with.

GetOrfGetStuffed Thu 14-Nov-13 15:04:23

My partner is on friendly terms with quite a few of his exes. The ex previous to me he is still friends with, has helped with building work at her house (she is married with a baby) and is on friendly terms with her family. Not too close, texts to say happy birthday and Christmas, if they bump into each other they'll chat for 10 mins.

His ex from years and years ago very friendly with, we have all been out for drinks together.

Various other old girlfriends from school days he bumps into and has a nice chat.

I'm not jealous. If he wants to have an affair with one of them best of luck to him. I think it's pretty good that he has ended relationships on good terms.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Thu 14-Nov-13 15:04:39

Mind you, plenty of exes can become fiends. They are often exes because they were fiends.

Friends, on the other hand.... smile

GetOrfGetStuffed Thu 14-Nov-13 15:05:03

I wouldn't dream of comtrolling who he could be friends with or not. It's not my place to tell him what to do.

BerstieSpotts Thu 14-Nov-13 15:10:13

I think it's fine to be friends with someone who you've previously dated, I think that's quite normal especially if you were all part of a friendship group.

However "having troubles that need fixing and need my support" DOES sound a bit over-involved to me, I'm afraid, especially if you are the sole source of this support. To suddenly be dropped because the ex is having a crisis would make me very uncomfortable, TBH, and lead me to believe he was still fairly emotionally attached to her.

And yes it's nothing to do with "letting" someone be friends with someone else or not, but I think most people would be uncomfortable if their partner was so close to an ex.

It's fine to offer support to a friend, but be realistic about your own boundaries and why you are involved with somebody. If a relationship starts to get too dependent or intense then it's creeping into relationship territory - it's only a short step then to beginning an emotional or physical affair and that's what would make me wary.

normalishdude Thu 14-Nov-13 15:19:50

Yes, it was involved but it never approached turning into any kind of relationship beyond that of friendship. She had no one else to go to, and it was a serious set of issues that could have resulted in her death. I wasn't prepared to risk that.

normalishdude Thu 14-Nov-13 15:21:17

-and yes, substitute 'friends' for 'fiends' in original post. I blame my stickkkky keyboard

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 14-Nov-13 15:28:08

Bottom line is that you can't legislate for how someone is going to react to you dispensing your life and death services to an old flame. It depends on how solid the relationship is, how secure the new girlfriend is, how trustworthy you are, how much time this old friendship takes up .... it's an individual thing. Some people will airily say that they trust their OH implicitly... 'Oh yes, he shared a bed with Sharon when they all went skiing last month, but it's purely platonic' ... some of us live in the real world smile

MrsMoon76 Thu 14-Nov-13 15:30:15

I am still sort of friendly with a few ex's but my DH is very close to his ex gf and she even came to our wedding. They are pretty close and I am comfortable with that. I like her and trust them both. They have both said individually that they work far better as friends than as a couple and I can see that myself in their personalities.

I would be very concerned however if DH was lying about seeing her. That would be unacceptable to me.

JoinYourPlayfellows Thu 14-Nov-13 15:37:16

There is a massive difference between an ex and a friend who you used to go out with.

In my friendship group there are lots of friends who used to go out with each other, but now they are friends.

The relationship between them now is quite clearly based on friendship and the previous sexual relationship just a part of their history.

When "still friends with my ex" means still going on what are basically dates together and maintaining an exclusive relationship that involves "support", then you are not really friends. You are just dragging the arse out of your previous relationship.

I would not be interested in dating a man who had an ex who he needed to save because her "life was at stake" if he didn't and I think you treated your previous girlfriend very badly by lying to her.

You don't really sound like a prince amongst men. But since you now have a "cool" girlfriend, you'll be able to indulge your ego to your heart's content. Until you break hers.

ChristmasCareeristBitchNigel Thu 14-Nov-13 15:37:47

DH is not particularly friendly with any of his exes. There was one period where one of his previous "exes" kept ringing, facebooking, emailing and texting him all the time. It was very clear what she wanted. I told him that if he didn't tell her himself to leave him alone then I would. Something about her and the fact that she had her fling with DH when she was married made me very uneasy about her. Coupled with the fact that DH got himself into serious trouble at work with something related to her. I told him that if he responded to another one of her messages that there would be serious consquences for our relationship.

The rest of them don't bother me one little bit.

normalishdude Thu 14-Nov-13 15:50:21

I didn't say she was cool. I said she was ace.

No hearts were broken. No dates were attended either. Assumptions debunked.

Anyhow, I won't feed JYPF's vitriol further by trying to explain what was clearly a complex matter. The very fact that she tries and belittle the comment about the life being at stake shows that no matter what I say, it'll be dismissed. Thanks all for your contributions.

FantasticDay Thu 14-Nov-13 15:55:17

My husband's ex is our dd's godmother.

Loopyloulu Thu 14-Nov-13 15:57:16

My DH doesn't keep in touch with any of his but I do. I parted on good terms with a couple of significant others who were in my life before DH. We exchange Christmas cards and birthday emails but all very 'above board' and I haven't seen any of them in years. If I was still attracted to them then I'd be wary of keeping up the contact as it would be inappropriate but I'm not, so it's ok. DH is fine about it and thinks what matters is trust. The danger is if 2 exs think they have unfinished business and contact potentially spills over into something else.

Loopyloulu Thu 14-Nov-13 15:59:43

I do wonder why you are asking is your current DP is 'ace'.

normalishdude Thu 14-Nov-13 16:06:21

I'm curious to see what others thought and I was testing my interaction with Mumsnet users.

Loopyloulu Thu 14-Nov-13 16:50:42

hmm

BerstieSpotts Thu 14-Nov-13 17:04:33

I think it's a difficult situation, if a friend is in need and you genuinely are the only person they can turn to. But I think you'd be naive if you thought that you could do that and it not bother your new partner. Effectively you are saying that the ex-girlfriend was a greater priority at that moment. That might be utterly right, especially if she was in dire need of a friend, but you have to be prepared that (especially if it's a new relationship) a new partner might be uncomfortable with that and might consider it a dealbreaker.

In that situation, then you see where your real priorities lie - do you ditch the friend to save the relationship, or do you call time on the relationship, reasoning that if someone isn't comfortable with this friendship, then they are not right for you?

ALittleStranger Thu 14-Nov-13 18:23:41

I think it depends on the emotional intensity of the friendship. Staying in contact, obviously fine. A friendship that operates at the level of drinks, dinners, group outings etc, also fine. But I've known a few people (romantically and otherwise) where the ex has still relied on their ex for a lot of emotional and practical support. That makes me slightly suspect. I don't think it's necessarily untoward, I think it can sometimes be asked for and given with no expectation or desire of restarting a relationship, but I still don't think it's healthy as it suggests one or both parties aren't entirely comfortable moving on.

ModreB Thu 14-Nov-13 19:30:18

It depends on the relationship. DH is friendly with some of his ex-girlfriends, but friendly as in platonic on all sides, and who respect me as his partner, chat at things we are all at etc.

The 1 who made it clear that I was not part of the "friendship" deal I am not happy for him to remain in contact with, and after we (DH and I) discussed it and I explained my reasons for concern, he cut contact.

I am still friends with the person that I was with when I met DH, as is DH, as again, the respect is there on both sides.

SockQueen Thu 14-Nov-13 20:24:01

My DH is still friends with one of his exes. They'd split up about 18 months before we got together and were already in a fairly healthy friendship stage by the time I came on the scene. Initially I had a few jealous moments (she does have boobs bigger than my head!) but as our relationship progressed those feelings went away. I know her quite well now and she's lovely.

I have no contact with my ex, but I don't think DH would mind if I did.

EBearhug Fri 15-Nov-13 00:15:49

I'm friends with some of my exes. I'm the tenant of one of them - we went out in our early 20s, (we're now early 40s,) and the sexual side of the relationship is long gone, but the friendship is massively important to me, and any future partner will have to accept that. I've made sure that other boyfriends since him have met him at some point, because he is part of my life. Usually they've got on pretty well (to the point of taking the piss out of me together. Gits.) We usually only meet up 3 or 4 times a year, but we do also chat on the phone fairly often. Mind you, some of it's pretty dull - "Did you get the information I forwarded on about that planning application down the road?"

I've got on really well with a couple of his girlfriends, and I'm still a bit upset that I lost touch with one of them when they broke up. One of his girlfriends did think it was really weird that he was still in touch with any ex, but she didn't stop him. His current girlfriend I haven't met - and I find it difficult - from what he's said, she's emotionally abusive, but because I am his ex, I can't really say too much. I've limited myself to comments like, "If one of your friends was telling you this, what would you say to them?" And I recommended he look at MN... (Don't think he has, though.)

But it's normal to me, still being in touch. We had an ex-fiancee of my father's at his funeral. They broke up before he met my mother, and he and my mother had been married 30 years when he died - she also knew the fiancee, and we (sister and I) had met her every few years from our childhoods. In fact, she may have had something to do with them meeting, but I'm not entirely sure about that. Lost in the mists of time.

Terrortree Fri 15-Nov-13 00:38:57

'Let' is a very powerful word - who are we to make those decisions? It is the nature of the relationship that is of more important - is the ex in any way (with or without their input) a means to threaten/control or manipulate your behaviour? Some people, few and far as they may appear to be, may recognise that your current partner was not the one for them (and vice versa) so there's no need for animosity.

But vitally: are there children involved?

I met my DH between nisi and absolute. It was a difficult time as you can imagine. Best friends rarely need to divorce. However, there was a small child involved. It was imperative we ALL acknowledged, like it or lump it, we were all going to be a big part of one another's lives for the next upteem years. It took around 2 and a half years to get things very amicable. That is beyond tolerance, but acceptance and respect. It wasn't easy to get to that point, but it was imperative. Since then things have gone from strength to strength. So my point is that DH and his former wife regularly chat, and I'm glad of that. I can chat to her, we can have differing views, and these can, tactfully, be discussed.

'Let' is the wrong word. Trust is the issue.

I was ditched by my current man a few months in, because his ex was having a crisis.
She rang him around midnight and must have known I'd be at his place. I'm afraid I couldn't deal with that, with him walking off into the bedroom to talk to her on the phone.

It's now clear a year and half later he was still emotionally attached to her, and we did make up again after a week or so apart.

But I have never bought this 'just good friends' concept because I have direct experience of that.
I was friendly with 2 of my 3 significant exes to the point I'd be chatting to them on the phone for 3 hours in the evening, yet I knew back then they still held a torch for me and this contact whilst supportive in that it helped them deal with the break up, also meant that inevitably they couldn't completely move on if I was still always in the background.

Last year my man's ex's friend asked him to visit them over Christmas at his ex's house and to my dismay he did actually dither over the decision. That hurt, but I pass it off now as perhaps him not having significant enough feelings for me then that he preferred to spend a holiday with his ex and their mutual friend rather than his new girlfriend. Or that he wanted to please everyone equally, as is his nature, but couldn't find a way of doing that in this instance.

A Christmas card, or once in a blue moon email or text is fine. But if you no longer live in the same part of the country and so don't socialise anymore, well, an ex is part of your history, your past life, and in my opinion they belong only in your past.
It's an attitude I have only recently learnt to apply to myself, too.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Fri 15-Nov-13 01:33:22

My DH is still friendly with his girlfriend from his university days, although since they currently live in different countries it's mostly a Facebook friendship. They met up for lunch the last time he was in London on business. He didn't ask my permission to have lunch with her, although he did mention it to me in passing. I haven't met her very often, but she seems like a nice woman, very entertaining company. I can see why he's stayed friends with her.

In all honesty, I did have pangs of jealousy when DH and I were first dating and I found out he was still in occasional contact with her. Particularly when I saw a photo of her and thought she was prettier than me. But I got over it eventually. I will admit I did get a little insecure again when she got divorced a few years ago, but ultimately DH is responsible for his own behaviour. Whether his ex is available again or not should be irrelevant, because he's not available.

Ultimately you have to trust your partner to either do the right thing or not. Also, as a poster above has noted, sometimes exes morph into friends over time. In my DH's case, he and his ex split up 17 or 18 years ago (I don't remember exactly), several years before I even met him. Maybe if it had been a recently-ended relationship, I would've been more unsettled by the fact that he still liked her. It was weird for me at first, in spite of all the rational reasons not to find it weird. People do get jealous, it's just the way we are.

MistressDeeCee Fri 15-Nov-13 03:12:59

OP - No, I dont. Whilst I dont mind at all DP saying hi and having a little chat if he comes across an ex, I definetely dont want them in our social circle. Personally, I dont have my exes in our social circle either. I dont feel any need at all to introduce my DP to someone I was in a relationship with, used to sleep with, etc. We can manage just fine without all that. There have been couple of DPs exes in the past who've been out of line - FB messages, phone calls etc. He put a stop to it, which was fine. But I wouldnt have put up with it continuing. Nothing worse than the ex who wants to be the spectre in your relationship, all behind a smile

It all depends on boundaries I suppose. If you're both on the same page about this kind of thing - as we are - then its fine. But if you feel uncomfortable re. your partner's ex then there's normally a reason for that. Gut feeling and intuition is very telling.

Lavenderhoney Fri 15-Nov-13 04:33:21

My dh has an LTR ex who occasionally calls with some disaster. He talks to her and she goes away again. I assume - I don't know really, I don't monitor his emails. It wouldn't bother me if they were in touch more, she lurches from one crisis to another and it doesn't impact on me and the dc as far as I know. He has never put her before us to my knowledge. I have no interest in meeting her though, she sounds hard work.

He showed me her emails once as he didn't know what to advise her, and she is very familiar with him and clearly from her words would like to jump into bed with him. He replies ignoring that part and just helps her. I think he feels guilty for leaving her years ago, and her life is a mess.

I have an ex who I am still friends with. Dh knows but ignores it. He has never met him but dislikes him anyway.

normalishdude Fri 15-Nov-13 09:45:29

Hi, no children were involved. Thanks folks.

struggling100 Fri 15-Nov-13 11:30:59

Yes, absolutely. My partner's ex is a close friend of mine as well as his now! I think provided the appropriate boundaries are in place, it can be really healthy.

KissesBreakingWave Fri 15-Nov-13 11:53:16

It's all about the appropriate boundaries and, indeed, the health of the current relationship. I stayed friends with my last-ex-but-one, and my then partner was decidedly shady about me even talking to her, never mind that she'd moved on and got engaged to a new chap.

She got as far (I found out much later) as sending nasty emails and so on to her. WIth hindsight, should have spotted that that one was red and definitely flag shaped.

Current relationship, GF and ex-but-one are in regular touch and gang up on me, the cheeky cows. Immediate ex is giving regular, public demonstrations as to why the relationship didn't work.

Damnautocorrect Fri 15-Nov-13 12:00:42

My partner is a tradesman so is 'useful' to his ex's so is in contact with all of them at least a couple of times a year. I eye roll in my head as let's face it, it's nicer if they just fuck off. But on the flip side it means he was also always decent to them.
I did think when we first got together that lending an ex 3k was a but much though

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