Ask Sharleen Joynt: “He Slept With His Ex—And I Can’t Get Over It!”

Sharleen Joynt—Bachelor contestant turned dating guru—on the importance of choosing your battles

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Hi, Sharleen!

I’ve been with a really good guy for almost two years now. We hung out casually for a few months, and then we started dating seriously, but here’s the thing: before we were officially a couple, he hooked up with his ex. Even though he’s completely committed to me now, there are still periods where I feel hurt thinking about how he got with her while we were also spending time together. Just last night, I suggested we take a break so I could get over what happened, and he cried and told me he doesn’t want anyone else. I love him, but I’m worried I won’t be able to get over this. How can I move on? 

—Stuck

Dear Stuck,

You’re feeling many emotions at once, but I want to zero in on the two preventing you from getting over it: anger and jealousy. Yes, it’s frustrating that your boyfriend had sex with his ex after he met you, but you admit the two of you weren’t technically together at that time. Most people would accept an offer from a cute, on-friendly-terms ex under those circumstances. I asked my partner, Andy, if he’d have done the same thing, and he gave me an emphatic, “Hell, yes.” Your boyfriend didn’t do anything wrong, so your anger doesn’t have legs.

What does have legs is your jealousy. It’s a knee-jerk emotion and more dangerous than it sounds, because it can eat you up. You seem to harbour disdain for his ex—but put yourself in her shoes for a moment. If a guy you’d dated and still had feelings for (whether romantic or just sexual) was
seemingly available for a romp, what’s the harm? You’re also letting one casual hookup from the past override your man’s present-day words and actions. Instead, you should ask yourself if he makes you happy and whether you can trust him. If the answer to both is yes, you must resist jealousy’s grasp.
Bottom line: taking a break won’t solve this. You’re punishing your boyfriend for something he did more than two years ago while you weren’t together. Healthy relationships are those in which both partners pick their battles and understand what’s important and what’s not. You can’t change the past. But you can move on, and that means letting go of anger and jealousy—otherwise your mistrust will do more damage than he ever did.

—Sharleen

More On-Point Dating Advice From Sharleen Joynt:
Is My LDR Doomed?
I Love My Boo, But Not His Cats. Help!
When Does Sharing Become TMI?
My Friend is a Train Wreck, Should I Stop Her?

When Should I Stop Making the Next Move?
My BF Is a Heavy Pot-Smoker, Should I Leave Him?
How Do I Get Back in the Dating Game After Years?
Dating Rich and Ditching the Friend Zone
Why Is My BF Icing Me Out on Social?

And ICYMI, Sharleen is also our Bachelorette Canada recapper!

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