When my boyfriend told me he still loved his ex I wanted to punch him in the face.
I think this is a common reaction.
If he was still hung up over his ex then what the hell was he doing with me?
That’s all I wanted to know, and I didn’t feel like he was providing any real answer.
It eventually all came out: he claimed that loved me completely but he also loved his ex and couldn’t decide what to do.
I’m not a mathematician, but if you “completely” love someone doesn’t that leave no room for loving someone else, too?
I admit that in addition to my anger, I thought he was just playing me or trying to get me jealous to manipulate me.
But that wasn’t it.
I’ve come to see that he was telling the honest truth from his perspective.
Here’s what you should do if your partner is also telling you he loves you but there’s an old flame he can’t let go of as well.
1) Don’t break up impulsively
My first impulse was to end things with him right after he started getting into this whole thing about still having feelings for his ex.
I felt humiliated and angry that a guy I was devoting my time to turned out to still be hung up over somebody else.
To cut a long story short: I felt betrayed and also low value, like he was telling me I wasn’t good enough hot enough or interesting enough to keep my boyfriend’s attention.
The fact that I’m still in love with my boyfriend is what stopped me from breaking up right away.
I didn’t tell him things were fine and I didn’t say I necessarily want to stay together, but I didn’t make a decision either way, and I didn’t push him to do so either.
I told him I needed time to think about what he was saying and process it.
I also told him I needed space.
But there’s another thing that you need to be really sure about:
Whether or not you know how you feel or feel confident that you’re going to leave this relationship, you need to know where he’s at emotionally.
As much as you might be angry and hurt by your boyfriend right now, you need to find out the following:
2) Why is he telling you this?
There are various reasons why your boyfriend would open up to you about having feelings for his ex.
The best-case-scenario is that he is simply stressed about having feelings for his ex still and wants to fully come clean with you.
Sadly, it’s often more complicated than that
Cutting right to the chase, here are the options:
- He told you because he feels guilty and wants to come clean to you and recommit fully to your relationship and connection.
- He told you because you found out he’s been talking a lot to his ex or thinking a lot about her, so he has no choice except to discuss it.
- He told you because he can’t stop thinking about his ex and he’s internally conflicted about what to do about it. He wants to see your reaction partly to help him decide whether to stay with you.
- He has already decided to break up with you and is using his feelings for his ex as either a true (or untrue) off ramp from his relationship with you.
The common tie between all of this is that he’s having some mixed feelings about you.
The role of his ex is not something you can control, but you can make your own decision about this relationship.
Part of that decision has to be based on why he’s telling you this and whether it’s because he wants to break up.
You may or may not want to continue being with him after this. But what about from his side?
The point is: does he still actually want to be with you or not?
Because if he’s not fully in then any reaction from your side other than walking away is only going to result in huge heartache and disappointment.
So for that reason you definitely need to:
3) Find out if he still wants to stay together
Even if your boyfriend is just conflicted and wants to improve your relationship, he needs to be sure about what he wants and how important his ex is to him.
His own confusion or not being sure what his feelings for his ex mean can be more than enough to ruin his willingness and ability to commit to the relationship with you.
So, let’s just go there right away:
Is he in or out?
My boyfriend claims he loves both of us, yes, but I wanted to know his plans and what he really wanted or the future as soon as he brought his ex into the picture.
This has more to do with your boundaries than anyone else.
I need to know that he’s dealing with this and facing his inner conflict.
I need to know that he chooses me.
I need to know whether he’s still fully in this relationship, because anything less than that isn’t going to cut it for me.
That’s why I need to know where he’s at and where his energy is.
For me I know that I’m not cool with him having another love interest in his life and only giving half his heart to me, so I wanted him to choose between us.
Does he actually think he can continue to be with me while being in love with someone else?
Because, if so, that really doesn’t work for me, not in any way.
4) Speak to a pro
It was at this point that I needed real help in the situation.
My friends were compassionate and gave me their perspectives, but I’ll be honest:
A lot of the advice was contradictory and they seemed to basically just be mirroring my mood.
If I said that I was done with my boyfriend my friends would echo me and be like “yeah, screw that guy.”
If I said I understood my boyfriend and maybe I could work something out with him still, my friends would sympathize and agree “yeah, maybe there is still a chance, I don’t know.”
Well, thanks guys…
I love my friends but their advice was low-key useless for the most part.
I didn’t get consistent and truly helpful advice until I found a place online called Relationship Hero.
Trained relationship coaches help people through issues just like mine, and I found my coach completely got what I was going through and how to approach it.
She never argued with me or belittled me, but she also wasn’t afraid to push back against certain lies I was telling myself and confusions I was getting stuck in between my head and my heart.
I swear by this site and encourage anyone having relationship issues to check them out.
5) Be honest about the future
Speaking to a relationship advisor was part of a process for me about being honest about the future.
I knew that my relationship with my boyfriend would never be the same, but I also had to deal with other issues in my past that were hanging me up in reacting to this.
It’s crucial if you’re facing a situation like mine that you face past trauma and pain.
If you react impulsively in staying together or breaking up and don’t face pain of the past, you’re likely to end up repeating past cycles of heartbreak and dependency.
Speaking to a love coach was part of how I started becoming much more honest with myself.
I needed to face past pain when I had been very codependent with a past partner and dependent on his validation.
I also needed to answer that gnawing question in my head about my boyfriend and how he could really love me and someone else at the same time.
How exactly was it possible, and what did it mean?
6) Can he love you both equally?
This question was on my mind all the time once my boyfriend opened up to me about his ex.
It was also among the most crucial topics that came up in my sessions with my love coach on Relationship Hero.
We spoke a lot about this idea of the love triangle and a guy loving two women.
Was it possible?
The answer was, unfortunately, yes. It was possible for my boyfriend to love me while still also being in love with his ex.
His exact feelings and emotions might differ, but to argue he loved one of us “more” or “less” also sort of missed the point.
Suffice it to say he had strong romantic feelings for both his ex and me and it wasn’t just a ploy or a mind game.
What did it mean, if so?
Along with the input of my coach, I realized that what exactly it meant about my boyfriend still being in love with his ex was actually the wrong question.
It was the wrong question in the sense that what it meant is fully his problem, not mine.
My job and my ability is not to decipher exactly what sort of love and intensity of love he has for his ex or for me.
That’s his job to explain and clarify.
My job is to communicate clearly how I feel and to let him know that I, personally, won’t accept being in a love triangle.
But then we got to the hardest question of all…
What should I do about it?
My conclusion ended up being very difficult and took a few weeks to come to.
It wasn’t really the conclusion I had expected at first, but in retrospect I can see that it was inevitable and it was the right decision.
7) Set your limit and stick to it
I talk about setting my limit and how I wouldn’t accept my boyfriend being in love with his ex still.
Even though I was able to see that his struggle was genuine and that he really did feel torn between us, I knew that for myself it wasn’t a dual loyalty I’d ever be comfortable with.
That said, asking him to choose between us was not nearly as straightforward as I would have hoped.
He got emotional, he asked for time, he dodged my calls and texts for a few weeks. It was messy.
We did break up three weeks later.
I’m not perfect and I waffled many times over what to do, especially because I’m still in love with him as I said.
But his behavior dodging me and the pain I was going through eventually made up my mind for me. I wouldn’t accept more of it, so I ended things.
That wasn’t actually the end of the story, however.
The hard truth about walking away
The hard truth about walking away is that it’s rarely final.
Even when you break up and cut all ties, it’s impossible not to remember those times in your mind with somebody you loved…
The words they said…
The way they smiled…
The hard truth is that despite setting your limits with your boyfriend, you may find yourself very tempted to go back to him even if you break up.
You may find yourself wondering what he’s up to and browsing through his social media anonymously.
You may find yourself regretting parting ways and wishing you hadn’t.
Alternately, you may find yourself still together with him but wanting to jump ship every day.
How is it even possible to make the right or correct decision in love? Is there one?
I ended up dating my boyfriend again five months later. He’d apparently had things fizzle out with his ex who he’d tried to get back together with.
I won’t say it was easy, but nonetheless I was reassured in some way because I had set a real limit and only given him another chance once he came back fully and fully committed.
Our relationship isn’t ideal but it’s getting better every day and I do still have feelings for him.
I’m just so thankful that I broke things off and gave him a chance to fix what he needed on his own, rather than being a second fiddle to his old love story.
So he loves you both…now what?
In recounting my own story and going through the process I went through to reach that decision, I hope to have helped readers in their own relationship crisis.
Love triangles aren’t nearly as fun and dramatic in real life as they are in the movies.
They tend to be much more depressing, boring and confusing in real life.
Waiting around, refreshing your texts to look for a new message and overthinking the last thing your partner said to you about a thousand times.
If you’re looking for things to do if your boyfriend still loves his ex but loves you too, I suggest trying my approach above.
Whether or not you break up or stay broken up is up to you, of course.
But just remember always that you are not being unreasonable or selfish in asking that your partner commit fully to you and decide who he wants to be with.
He may love his ex, but as I outlined earlier, you need to dig into why he’s telling you this and what he expects to come of it.
Because if it’s anything less than coming clean and breaking all ties with her then it’s not what you need in your life.
What about me and my guy?
This would be the time to say I’m sure that my boyfriend has lost all his feelings for his ex now that we’re together again and really committed.
But I’m not going to say that because I don’t know fully about how he feels or does not feel.
Yes, he has told me he no longer loves her and that chapter is closed.
But saying things and truly feeling them on a soul level are two different things.
Among all the things to do if your boyfriend still loves his ex but loves you too is to become sure of what you will or will not accept.
Like I said, I can’t be the other woman or be competing with someone who my boyfriend still loves.
But I also can’t control his heart.
I have to accept his honest word and pledge that he’s committed to me now.
Whatever feelings he might still have or not have for her, he’s fully committed to me and no longer in touch with her.
He’s my boyfriend and he loves me. He’s with me and not with her, and he’s going to continue to be with me despite her wanting to be back with him.
He’s made up his mind and his heart and he’s decided that I’m the woman for him.
In the end that’s all I was asking for.