Boyfriend still has feelings for his ex

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Dear Guys,

I’ve been seeing my boyfriend for about two months. It seems like a short period of time. For me it was beautiful and enough time for me to fall in love with him. He broke up with his ex-partner of 2 years about a month before meeting me. We met in February and were together in March. We’ve been together ever since. Suddenly his ex found out he was with me and she demanded to see him. When I spoke to my guy he told me it was over between them and that was beyond repair. I trust him for this. But he also told me he still has feelings for her. And that he still wants to be with me too. He said he understood if I wanted to leave him because he still had feelings for her. I asked him why he got with me when he had feelings for her, and asked him if I was a rebound. He said that I was not a rebound. Then I asked him if he was with me just for sex. He said he enjoyed me for everything. Meaning not just sex, but also my company etc. I love him. I dont want to lose him. It hurts me that he still has feelings for her. When we got together, we played together, we laughed. We had small issues where he was jealous of the amount of men approaching me. We resolved this gently and we were going great. After his ex contacted him, we weren’t so playful anymore. He barely even kisses me. I’m ready to accept he still has feelings for her, and that he will get over her in due time -because he told me they were beyond repair. But the pain is still there. He is good to me, but I feel broken. I know he is too. I love him. I want to stay with him. I’ve had many boyfriends before him. and never did it hurt me to leave them when they betrayed me. But he is different. He is 20 years older. I love his eyes, his hair, his faults and his brilliance. I do not know what to do. I dont want us to end.


Dear Leila,

Thanks for writing to us.

It’s entirely possible that your new boyfriend has feelings for his ex and for you at the same time. Even if his previous relationship is beyond repair, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for her, or has forgotten all the good times they had together. Just like you might remember many of the fun times you had with your ex-boyfriends.

The issue here is time, or lack of time, between his break up and the beginning of your relationship. People often need more time than a month to heal from such a monumental loss or change. He was with his ex for two years, which means it could take him quite a long time to be truly open to a new person.

Are you ready to be patient Leila? Because if you’re not, you need to move on now. This could be a long process. And frankly, he still seems emotionally “open” to his ex, which does not bode well for any type of new relationship. It sounds like they’re still in the “extracting stage,” which can sometimes involve emotional outbursts, passionate pleas, and even hooking up a few times. We would recommend keeping a low profile during this time. There’s certainly no reason you couldn’t date him and enjoy his company, but we might hold off on any more serious physical activity(sex) until he’s a bit more removed from her.

But break ups and beginnings are never really “clean” anyway, so even if he’s finally broken off all communication with his ex, or at least nothing more than the occasional phone call, if for some reason they try to remain friends, which is unlikely, he’s still going to have a place in his heart for the memories of that relationship. But it’s still possible to begin a new connection with you even after he’s truly extracted himself. And as things progress with you, hopefully, the luster of these memories will fade, and the more present moments with you will take over the forefront of his mind and heart. We just don’t think he’s quite ready yet.

We know you think this man is special but don’t wait forever, and don’t sacrifice everything just to be with him. What we mean is don’t sacrifice who you are and who you want to be, just to be with this man. Twenty years is quite a gap, and although it’s not impossible to bridge that gap, he has a lot of time on you where he’s explored and lived. Don’t stop living your life and pursuing your goals to be with him or any man. Stay true to yourself.

Keep us posted. Leave us a follow up comment or comments.


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67 Comments on Boyfriend still has feelings for his ex

  1. Hi guys! Met a wonderful man through a mutual friend about a month ago, and we’ve been out a handful of times since. Hooray – his behavior, and mutual friend, indicated fondness for me.

    In the week prior to meeting me, he’d extracted himself from a disastrous, short-term (6-7 months) live-in relationship (during second date, she suggested he move in with her; he did). Consequently, he wanted to take things very slowly and deliberately with me (I’d been through a difficult breakup a few months back and really appreciated his approach).

    A few days ago, he indicated that he’s still “not over” his ex. Perfectly understandable, and I’d suspected that to be the case given their history. He also said that he doesn’t want either of us to “friend zone” the other. I agreed. He asked if I was upset; pragmatic girl that I am, I said no, because although I really like him, I was cautious and not yet emotionally invested after four whole dates! I also expressed appreciation for his honesty.

    So we proceeded with our dinner date, enjoying each other, laughing and chatting. At end of evening, we hugged, he kissed my shoulder and then planted a nice one on my lips. Said he’d give a call.

    I replayed things, and after a night’s sleep, interpreted the prior night’s events to mean he enjoys my company and is maybe up for some light, fun dates but is in no place for a relationship. I shot him a little note thanking him for telling me where he’s at; assuring him I’ve been there and know it takes time to heal; mentioned that the timing for us is bad, emotional availability-wise; that I’m relationship-minded and not wishing to be FriendZoned or Rebound Girl; that I really like him and why I do; and that yeah, I’m a little disappointed with circumstances being as they are. Finished with some words about time healing all wounds; hang in there.

    He responded, “Thank you, that means a lot. You are a pretty exceptional person. Just bad timing.” (And our mutual friend – who is actually his best friend! – said that she got the same sentiment from him; it’s really not a personal thing.)

    My question: if he does call and wants to see me, how do I stay out of FriendZone and Rebound Girl territory? Do I ask him to contact me when he sorts out his feelings for ex, or do I go out with him without expectations (I’m going on dates with others, too, but I have a big crush on this one).

    In your experience, is someone in my situation seen as potential relationship material? Or am I best off to cut my losses and scramble without casting a glance backward?

  2. @Elle…….Our initial reaction is this: If he saw huge potential with you he might be trying harder to figure this all out. We don’t doubt that he still has feelings for his ex, but the fact that he hasn’t asked you to just be patient while he sorts this out indicates to us, that he thinks you’re great, but maybe slightly more in a friendly way. He’s quick to say this is bad timing. Of course that’s just our initial reaction. What do you think? If you agree, then we say, cut your losses and move on. Or at least give him some space to figure it out. If he comes back to you asking for another chance then you can reevaluate then.

  3. Genevieve // June 4, 2013 at 11:31 am //

    I’ve been dating this guy for 9 months and we’ve been on and off. He came out of a 9 year relationship and he started seeing me a month after. Everything was amazing in the beginning and i really thought he was the one but after a while he started to withdraw and told me he didnt think he was ready to be in a committed relationship. After several attempts at trying to let him go, he told me he didnt want to lose me. He really did like me and it was just bad timing. He does things to show he cares. He does bring me out to meet and hang out with his one group of friends. However, he hasnt brought me out to meet his university friends because they’re close mutual friends with the ex. We decided to be exclusive two months ago and I went on vacation for a couple of weeks. When I came back, I saw a couple of his texts telling his friend how he still misses the ex and he couldnt stop thinking about her even though it was him who broke up with her. He has made no attempt to contact her during those weeks i was gone and his sister told him to let things settle. He went to a wedding a couple of weeks later and the ex was there. He told me he talked to her and how he had gotten closure and its probably memories that he misses about her. Hes warming me up to the idea of finally meeting his parents and even trying to befriend the ex so it will reduce any awkwardness when he finally introduces me to his university friends. Should I continue to wait and be patient while he lets go or am I kidding myself? I sometimes feel like I’m his rebound helping him try and get over her. I really like this guy and he says he likes me back but he tells everyone that he’s not able or not willing to be that serious with me yet. Please help.

  4. Raphaela // July 27, 2013 at 2:29 am //

    Me and my boyfriend have been dating for about 2 months now. But I’m still caught up with one of my exes. The worst part about it is that is his best friend. And I want to be honest and not keep any secrets but I know that if I tell him he will get mad. We will immediately get into an argument and most likely brake up. I love my boyfriend and don’t want to end our relationship. So I need advise how do I tell him that a still have romantic feelings for my ex whom is also his best friend with out it ruining our relationship??? Please help me I need help ASAP!!!!! Please and thank you….. :)

  5. @Raphaela…….There’s no good way to tell him. You need to figure this out first. You don’t get to have both. Choose one. Our advice: There was probably a reason you broke up with your ex. Figure out what it was and focus on that. You’re only remembering the good stuff. ……. ps. If you really love your boyfriend the way you say you do then this shouldn’t be a problem. Without being too harsh, this sounds like a matter of maturity.

  6. You never know love could be so painful until you’ve got ur heart broken by the person u love most.

  7. Am a female ,my name is sam am 20. I was with this guy for 8months and we broke up 5months ago.He always communicates with family member to see if am ok when I wasn’t taking any calls or text. When we finally started say “hi” every now and then I notice some changes. He told me the truth about him lying when we were together and that he has moved on shortly after we broke up,but now he’s saying he still loves n cares for me even though he has a new girlfriend. He calls and text everyday. What do yall suggest? I still love him.

  8. I met on-line last winter a very nice guy. I really was not too interested in him at first…But he was very sweet, good to me, ect. and I guess you could say he really grew on me the more we talked and were together. He had been very open about getting his heart broken months before by his fiancé leaving him for another man. She did this twice, he took her back , and then she left him again for the same person months later. Needless to say he was crushed and devastated. In the beginning of our courtship he was very hot on the pursuit with me. Seemed just crazy about me, and I was flattered but a little freaked out and told him we needed to slow down as we are still getting to know one another. Well, we dated for about 3 months and then HE started to became distant, very withdrawn from me. Almost like he did a 180. At this point I really have feelings for him and care for him and not interested in dating other men. We get into a slight argument on the phone and he hangs up on me. Well, we never spoke again and I thought it was the end of that. Fast forward to 4 Months later which is now, I get in the actual mail a 2.5 page letter from him. Asking for my forgiveness, saying how great, wonderful, beautiful I was, basically saying he was an angry person as a result of his Ex and didn’t realize it. That he was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode and that I happened to be the recipient. he said he used the time we were apart to work on himself and didn’t date at all. He said he spent so much time loving someone that didn’t deserve it that he was blinded great to something in front of him… He was very sorry and said he very much wanted to be a part of my life again if I would have him. It was a very kind letter and I called him and of course forgave him and said no hard feelings. Sooo here is where I don’t know what to think. We have seen each other a few times since then and have texted and called some in-between but it is still Very slow. When I see him we act like we are dating (kissing, affectionate, we have been intimate). I asked him what his intentions are with me and he said he really didn’t know. I can tell he just doesn’t want to ‘open up’ so I try to just act cool. I really like him and have feelings for him but I can’t figure him out. Is this a case of emotionally unavailable? I know he cares for me, as we would not of taken the time to write me after 3 months- But its kind of driving me crazy. sometimes I hear from him on a regular basis, and then it will go a week without talking . I do let him initiate all texting/calling to the point where he asked me why I never texted him first and wondered if I was upset. Since he said that I have been trying to text him a little here and there. It is just hard for me to understand if he thinks I am just sooo great then why can’t he give me more like he did at first? It makes me feel like he is not interested in me and has been so confusing. Will he get over his ex? When we do talk he wants to know if i am dating or what ive been up too, def. seems jealous but doesnt make plans with me so i dont get it, its like we are phone friends and i am not sure how to handle this?? Please help !

  9. Stephanie // October 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm //

    I’m desperate. I met my current boyfriend 2 years ago. We met at work. He had a relationship that was falling apart. They broke up, he had been living with her so after the break up he was sleeping in his truck so I offered him my second bedroom and we became roommates/friends with benefits. 1 year ago I ended up pregnant…5 months into the pregnancy we became boyfriend and girlfriend. We currently have a 3 month old together. Now here’s the problem. He’s mean/rude to me 70% of the time. Complaining that I don’t act like what a good girlfriend should, cleaning, saving money. He wasn’t there when our baby was born cause he had to work…..yea……and also has doubts if she is his baby so we had the DNA test done (even though I knew she was his) and yes the test results came back he is the father. But he’s still just mean to me. He makes me deal so small. Belittling me. I asked about a girl on Facebook that I didn’t like how she talked to him (super flirty) and he said she was just one of his best friends and was here before me and to never “come at him like that again”. But I’m his girlfriend. I have that right, right? We hardly have sex anymore. He has never done anything sweet or romantic for me. I’ve cried to him trying to explain how I feel and he gets mad and tells me to grow up/toughen up. I’m so hurt by how he treats me. We don’t even tell each other we love each other…and I do love him, I’m just afraid if I yell him he wouldn’t say it back. I feel like he still has problems with the past. Didn’t get closure from the ex She cheated on him and crushed his heart, hurt him bad and I feel like he takes it out on me and won’t let me in cause of her. He’s got major trust issues. What should I do??? Should I give up and move on/break it off?? Or keep trying and if so how?! Please…someone help. I want our daughter to have her mama and daddy. To have the family life I had….

  10. Hey guys! Love the site and had to donate so you guys can keep giving advice! Anyways, under this question, I’m actually the EX that a guy still has feelings for and I’m just as confused. We dated last year and since we broke up in June, we have always kept in touch. Sometimes weekly for a few months. Well, we went on a few dates in Aug but then I had to travel for almost a month so it was back to the friend zone. In Sept, we went on a casual lunch outing and he didn’t say anything out of the ordinary until a week later, I got a text stating “I need to talk to you, I started dating someone but I feel a pit in my stomach because I have feelings for you. I don’t know how you feel about me or would want anything more with me. I wish you would tell me how you feel about me.”. Okay, it sounds like he is begging right? Well, that was one of our problems was that I wasn’t very expressive/communicative with my feelings. I’m very closed off because of past relationships so it’s hard for me to say things even though I do love him. It’s easier for my to text and message him how I feel because I’m not pressed for time or put on the spot. He was surprised at what I wrote and that I told him I would love to give it another shot. We have gone back and forth and I have told him that he will need to be patient with me but I will get to the point that he needs and that is important to him. I know that is my flaw and I am working on them. He is worth it, no one else have been worth it. I would usually run from these situations and leave the relationship instead of dealing with it. Anyways, he last messaged me that he will also ask for patience from me. What?!?!?! Why should I be patient? I’m not sure where he is going so I asked him and he wants to meet so we can talk face to face because he would like to hear me say these things that I have never spoken to him before. He didn’t answer my question either. Just great right? So what does he mean by patience on my part? By being the ex-girlfriend who is being contacted, do you guys reach out to us because you want to try again before it gets serious with the new girl?

  11. @The Ex…..Thanks for your donation and kind words. We do appreciate it. And yes, it’s good you got this question in now because we’re not sure how much longer we might be doing this. To your question: We have to make some assumptions here. Please correct us if we’re wrong. 1. You had the upper hand in the initial relationship. Don’t mean that in a bad way, just that, it happens. 2. You broke up with him and he was bummed. 3. Your recent “dating” hasn’t just been about sex. (Otherwise we’d have to assume he just wants to keep having sex with you instead of getting back with you.) With those assumptions in mind what he said to you makes a lot of sense. He was hurt by you, and it’s going to take him some time to trust you again. (Yes a role-reversal.) This other woman represents safety, or rather, safety in numbers. He has no idea how it will play out with you so he’s going to keep her around until he’s sure, and then, we can’t even say for sure that he’ll trust you again. This is going to take some time on his part, and it sounds like, on your part. So we have to ask the question: Are you sure about this? You must have had a reason that you broke up with him in the first place. So are you sure this just isn’t you feeling lonely, or seeing him moving on? It happens a lot. We’d hate for you to get back into it only to realize that your initial feelings—that you didn’t want the relationship—materialize again. (Which is what he’s worried about as well.) Our suggestion: Give this a lot of thought. And then have a heart-to-heart with him when you see him. And that conversation might lead to many more heart-to-hearts. Communication is the key here. And try not to confuse things with lots of sex until you straighten this all out. Make sense? Any follow-up questions? Good luck and keep us posted.

  12. Thanks guys for the quick response. He was the chaser the first time around and I felt suffocated to say the least. I’d get the good morning and good night text and 10 more in between during the day when I didn’t see him. He’s very expressive with his feelings and touchy/feely to the point that I freeze because I don’t know how to react or respond. He likes to hold hands across the table and stares longingly into my eyes — YES, just like the romance novels! I’ve never been treated or have met anyone like him. He’s also very sensitive and he requires verbal and actions as validation of how I feel so that was the main problem with us. He states that I only showed my love and feelings through my actions. I know it too because I hold things very close to my heart which makes it easier to let go and move on when things don’t work out. I don’t throw the “I Love You” around loosely as some poeple do. It is also easier for me to express my feelings via email (preferably also in the dark works well!)because we are not face to face and this is why he wants to meet and talk. He wants to see if this is something that will be possible for us since it is important to him. I know it is important in a relationship for people to get validation and I’ve always received it but my flaw is that i don’t give it and I know it. This guy just seems worth it but I just want to make sure his mind and heart is there before I expose myself to an area that rarely gets exposed. I don’t want to get stringed along and I don’t want be an option since there is another girl in the picture. Even though he have only dated her for 2 months, I still worry that he will stay where he is even though he seems to be making an effort to talk about our issues.

  13. @The Ex……..Thanks for filling us in. We still wonder if maybe there’s a reason you’ve held back with him. Is it possible that even though he’s a great guy that you’re just not “feeling” it? We’re just asking the question. If you do truly care for this guy then you need to get more expressive and tell him how you feel and what you want. There are no guarantees of course. But that’s the only way to be in a relationship. If you don’t let go you’ll never fully be engaged in a relationship. You have to give to get. There’s no other way to go about it. Relationships are risky, but that’s what makes them so wonderful. Good luck.

  14. Hi guys,
    I love this site, and especially your responses and the male perspective definitely gives me insight!!!
    My predicament is that I’m in a relationship with my boyfriend for over a year – we moved in after six months together – his idea, and it was completely practical at the time. Plus we are both thirty and know what we want. For 90% of the time we get along really well, same interests and humour. And great physical attraction. He’s affectionate and sweet and listens to me. I was previously in a relationship for 8 years though that left me insecure and jealous. I’m in therapy trying to fix this… My current boyfriend is all about being happy in life and he really wants me to be happy too. So! The problem, at the start of our relationship I asked too many questions about his exes, I know I know!!! This left me insecure about one in particular – he went out with her for a year and a half and they split up 3 years ago. She had a young son from a previous relationship – but the father was not around and so my boyfriend was like his dad while he was with her. She was mean and controlling to him and eventually he decided to break up with her. He said it took until he met me to realise that he was over it, and losing the child too. My problem is that he still goes and looks at her facebook page at least 3 days a week. So I’m worried he’s not over her and that this is eventual going to lead to me being hurt. We’ve argued about it and he says he is angry with her, and angry with himself about letting her treat him that way, and that he effectively lost a son. He says it’s not about her it’s more about himself. He says that me bringing it up keeps her fresh in his mind. That his way of processing his feelings comes from knowing that when he doesn’t feel anger or whatever by looking at her page then it will stop. He won’t unfriend or block her because he says that gives her the power and make him look weak. He did stop looking at her page for a few months because he told me he would. But we had a big argument recently about my insecurities and he’s back doing it again! :-( did I create this monster by bringing her up.?? He told me he doesn’t want her brought up again with me because it creating tension between us and he just wants to be happy. He’s such a good boyfriend in every other way. He talks of marriage and babies with me someday and I know if I can get past this, then we could be so happy together!! I’m happy to support him and never talk about her again as long as I know that she will fade from his thoughts someday and I won’t feel worried that he thinks about her all the time. I know I can’t control his thoughts but oh how I wish I could sometimes!! He invited me to a party that she might be at soon. It’s a traditional thing he goes to every year where he was brought up(she lived there too) so she might be there. He hasn’t brought a girlfriend before so I guess that’s a good thing.
    Anyway, my question is: do you think I need to worry so much? I know he wouldn’t cheat and he tells me I don’t need to worry. I just wish he’d stop looking at her page. But I can’t tell him what to do and I promised I would stop bringing her up!!
    Thanks so much for any advice you might have :-)

  15. Hi,
    I’ve been with my ex for 8 yrs, engaged for last two. I met him when I was very young in college and he was my first real relationship. We had a very strong connection, something that I don’t think I’ll ever find with anyone. Since we went to school together there are lots of memories involved. I was very afraid of marriage and having kids and I told him from the beginning I might never have kids but I don’t know if I ever change my mind. We became sexually active 3 yrs after we met, he respected my culture, then my health issues started, bladder issue( which affected my sex life tremendously to a pt I wasn’t even having sex, then depression then endometriosis and the last thing was a herniated disc, our relationship became rocky before my back injury and I would start fights but I felt like he wasn’t emotionally supportive enough. He had communication issues where he would shut down and not respond as a result I would get more mad. I was in so much pain I couldn’t even work. He thought I want being supportive of him since he was losing his grandma in hospice. I asked for a break. He packed his stuff and moved to his parents, called them 2 wks later found his grandma passed away and he’s in another country for he funeral. I was so mad that he didn’t even text me to tell me he’s leaving. I moved to my parents and asked him to come over when he comes back. That didnt go well, he came over, I heard him saying shot about me to my parents about me so I got mad and we had a talk that ended up me telling him that I’m tired of him not being there fore and that I didn’t love him. I said it out of anger. He said he loves me and he will forever. Since then we just texted each other about apt issues and I ignored last few texts. We never really broke up. Since then I have gone through a back surgery, still dealing with more back issues, lost my job, was diagnosed with acid reflux and don’t know when everything will be ok. It’s been 10 months since I’ve talked to him. I saw his Facebook profile with a new gf, I was devastated that he’s moved on so fast but not jealous d/t the girl being ugly and old, physically she’s everything he hates. I’ve come to have mixed emotions about him and my situation and wanted to kill myself. I do believe in psych readings so contacted this lady and asked about my situation and whether he still likes me, she said he will always love you. This was exactly what he tolde. She said he doesn’t love this girl and she’s brainwashing him and causing issues and they won’t last. I wish she said he hated me, she opened my unsealed wound. I feel guilt, regret, have no self worth and need closure from him and need to apologize. I don’t think we would ever workout though, but I still care for him and miss the friendship aspect of it. I was going to email h but what if he turns me down? I can’t stop crying. I just don’t know what’s the right thing to do. I have no plans of ruining his current relationship. Please help! I hate myself so much.

  16. In my case his ex broke up with him. She moved on very fast and he is very wounded. They were basically married for 4 years. He has been great with me all the time we were together 3 months, but I left town because of work and might not come back for one year. We talked about he being wounded and not quite ready to open his heart entirely, and he knew I was leaving from the beginning, but at the same time got very attached and emotional with me. We keep in contact and constantly updating each other about our lives. And I keep hearing from other friend he is still ice cold with his ex who seems to want to be friends with him but that he is not over her bad behavior during break up. He wasn’t a saint as well… Anyway, I guess I wonder if I am investing my energy in a lost cause. I am growing attached to him but I am not sure about the future. That’s an issue with both of us. Distance is complicated. I guess we both can’t promise anything, but still try somehow. My posture is very much like wait and see. I just wonder if I fit the rebound girl position I see so often quoted here, or if a guy who is hurt can let it go after a while.
    I am afraid of growing more distant and losing him, I like him a lot, but also don’t know if it is healthy to keep so attached to something so uncertain. I can’t ask him to be more clear about his own plans for the future being I am uncertain myself.
    We have a very respectful dynamic, and don’t expose ourselves to much, not allowing each other be in vulnerable positions.

    Any insights?

  17. Hi guys! Well, i’m in quite a different situation. I’ve been seeing this guy since last 3-4 months and we have an open honest relationship, we both love each other and understand eachother so much. The situation is he was in love with this woman who was married to some other guy. I dont know if I can call her his ex coz they weren’t really in a relationship, just the mutual feeling of love. He says that their relationship had no future coz she couldnt leave her husband n so now they are just friends. They talk or chat sometimes. But I get so jealous over that, sometimes I feel like he wont get over her ever coz he keeps checking on her. But when he’s with me, we have so much fun, laughs. We both love each other’s company. But sometimes I dont know about how to react when he brings up something about her. I’m so confused coz I really have feelings for him. But what if he doesn’t get over her? I dont really know if he still loves her or what feelings he has for her. but seems like he still has feelings for her. And sometimes to me it feelis like he’s with me coz he cant be with her. I need a guy’s opinion. What do I do? Give him time? What if his feelings for her dont change??

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