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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018
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Dear Fifi: Even after six years, I'm convinced my fiancé isn't over his ex

Tuesday, you know what that means. Well, lots of stuff – but also Dear Fifi.

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Spooky Halloween time! Darker evenings, the noise of fireworks and scent of real fires, and black bin bags masquerading as costumes. The stuff dreams are made of, really.

Where in the world is Dear Fifi? Honestly, I have no idea. What I do know is that you can contact me any time using this anonymous website and I’ll do my best to answer your problems

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I’m with my other half 6 years. He came out of a 10 year relationship before we got together. He didn’t seem fully over the relationship at first, with sadness and other stuff there for a while when we were together. But over the last 6 years it has become clear we are very much compatible. We have a very loving, close relationship. 

His family were very much a fan of his ex. He would talk about her on occasion at the beginning and so would his family. Not too much, but anecdotally. I understood as they had been together a long time and shared history.

She hasn’t been mentioned in quite some time. He proposed to me on holiday in Italy and we were due to pick out the ring tomorrow. We were watching TV tonight and a family story came on so he said “ when Lyndsay and I were together…” He went on to tell a long story about his ex. I cut him off and told him I wasn’t interested in hearing about his ex or her family. I too have a complicated family and it felt like he was more interested in taking about his ex’s family than anything else.

I just feel very betrayed and that the last 6 years have meant nothing. How can his ex be so close in his thoughts? And how can her family situation be such a passionate subject for him when he seems to not care about mine? Sometimes I feel that he got into a relationship with me too soon after his last ended (three months) and that he wasn’t over the last one and ready for a new one. We are now talking about kids and marriage, but I am wary of someone who still speaks about their ex so easily when mine are the furthest thing from my mind.

I think there are two issues at play here, and both hinge around communication and differing expectations.

Firstly, I think you are perhaps overreacting somewhat to his idle comments about his ex. Something on telly reminded him of her situation, and he felt comfortable enough to bring her up casually. 

He was with her for an entire decade. It might make you uncomfortable to think about, but that’s a large percentage of someone’s adult life. He evidently feels relaxed enough about it to mention her freely with you, which I think is a good sign. If he was skulking around or hiding elements of his past from you, that’d be more of an issue. 

People have different feelings around exes, and that’s why you must communicate with him. Be honest: let him know that hearing about his ex-girlfriend makes you feel insecure and jealous, like he’s still thinking about her. I’m sure he will reassure that it’s not like that – it’s like mentioning an old friend from college or someone you knew from work years ago. She’s part of his story and might come up from time to time, but that doesn’t lessen his feelings for you.

It sounds like you need to hear that from him, so just ask. Ask for what you need. He’s your partner, so don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Don’t accuse him of anything or go in all guns blazing, just explain how you feel and ask for his reassurance.

He’s with you because he wants to be with you. He asked you to marry him. He is sharing his life with you. He has talked about having children with you. All of these things are much stronger signals of commitment and dedication than mentioning his ex. He can’t very well pretend she doesn’t exist. There’s no comparison between you two, it’s just a different part of his life. It’s all over, though, remember that. You’re the current part of his life.

Secondly, you only mention it in passing – but why do you think that your partner “seems not to care” about your complicated family background? What makes you think this? Has this been an issue before? That, to me, would be a much larger issue than occasionally mentioning his ex when she pops into his head. If you’re going to embark on a joint life together, you need to know he cares and is supportive, especially when it comes to emotional family issues. Again, he’ll only know this is a problem if you tell him how you feel.

The crux of this whole thing is that the only way this issue will be resolved is through talking  to him. You say in your longer letter than you two get one another, have a great relationship and are lucky to have one another. Open with that, then let him reassure you about these things you’re feeling. This should be a happy, joyous time of celebration! Don’t let the past get you down or start ruining what’s going on right now. Start talking and be open with him so he knows what you need, how you feel and how to move on from here.

He’s with you because he wants to be. Don’t forget that. The past is just that: the past. We can’t change it and we rarely want to go back. You’re his present and his future. That’s much more important. 

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Want to talk?

Confess a story, ask for help or just shout into the void for a bit and see if that helps. All welcome. Anonymity totally guaranteed always.  

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