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Advice – I feel like I am living in my boyfriend’s ex’s life.

“I [24F] am in a new relationship (1 month or so) with a guy [24M] I met on Reddit. Before dating me, he had a fiance. They had plans to move in together and get married, but they ended things last summer.

The reason I’m writing is because in a lot of ways I feel like I’m living his ex’s life. When I go visit him in the next few weeks, I’m going to be staying in the house that he and his ex were going to live in together. Sleeping in the bed that they slept in together. Being with the dogs that they got together. Everything was hers first and it’s always on my mind.

It’s a very weird feeling, and part of me wants to leave and be with someone where I can create a life with them from scratch vs entering someone’s already made life that they left behind.

Am I being overdramatic? Are these feelings normal/has anyone felt them before? None of my friends have ever been in a situation like this so I don’t really have anyone to turn to.”

Anonymous on /r/relationship_advice.

Photo by Кристина Александрова on

Dear Anonymous,

It is very rare that you’ll encounter someone who has absolutely no baggage from their previous relationships, especially so in their twenties or thirties. We are battletested through our relationships and as a result accrue scars that remind us what treacherous journey we’ve conquered.

It has only been a handful of months since his last relationship with his ex-fiancee collapsed. Six months is a long time to grieve the loss of potential future with another person. And from what it sounds like, he has communicated with you the kind of intense relationship he is now coming off of. He took an ownership of his relationship trauma and looks to be sufficiently allowing his new relationship with you to grow and develop.

Your feelings of anxiety is also normal. It makes sense that you’re feeling a little jarred by how much space his ex-fiancee used to occupy in his life, a void you have to see every time you see your partner. But you too have to recognize and accept that his relationship with his ex-fiancee are over. While your boyfriend has had several months to process the end of their relationship, you haven’t had that same time.

Photo by Pixabay on

But perhaps there is another point to be made here as well.

Not a point about if you’re being too overdramatic about what is happening. And not a point about how to accept your partner’s loss. But I want to say something about what our past relationships say about us. A lot of folks get caught up on the type of ex that their partners have had, and whether it reflects poorly on their relationship because they are either too similar or too different from their partner’s previous partners. It is important to keep an eye on the past, especially if it is an alarming series of dealbreaker behaviors (i.e. repeat experiences of infidelity on their part). But it is more important to stay grounded in your own reality and own experiences as well.

It has only been one month since you started seeing this man. There was a good reason why your boyfriend was engaged to his ex-fiancee. And even more compelling reasons on why they’re no longer together. So please take some time to reflect on the things you appreciate about the relationship you have with him regardless of what came before you. It’s the least you can do for him who is appreciating the relationship he has with you regardless of what came before him.

Last thing I’ll add is that while your feelings have substance and an origin, not every feeling needs to be acted upon. Recognize this discomfort for what it is: your insecurity regarding his past. And then decide if you want to do something about getting over that insecurity for yourself. You can own your own feelings, and still mindfully share your own journey through conquering this particular insecurity by tracing your thoughts with your partner after you have gotten a better grip on managing this insecurity. I’m sure he will have some part to explain for himself as well.

Good luck!

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

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Categories: Advice


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