Ex Factor

  • Feb 29, 2012 2:12 PM GMT
    Hey everyone, I'm new here.

    I've been thinking a lot about my relationship and decided to get advice from you guys. Maybe you've been through something similar? Or you can actually see things in perspective?

    I've been together for 2 years with my boyfriend, we're really in love, actually this is by far the best relationship I ever had.
    There is, however, something that starts to bug me. He still owns a house with his ex, and lives in there during the week. Ok, this might seem bizarre so let me tell you guys the story.
    We met over Winter holidays, I had gone back to Birmingham for a while and went on gaydar to look for some holiday affair. Since day one we've been always together, me sleeping over his place that he bought with his ex some time ago. They've been together for 6 years, and broke up 3 years ago but somehow they decided to keep the place together for some reason (we're-adults-and-things-can-work-out-fine kind of thing). This didn't bother me at all in the beginning, since I thought I was only having a short affair and I couldn't care less about their lives, but then over time we REALLY fell in love and decided to be together.
    His ex is kind of friendly to me but somehow i feel like it's an act, there's a lot of subtle bitchiness and somehow i feel like he's giving me the evil eye all the time.
    I believe there's nothing at all going on between them, but the ex is this kind of dominant slightly manipulative cunt who will never go away. Somehow, i feel like he's this tyrant who deep down wants everything. Plus, there's pictures of them together in some tacky holiday in spain in one of the rooms, which is kind of offensive in my opinion. Even at my in-laws place, there's a picture of them together. Somehow, i feel like there's this horrible power play going on where the ex tries to compete with me at everything. He even got this horrible dog after I moved in who shits and vomits everywhere. Once I had a friend visiting us and he gave him the "the trash brought more trash" attitude. Me and my boyfriend only had a serious argument once, not relating to this situation,and he went to confide in his ex our problems. His ex reply was "Well, you know what you're dealing with." Plus the ex is always asking him favors, like to take care of that horrible dog when he goes on holidays with his new boyfriend or one of his fag hags. Or he invites him to dinner when I'm out of town at fancy places.

    Meanwhile, I've went back to London to do my PhD, and rented this place together with my boyfriend since he comes on weekends because his practice is based in Birmingham and obviously he can't ditch that. It's a kind of temporary situation, since when I start working again we'll probably settle together in some permanent place. However, I still go to Birmingham sometimes and have to deal with all this person-from-the-past situation.

    In the beginning i didn't care but now is starting to bug me. I mean, I can't just ask him to sell out his property, but I think this whole situation is not healthy at all. Breaking up with my boyfriend is out of question, he's the one (and I don't say this lightly). What should I do?
  • rafiki87

    Posts: 331

    Feb 29, 2012 3:23 PM GMT
    Step 1: both of you should acknowledge that there is some form of conflict.

    Step 2: ask yourself the following questions - how important is it that I get my way in this situation? how important is this relationship with the person I'm in conflict with?

    Step 3: communicate a clear message

    I see - tell him the facts of the situation

    I think - tell him your interpretation, opinion or thoughts on the matter

    I feel - tell him how this makes you feel or what state of mind this situation is putting you in

    I need - tell him what you would like to see done or what you would like to do - i.e. talk about how/why this situation is bothering you.

    Step 4: active listening

    listen to his side of the story. set aside any biases you may have on the situation. make sure you get the true message and the emotions. always ask leading questions, that way you understand fully. acknowledge that there may be feelings involved.

    Step 5: determine conflict management strategy

    shark - you get your way no matter what even though it pisses the other people off. nothing wrong with this solution especially if it is a situation where you have to make a split decision and there's no time to discuss the decision.

    turtle - you avoid the situation all together and hope that it blows over. good if the conflict doesn't really matter to you. this would be good for when you're arguing over what to order for take-out, or what movie to watch.

    teddy bear - you give in and work to accommodate fully.

    fox - you find a compromise

    owl - you work together to find a solution that both you and the other party are truly happy with, in other words, collaborate.

    Step 6: apply conflict management strategy

    Step 7: evaluate conflict management strategy

    did it work? did it not work? why or why not?

    you must do this step both as an individual and as a couple to be effective

    Step 8: debrief the situation

    what? - factual type questions regarding the situation at hand (i.e. what did we learn from this? how can we prevent similar conflicts from happening again? what discreet ways can you communicate to your bf that the ex is making you feel uncomfortable?)

    so what? - importance/relevance type questions

    now what? - what changes will you as a couple apply?

  • Feb 29, 2012 3:33 PM GMT
    Thanks for the answer Rafiki87. I am aware of all this strategies, i was wondering what might be your opinion on the situation? Is this normal and it happens all the time and I'm over reacting or do you find it bizarre?
  • Buddha

    Posts: 1818

    Feb 29, 2012 5:07 PM GMT
    Zaneinthewoods said Plus, there's pictures of them together in some tacky holiday in spain in one of the rooms

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    Feb 29, 2012 5:16 PM GMT
    IM NEW TOicon_biggrin.gif
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    Feb 29, 2012 6:04 PM GMT
    Of course I thought of Lauryn Hill's song when I saw the title of this thread!

    Here's a pretty cool cover.

  • Feb 29, 2012 6:14 PM GMT
    Maybe subconsciously I was thinking about her, thanks for the reference. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Feb 29, 2012 6:35 PM GMT
    Sounds like you need to have the 'where are we going with relationship? as i feel I'm the 3rd wheel in this relationship'. Be prepared for the possibility that he picks the ex over you.
  • rafiki87

    Posts: 331

    Feb 29, 2012 8:16 PM GMT
    Zaneinthewoods saidThanks for the answer Rafiki87. I am aware of all this strategies, i was wondering what might be your opinion on the situation? Is this normal and it happens all the time and I'm over reacting or do you find it bizarre?

    Granted it's an uncomfortable situation, from what I see, it's an issue that needs to be addressed.

    Thing about gay relationships, there are no strict guidelines that you must adhere to unlike a heterosexual relationship and expecting something that looks like a straight relationship/dynamic is just heteronormative.

    All I have to say about the dynamic is, if it works for the both of you and you're both happy, then it should be fine. From what you've raised, it's not working at all for you and clearly you're bothered by it.

    In the gay realm, nothing is normal. icon_smile.gif
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    Mar 01, 2012 2:06 AM GMT
    You told us how the ex treats you, how does your boyfriend act when it happens, and in general how does he treat his ex? I don't think I would like my bf going out to fancy restaurants with an ex... (although he doesn't have one)

    It seems like you have been good with tolerating the situation, better than most people would be. How much longer until you two will be able to live together and he won't be in the house with his ex any more?

  • Mar 01, 2012 2:21 PM GMT
    Thanks for the answers guys!

    He's very subtle in his nastiness, my boyfriend thinks it's just his temper, and if I push the subject I know I'll come across as jealous paranoid, which I don't want to . They are friends, in the way flat mates are. But i guess my boyfriend is also getting tired of him. Recently he was hospitalized and I had to be the one texting the ex "Sorry, he's feeling tired today." because he wanted to come and visit every day to talk about the dog and his problems at work.
    I'm not against the idea of being friends with exes, but living together after 3/4 years of breaking up is just uncanny.

    I'll be finished with school in about 1-2 years, don't really know what is happening then. If I move to Birmingham there's no way I'm gonna live with both of them, I don't see any reason to share my life with his ex (neither my bf should have any). If I live somewhere else I guess he needs to go back during the week and I guess the situation will still be the same.

    My boyfriend already mentioned selling, but i think it's just a vague proposition that's not really happening anytime soon. It's such a nice place, I think the problem is that no one wants to move out/ or sell their part.

    On the other hand, i don't want to put any pressure on my boyfriend, I think he should get out of this situation (otherwise it will never change) by his own faculty and judgement.