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Dating Advice #94 - Smoldering Ex-Flame
Dating Advice 94

Dating Advice #94 - Smoldering Ex-Flame

He's still friends with a woman he used to date, and it's making his new date batty.


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am have been dating a man for eight months. He insists on remaining friends with the woman he used to date. He goes to her house and sometimes they eat dinner together. He said that she has a boyfriend, so I have nothing to worry about. I know this is true because I called her house one day and this other guy answered the phone. (I then said I had the wrong number.)

When I told the man I’m dating that I wanted to meet this other woman, he said that she refused to meet me. I called her house with his permission and asked if we could meet. She hung up on me. When I then told him about the phone call, he told me to never call there again.

How can I be sure that something isn't going on between them if she won't meet me?


Dear Laureen,

We don't think that people who were once very involved in a relationship should remain good friends after they break up. There are two reasons for this. One is that the friendship may keep them from moving forward; even if they begin dating someone else in the future, they divert some of their emotional energies into the past, at the expense of the future. They may think that this is harmless, but the fact is that they had developed a certain amount of emotional familiarity, and can't help but continue this along in friendship.

The other reason we are against prolonging such friendships is because it causes precisely the feelings that you are experiencing. You may be worried that the man you are dating will go back to this other woman. Even with his reassurances we can see how you might worry. You have to decide for yourself whether the old romance is really over, or if he unconsciously hopes to resume dating this other woman. Even if you are not worried that this may happen, you may feel cheated emotionally because you want this man to put all his attention into developing your courtship.

There's a very strong likelihood that the man you are dating simply can't grasp the reasons why his continued friendship with this other woman is so troubling to you. He may think that if he doesn't have any interest in dating her again, it isn't a problem. You may not be able to convince him otherwise. If you cannot, then you'll have to decide if you can continue dating him or not.

If you decide to continue dating him, however, we suggest that you let go of the thought of meeting this other woman. We don't see any useful purpose in doing so; satisfying your curiosity is only going to make the other woman uncomfortable, and if you think there's competition you need to size up, you probably shouldn't be dating this man in the first place.

Good luck,

Rosie & Sherry

January 19, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 10

(10) L, February 2, 2011 8:14 PM

This is ridiculous

Everyone who is trashing this article trying to use New Age philosophy, you obviously don't have a clue as to what you're talking about. The primary tenet of Zen Buddhism is that, yes, we're all connected - however we must strive to reduce attachment, particularly unhealthy ones, in a fashion that's compassionate. From what I can see in the OPs post, her boyfriend has an UNHEALTHY attachment to his ex-girlfriend. This article doesn't address it - but basically it's telling this woman that she needs to let go of her attachment (attempt to control) to her boyfriend's actions. And while considering this information that he has an unhealthy attachment to his ex-girlfriend, himself, make a decision whether it's necessary to Let Go of her relationship. Seems sound to me.

(9) Secret, January 13, 2003 12:00 AM

Has everyone gone crazy?

For those of you who don't agree with the advice given in this article, you just don't know what it takes to have and enjoy a meaningful relationship. Go back to school!

(8) Anonymous, April 29, 2002 12:00 AM

your advice is very sad

"We don't think it is a good idea for people who were once very involved in a relationship to remain good friends after they break up." Ouch! What a sad, frightened view of the world. Secure, confident people are happy that their partner has meaningful relationships with other people, and doesn't feel threatened by them.

In this case, the fact that the guy has placed the ex-gf off-limits and the ex-gf hung up the phone suggests that the relationship has serious communication problems. But, to generalize this as you have done is a huge mistake.

(7) Anonymous, April 17, 2002 12:00 AM

This is the worst site I have ever been on it is appaling how u depend on males so much. your are programing womans minds so they think they need men well trust me they don't! Sort your heads out you'll be a lot better off!

(6) paul berkowitz, March 15, 2002 12:00 AM


Your comments reflect such insecurity, hatred and disrepect for other people's feelings you should both look deeply at yourselves in the mirror and ask how can I start all over again. How could you pawn this stuff off as advice for relationships when you are committed to people breaking off contact with each other. Where on earth is the feeling, compassion and wisdom that is needed in this world for people to make it a better place. Go do a ten day retreat at Insight Meditation in Barre Mass. or do a retreat at Zen Mountain Manestry or go go off to some religious retreat of your choosing and ask yorself one simple question: "Am I saying something that will make this world a better place for people to live in or am I saying something that perpetuates selfishness, fear and insecurity"?

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