What To Do About The Dreaded “Ex”…

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I remember Bill. He was gorgeous (just the kind of looks that made me weak), his body felt like it fit mine perfectly, and he was still so involved with his ex-wife it was like she was joined to him at the hip.

Looking back – I instantly want to ask myself “What was I thinking?” But I always come up with an answer, too – I always know that I thought I was “beating” her.  I thought I was “winning” him.

Nevermind that his life was littered with “friends” who were once girlfriends.

Nevermind that if the ex-wife needed ANYTHING (and she ALWAYS needed something) he was there in a flash.

Nevermind that he’d bring me places and forget to introduce me to his friends.

Nevermind that he never once referred to me as his “girlfriend.”

But I stayed with him – exclusively – for more than a year.  Until another woman came along.  And then I was no more than the “friend with benefits” I’d always been.

So how do you AVOID having it happen to you the way it did to me? (And I DID learn to never, ever let that happen to me again…)

First – never ever, and I mean NEVER become exclusive with a man unless you have EVERYTHING you want – the ring, the house, the wedding, the trip around the world – whatever it is that makes YOU feel like you have a great relationship that’s in the exact place you want it to be, AND you feel ABSOLUTELY SECURE inside that you are loved, cared for, and come FIRST in his life.

Alright – that’s a lot.

Most of us would think that’s extreme.  And yet it’s the ONLY way to feel strong inside, keep your boundaries going, keep your own LIFE moving forward no matter WHAT your man does or says.

And yes – it IS possible to be fully involved with a man – emotionally, sexually, spiritually and in every other way – and STILL keep your options open until you have all those “commitment” things you want.

More about how to do this in future posts – for now – I want you to IMAGINE doing this.

IMAGINE what it would be like to always keep your options open until YOU feel FIRST in his life.  Until the “ex” either disappears completely, or becomes simply the mother of his children and a friend of both of you in a way that feels GOOD to YOU.

Next we’ll work on the two parts of this “ex” thing – Boundaries so you NEVER feel resentful or angry about the situation, and Attraction so you can bring him closer without ANY effort.

Love, Rori



  1.  #1Linda B on September 18, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Rori, This is my relationship. Except I have been with him for 4 years. The last 3 were 7/24 . We were to gether always after work. HIs x moved to another state.
    last year. he helped her move . He claimed to be so happy to get her out of his hair. She called all the time
    and he would never allow her to know I was next to him. This bothered me.. alot.. She has the same boyfriend for 19 years.. Did I tell you. my boyfriend and her were married for 1 year and divorced for 20 years.
    They do have a son in colledge.. and that is the only
    thing they talk about. Many times a day. I need your lessons and tools so much.. thank you !

  2.  #2Rori Raye on September 18, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Linda – you don’t say if you have all that you want. I hear that you’re utterly committed – it sounds like you’re living together – and do you want marriage? Is he dragging his feet?

    I don’t know what his emotional connection is with this “ex” other than the son – and only YOU know how you FEEL with him. If you feel like Number 1, if you feel loved, if you feel good with him – then all is well, regardless of this “other” woman.

    Now is the time to grow the attraction between you and your man even more, so that his energy is coming towards you more, so you feel even more loved and secure. Take a look at the page about my Modern Siren program – there’s a lot of free information that will help you understand the “Emotional Road” to his heart. Love, Rori

  3.  #3KM on November 16, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    What if the other woman is his mother, she hates you, and you know for a fact she talks bad about you and writes letters about how bad you are to her son about you? You are married, and this problem didn’t crop up until you had children, and your husband fought a bought of depression. She tries to exclude you, and since you and your husband aren’t in the best of places he is listening to her, and taking the kids down when you are busy. She comes over when she knows you won’t be home, and told your husband that you weren’t wanted at her birthday trip. It was just a fun family trip for them, not for you or the kids. The whole family, and now your husband included, has managed to make you feel like a doormat, and that you are no good.

  4.  #4Rori Raye on November 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    KM – what’s going on with you and your husband? Did something happen? What triggered your mother-in-law’s fury? What triggered your husband’s depression? Why doesn’t she want to be with the kids on her birthday, even if she doesn’t want you?

    Basically – if you can get your marriage back on track – loving, sexy and happy (even with your husband’s depressive tendencies) – he won’t listen to his mother, he’ll stick with you.

    Don’t fight her or talk about her with your husband. Stay with your feelings and use the Tools to revitalize your marriage. There’s a lot of anger going on here (likely the cause of his depression) – use my Tools to bring it out into the open and use it to build a strong bond between you instead of driving you in different directions. If you’re fighting with him – STOP now. Love, Rori

  5.  #5Helen on November 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Rory!
    I am just wondering how I keep my options open while I am involved with someone…. . I am very open and direct so if I am confronted, I would tell the truth. I don’t want him keeping his options open 🙂

  6.  #6Rori Raye on November 19, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Helen, welcome, and I believe you’ll get a lot of help here from everyone. “Keeping your options open” and Circular Dating” are for YOU – and the HOW of how you do it depends on your situation – so please go ahead and let us know the details so we can help you. For instance, Reshi is married, and if you follow her comments, you’ll see how she uses this concept for herself…Love, Rori

  7.  #7Susan on July 24, 2009 at 4:53 am

    I am becoming involved with a man who still seems too attached to his ex. They own a house together and he is reluctant to sell it or buy her out, they want to keep it and rent it out. He has not told her about me because he doesnt want to upset her but it upsets me and feels like we have to hide from her. He says it would hurt her too much to know about me. He doesnt understand that it is hurting me. How do I show this without getting angry?

  8.  #8marya on February 6, 2010 at 11:09 am

    dear Rori
    Do you think it helps to come with the marriage question when there are other women in his life and he gives them his attention?
    I am so afraid to come with this question.What if we get marry and he continue to have e-mail contact and coffee meeting with exes?
    I am so afraid to come with this commend,God

  9.  #9Rori Raye on February 6, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Marya, hi, and I wish I could help here, more. Is there a cultural basis for his behavior? I know of men who feel responsibility for women in their lives, even though they are no longer with them. It’s very, very difficult. I personally never would marry a man where putting our money together would damage my sense of control over my financial destiny. And – as you all know – I put my foot down about my man having lunch with any old girlfriend. Business meetings, I support. I don’t tolerate personal contact. Period. He knew that from day one, and that was the deal. He agreed to that when he married me, and I’ve never had a moment’s doubt about my personal issues and boundaries around that. So – follow YOUR feelings on this one…Love, rori

  10.  #10Alicia on March 31, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I want to suscribe to this post too. 🙂

  11.  #11maria on September 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    A man who has a cyber relationship with another woman outside of his wife/girlfriend is cheating.

  12.  #12Rori Raye on September 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    Maria – Welcome! I agree – and you know what? It doesn’t matter how you “label” it. It’ just plain-old doesn’t feel good to not be a man’s one-and-only. Love, Rori

  13.  #13Cherie on November 27, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Hi Rori,

    For just 3 months I have been seeing a man I met on a dating site. When we first met I was happily chatting to quite a few men and going on dates and he was just one of them, but I found I was more attracted to him than anyone else. However we did start a sexual relationship quickly and as soon as that happened I found I lost interest in other men I was chatting with/dating and I am sexually exclusive with this one man.

    I am finding the relationship challenging however. He has only separated from his wife in the past year and they have twin daughters. Although I did see him every weekend during the first month, since then he has usually been caught up with his ex and children at their house with renovations being made so that they can sell the house. He also says this is the only time he gets with his girls. He lives in share accommodation, not at the house. We usually see each other on a week night and occasionally he finds some time on weekend. The ex is emotionally unstable and texting him a lot. He has seen me at times and expresses how stressed he is by her outbursts and texts. However they have plans to all go to Fiji for Christmas, staying in the one room! He is feeling very apprehensive about this plan but says it will be ok, he agreed to it and wants to be with his kids at Christmas.

    Ok so besides the difficult situation with his ex, he has said to me that he does not want to rush into a committed exclusive relationship and we are both free to date other people. He says he has only been having sex with me but does still chat and occasionally meet other people. He says he wants us to do this because he has had a couple of upsetting experiences getting to know women this year who then dump him and he doesn’t want that to happen again. He says he wants to always have me in his life whether we develop into a committed relationship or are just friends. This seems similar to be what circular dating is about … and I’m thinking is he really smart, could this be good? He seems to be caring a little more for me every time I see him and showing true concern about things in my life. He is opening up to me emotionally about his feelings. But part of me is wondering is this just a way for him to have his cake and eat it too! To be able to move on when he meets someone else and say well I told u we can be friends. To be a back up plan? Is he just addicted to this search for a perfect woman.

    He can be very insensitive and openly told me about a date he had with a woman, who is not interested in him, but he took her to a concert and he showed me the pictures! Then he talks about other women he has had in his life and how great they were. I did have a talk to him with feeling messages, saying I feel uncomfortable and hurt when he talks about other women and he responded by saying he doesnt want to hurt me and he won’t talk about them again.

    He says he loves so many things about me but he doesn’t say he loves me and he says he loves every minute he spends with me and if he didn’t have to be at the house he would want to be just going for a walk or going to the beach with me. He said he felt proud of me when he took me to a dinner with his friends. But then he doesn’t mind if I date other people, he says. Which I’m trying to do … but I want him to mind!

    I feel a bit like a yo-yo … like I can’t balance out the good and the not so good … he gives me a positive, then he takes it away. Do you know what he is doing?


  14.  #14Christine on June 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Dear Rori,

    I fell hard for a guy and as I was reading your site i made a mistake confessing to him that I started having feeling for him more of a friend but I got shut down. I’ve been talking to him for a few months at first I did not have an attraction because I had just ended a long time relationship with my ex and it so happens that he was in the the same boat as I was. My friends tried to set us up. After hanging out with him so many times I developed feeling for him but the one thing that got in the way was his so called “Ex” He told me one that she was an “ex” for a reason. We are both in the military and so is his ex. I’m not sure if they actually broke up because she was getting deployed. She would call him every single day while i was with him. I understand that she was there for him when he was deployed and that he just returning the favor back. The thing I don’t understand is why does he let her control over him. I got really hurt after he told me that he does see me as more as friends. It took about a week for me to get back to my normal self. I can’t really ignored him because he hangs around with my batch of friends. So I pushed my feelings for him aside. I stop texting him and calling him and when he comes close to me I step back and I try to focus on my friends topic. Now that the his “ex” is back, he start to text me again and hanging out but this time its different. His “ex” never calls when its just me and him and when he comes over to my place to nap before going to work i noticed that when he held me in his arm if feels more tighter as if he doesn’t want me to go. I don’t know if I’m just over thinking it after I just got over the hurt feeling he had put me through. I don’t want to go through that if he’s just going to play me or if he has feeling for me. I really want to know if he’s over his “ex”. I don’t want to make the first move on him after what he put me through. Before i let him enter my heart again i want to make sure that he’s over her. Is there some way I can know.

  15.  #15Ziza88 on June 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Dear Rori Help Im involved with a man who has been friends with his ex for 33 years they meet at age 20 and 19 and now he is 55 and she is 54, im 30 they talk on the phone more then 5 times a day and i have told him several times about me being uncomfortable about it but he just says there isnt anything he can do.
    when i first meet him he never told me about her until after we were intimate, He had a friends with benefits deal going on with her when we meet so i said im gone and he begged me to stay with him. what should i do?

  16.  #16Sunny on March 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Dear Rori,
    My boyfriend was in a long distance relationship over 5yrs and married 2 yrs with his ex-wife. He married her hoping that she would come in the US (from Asia) and have a more intimate/loving relationship with him… Things did not work out the way he planned. She came to the US, he gave her a green card, had her stay in one of his condos, and filed for a divorce.

    He has stayed friends with his ex-wife (whom I met over dinner, once). They don’t have children together. I am fine with the fact that they remained friends as long as they are not seeing each other behind my back.

    My boyfriend promised that he would help his ex financially during her first year in the US while she is looking for employment. It has been over 20 months since she moved into the country with a PhD degree and $20K in her savings account. However, he continues to help her with the logistics of finding employment, writing her resume, etc.

    We do not live together. I had a couple of arguments over the fact that I don’t consider our relationship serious enough for us to move together, and that he still has unresolved baggage, and unhealthy boundaries with his ex.

    My boyfriend promised me that by January 2012 he would stop helping his ex financially. I have a suspicion that he continues to help her to pay her car insurance, her utility bills, the rent, etc. How do I confront him on that? And if he denies it, how do I find out the truth? It is his money, not mine. He has the right do do what ever he pleases with his money. Don’t I have a right to know? And btw, no, he doesn’t have a Court order to offer her spousal support”. He is doing it out of pure generosity and due to the fact he still cares about her.

    He also finds excuses to go over her place once a month to change window blinds, to fix things, and install carbon monoxide detector, because the porperty belongs to him. I only find out “after the fact”, not before.

    Please help me and advise me what to do or say?

    Thank you in advance

  17.  #17Rori Raye on March 14, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Sunny – I know of lots of men in this situation – who still feel tied to an ex, though not truly romantically. With this guy, he could be feeling romantic, tho it seems you can easily get further into his heart if you take a different tack here. Embrace this woman – stop complaining. By setting up an adversarial situation – you’re making things worse. Instead – just follow and do the Tools, be warm and yet independent – and spend as much time with him as he wants you to…if it’s not enough, then date other men, too. So far, he’s not doing anything except sending up red flags for you that he doesn’t consider you the one….being angry about it isn’t going to help you. There are other ways…Love, Rori

  18.  #18Natasha on April 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Dear Rori

           I’ve been dating my boyfriend going on 4 months. Things where going Great, we talked have a lot in common and  fun together he even open up to me. He told me he wanted a relationship and he didn’t want to be hurt because, he have been hurt in the past, in a 3 year relationship that include betrayal. I love the fact that he open up to me. Opening up to him was something I had a hard time doing because I too was in relationship of betrayal. I had a hard time trying to let my guard down ,tying to protect my feelings. I care for him a lot and love him.

          I started to notice we didn’t talk as much anymore. We didn’t spend much time togetherNot to long agohe called me, we went out and talk. He ask did ” Do you love me and care about me” I said yes, I love you and care about. he said he like attention. I said” so do I, ” Show me attention and it will be returned to you, he didn’t give a response. Then I got kinda flustered and said” What do you want from me”? he said ” I want you to be yourself”, I didn’t give a response. We both said we’ve missed each other. Toward the end of the evening, we did get intimate. The next morning he says” call me later so we can make plans for the weekend. So I did, we made plans for the weekend. Later that night I sent him a text saying ” I love you baby”. About 10 mins past my phone rings and and its him, but aWOMEN is on the other end. She tried to get him to tell me on the phone that it was over between me and him. He hesitated on the phone, he didn’t tell me and I hang up the phone. A HUGE Betrayal. He haven’t called me yet, its been 1 day since the incident. I know he will call me soon, but what do I say??? I know this relationship cant be repaired, especially after he been intimate with this women???

    Thank you,

  19.  #19Natasha on April 18, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Dear Rori,

    Part 2. I don’t know what point and time we stop paying attention to each other. It’s like it happen all of a sudden then Betrayal. What to do when he has another women in his life???

    Thank you,

  20.  #20diane on July 11, 2012 at 9:01 am


    Hi All, thanks Roni. I just subscribed to the newsletter after reading a forward from my BF. My husband of 27 yrs decided 4 yrs ago that our age diff. is too great for him..he’s 53, I’m 64. It’s my 3rd marriage, his first and he was 27 when we married. I have a 42-yr old daughter from previous marriage. We’re healthy and fit. Six yrs ago he beat alcoholism but I feel he’s now addicted to sex, working, working out, Monster drinks, Viagra and Xanax, and being elusive. Four yrs ago he hooked up with a loose woman who is now 60, taking her to lunch and then bringing her to our bed for sex. When I found out it was going on, I said he had to leave. He says I kicked him out of his home. Over the 4 yrs she has remained his g’friend, living together 3 times for one yr or several months at a time, renting 3 diff. places over the 4 yrs. When they weren’t living together he was renting hotel rooms several times a month to be with her. At first I thought it was his mid-life crisis and would pass in short time, so I decided to not act in anger, wait and see, value the 27yrs enough not to make a rash mistake, stay in the home we own, protect our credit (if I were to end up single I would need good credit). Due to the bad economy I lost my 16-yr job just after he started his affair and have not been able to stay employed since. This does not help. Weeks turned to months, then years. He has continued sort of a skeleton relationship with me, visiting, taking me out, sleeping over, doing necessary house maintenance, moving in, moving out. When we’re in public he walks ahead of me because he doesn’t like to be seen with someone so much older. He has grey hair but thinks it’s because of my obvious age that we are often offered senior discounts (hahaha!). He says when he’s with her he misses me and the dog and the house, when he’s with me he misses her because the sex is good and she doesn’t make trouble for him (well, come on..she’s a g’friend, not a wife!). He doesn’t like discussions, feels I’m controlling, always bolts for the door when pressured to make a decision between two women. He says he’s no longer attracted to me, which makes it hard for him to come home. I say as long as he can rely on her for sex and the way only a g’friend can make him feel, he won’t be able to rekindle anything for me. He doesn’t believe that. She stays in the wings as he comes and goes with me. He’s afraid if we don’t work out, he will have lost his last chance at happiness with her. We tried counseling in the first year but he was not receptive. Although he pays the mortgage, car payments and insurance, he has spent his retirement savings and more being with her for 4 yrs. We finally started a divorce petition, and now only have to pay the court filing fee to start the proceedings. We both have put that off, and today when I was going to pay the fee, he says to hold off, he thinks he wants to come home, even though he’s still in love with her and will need a weaning period. I know I’m not dumb, and have researched and had counseling alone. I’ve never let anyone get over on me like this, but I’m a Capricorn who tries to be fair and practical, thinking things out, not acting in haste, the mountain goat with a fish tail, who still makes it to the top of the mountain in spite of the tail. I know it’s possible we won’t work out if he comes back but think 27 yrs is worth an effort. I think the only way to know for sure is to spend a few more weeks trying. The downside is that I react quickly and negatively because I want change NOW. I’m not a man so I can’t act like one. I respond to things and talk alot. I’ve also been alone for so long and am really a people person, so maybe I spill over onto him in my need for companionship. For now, if he comes back, should I forget about asking if we can put our rings on again, understand that he will be in touch with her for some period of time (weaning), stuff down the suspicious feelings I know I will have, stop checking his cellphone messages and pictures. Thanks for listening.

  21.  #21lk on July 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

    diane, i feel curious if you have been dating while he has been dating ? i would NEVER EVER EVER EVER for anything in the world offer exclusive, unconditional Relationship to a man who didn’t want the same with me…. i feel scared & angry reading about him using your bed for sex with another woman : ((

  22.  #22diane on July 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    lk, i tried dating a couple of times in 4 yrs but i know i’m married, even if just on paper. it’s entangling and i hurt someone by having to stop seeing him. i was extremely angry about my spouse bringing the other woman to our home, but continues if i leave town (it’s his house too so there’s nothing i can do legally to stop it). i’ve only had exclusive relationships but stayed tangled in this one because of the 25+ yrs we were together, married. i thought it was his midlife crisis, and that it might be worth trying to save it. but he’s had the same g’friend for the entire 4-yr separation. i’m about at the end tho, ready to give up the house and other material things just to live without negativity! this might be way different if the economy were better…i’m unemployed for 4 yrs and 64! our uncontested divorce petition has been filed with the court, and he still packs his suitcase and moves back here…i can only handle a couple of days because he still has the g’friend in the wings. i know he’s treating me badly emotionally, but he doesn’t know how to help himself or break up with someone he cares about so he does nothing about it. now i’m just journaling…sorry. thanks so much for caring and replying. i’m fine otherwise, and he never raises a hand or his voice to me.

  23.  #23Iris on August 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Dear Rori,

    Reading about your blog about the dreaded “ex” I just found myself in a very frustrating situation with my partner of 2 yrs now regarding his ex. Our love story is one that I would’ve considered the type which I believe would give me the happiness while walking off the sunset beach until we had problems about communicating and commitment issues. We’re both sailing as a job on a cruise ship where we met and fell in love. At first he made me the center of his world which I truly felt, I believed he is “the one” .Until everything started to break down with communication issues since we are from different nations. Plus my life is as complicated to begin with, my annulment still in the process. We broke up several times the first time he almost got married with ths girl and called it off to come back to me. Only to find out that the problems were still there, we broke off again him coming back to his ex fiancee only to break it up with her again because he said he really loves me and he can’t see his life without me. Now we are on the similar situation, him wanting to go back to that girl. I feel its the end of the road for us. We never went forward as we planned and promised ourselves. It’s hurting me a lot and I am so confused. I found myself saying goodbye for the last time. I don’t know where to start picking up the pieces although I truly know that I am doing the right thing. He still calls me and says he doesn’t want to lose me and tells me everything will be alright if I just believe in us and that he loves me and he said he must go on his way to finally come to me. Please Rori I need your help, I am on a crossroad and I just don’t know what to do..


  24.  #24Natasha R on November 2, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Hi Rori,

    In the article about emotional ties to exes you made this statement.

    – Next we’ll work on the two parts of this “ex” thing – Boundaries so you NEVER feel resentful or angry about the situation, and Attraction so you can bring him closer without ANY effort.-

    Where is the “next” part if I may ask, I am interested to read about how to deal with inappropriate ex girlfriends. Thank you so much

  25.  #25Rori Raye on November 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Natasha – Hi – and I have no idea where that post is! So sorry! I’ll have to write a new one….Love, Rori

  26.  #26Kath on December 31, 2012 at 7:50 am

    Hi Rori,

    Did I miss the second part of this post?- I am currently trying to deal with this issue. I moved in with my partner last July into the house he jointly owns with his X of six years. He’s talked about us getting married and I do feel loved by him but I also feel that he is still emotionally tied to her. She left him for someone else but they have remained in close contact (they have three adult children)- they are both close to the family and I have tried to help him with his obvious anger issues towards the other guy-whom she’s still with. My partner refused to allow him to attend any family parties and when the children starting inviting me, I said it was unfair and that he would need to deal with his issues. We have now had three occasions (including a wedding) which all four of us have attended and I have been pleased that he has been able to cope with this. However, recently I felt him pulling away from me and then he mentioned that she had contacted him to ask whether he wanted to go with her to visit one of their children in another town. I couldn’t understand why he would want to go with her on their own when he has said in the past that he finds it difficult being in the same room with her. He said that she had asked him but that if I had a problem with it he wouldn’t go. When I asked him why he was considering going he got very defensive and said he couldn’t see a problem with it and I was obviously the one with the issue. Later I did something bad, I checked his mobile and found that no only had he agreed to go with her but he had also sent her a further two texts each one ending in three kisses which is what he ends texts to me with. I am now having trouble trusting him and am perhaps over-analysing more than I should. The house is in their joint names but we want to get a legal document drawn up to agree terms of us paying the rest of the mortgage (she is paying nothing). I suggested that it should be part of the financial settlement in their divorce. I want to be married and I just think that 2013 is going to be the year of truth!- Do I talk to him now about how unsettled I am feeling or do I wait and hope that he makes an attempt to sort either the house or the divorce in the next few months?