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Ask an MBA Student: Is It OK For My Boyfriend to See His Ex?

Conventional Wisdom is a different kind of advice column. Your questions will be answered by people from all walks of life rather than by advice experts. This week, a guy working on his MBA tries to help out a woman nervous about her boyfriend's ex. If you have a question you'd like answered on Conventional Wisdom, you can submit it here.

Today's Question:
My boyfriend's ex-girlfriend just moved back in town and he wants to hang out with her. She's going to stop by his house this week so they can catch up. They broke up a couple of years ago, but they dated for a few years so this sort of makes me uncomfortable. Can I tell him that I don't want them to be friends? I don't know whether I should be upset or just let it go.  


To read the MBA student's advice,


Dear Nervous,

My advice is to let them hang out and catch up initially. It's natural for friends who haven't seen each other to meet up; there is nothing to worry about. I think it might be a good idea for you to be there, if your boyfriend is OK with that. If this is truly a friend situation, he shouldn't have a problem with you being there, and if the ex-girlfriend is moving back into town then she should want to get to know you. After they catch up, the novelty might go away and they might never see each other again as people change. However, if they continue to hang out and see each other a lot, you can let him know that it makes you uncomfortable. He should respect your wishes and tone it down.

An MBA Student

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
likethedirection likethedirection 7 years
If it makes you uncomfortable, tell your boyfriend. Hopefully he figures out a way to make it more comfortable for you. Maybe he invites you along. Maybe he doesn't see her at all and chooses to just have a phone conversation instead. Or, maybe he still meets up with her but sits you down beforehand and explains the situation better to you. Everyone has their faults and maybe yours is a little bit of insecurity, but so what! As long as your insecurities don't get out of hand, you're allowed to be uncomfortable with situations like this. Lots of couples don't agree with being friends with exes so you're not alone. Some people just don't believe you should be friends with someone you were intimate with.
Akasha Akasha 7 years
I agree and disagree with his advise. I wouldn't have a problem with them meeting up, but I disagree that the poster should accompany him on that first meeting. If they decide to hang after that she definitely should meet the girl and hang with them as a group. I was best friends with my high school/college boyfriend. The girl he started seeing after me was someone I knew and was super cool and actually called me to check that we were really broken up (we did the break up get back together thing a lot). I had moved away but she wasn't sure if I was coming back. My ex and I didn't have a bad break up we just grew into different people and so we remained best friends. His new girlfriend called me as things became serious between them and checked what was going on between the two of us and we had a very long talk that alleviated her insecurities and established boundaries, that she was comfortable with, for me. I also agreed not allow him to discuss their relationship in negative ways unless he was ready to have the same conversations with her and was just asking for advise on how to broach it. The only time we ever had any sort of a problem with the arrangement was when she found out that I helped him pick out her engagement ring. It sounds much worse than it was. He emailed me six choices and asked me my opinion of them. It all got cleared up when she found out he had sent the same email to her sister, his mom, and his grandmother. Her sister and I picked the same ring. The two of us became great friends, and I was even in their wedding. I think the trick to being friends with the ex is 1) she has to really be over him and not hoping to get back together and 2) the current girlfriend has to be secure in the relationship. My ex's wife is a very sweet person and really does care about other people's feelings. She called me to ask if it was inappropriate to send a wedding invitation since I used to be engaged to him. She really wanted me to come because I'm his best friend, but didn't want me to be hurt by their getting married. Not only did I go to the wedding but I was his best man. Not as weird as it sounds. I was the only one of his friends that knew his brother who had passed away a few weeks before and he wanted me to stand up for him in lieu of his brother.
NaturallyGlam NaturallyGlam 7 years
If it's been years, then I can understand.... but at the same time, why does she have to go to his house? Being alone with an ex in a house/room/whatever could bring about a problem....
runningesq runningesq 7 years
lickity, 85% of whom? men? women? both? single people? married people? Statistics like that make me skeptical
sourcherry sourcherry 7 years
Oh, I didn't think of that flickster... Obviously there's nothing wrong with her going to meet his ex as well, if that's what they usually do when he's meeting regular friends... But if it were me, I'd still prefer to meet her next time they hang out, like filmgirl81 said... It would probably be less awkward that way, and it's a vote of trust, which never hurts a relationship, imo...
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
here's the thing; i remember hearing that 85% of people who have lunch with an ex, end up having sex with them. since hearing that, not big on the idea.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
snarkypants, I never really thought of that aspect. You make a good point, too.
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
i see your point chrstne, but think about how the ex feels. i refuse to meet my ex's gf. it would just be awkward. probably even more for her than for me.
Chrstne Chrstne 7 years
I feel like if it's in regards to the other sex, complete and total honesty needs to be present. I also feel like if the person you are with is nervous about a particular person or a set of people, it's not a deal breaker right off the bat. What is wrong with having your boyfriend or girlfriend meet the person you are going to be reconnecting with? Not hanging out or tagging along, but just meeting. I would have no objections to my boyfriend meeting anyone I was going out with, especially if it were a person of the opposite sex. If I was meeting up with someone ( a guy) from high school or something, I would definitely think to introduce the two before my friend and I went off and did whatever. If my boyfriend was reconnecting with an ex, I would for sure like to meet her. I don't necessarily want to know her or be buddy-buddy, I would just like to know who the hell it is he is going out with, especially if we have never met.
sunshinepointe sunshinepointe 7 years
My ex's girlfriend now was friends of both of ours back in the day. He and I split and she moved in - they've been living together and dating for like 3 years or something and she like REFUSES to let him hang out with me when I go down to visit. When they started dating she DEFRIENDED me on facebook - ordinarily I wouldn't care, it's only facebook but its like chickie you should be HAPPY that he and I broke up otherwise you'd never have dated him. I'm dating someone else and have no interest in anything but his friendship. So, he and I sneak conversations behind her back all hush hush like as to not hurt her feelings. It's petty and childish - we were ALL friends at one point but she can't get over herself.
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
i agree with sourcherry. i meet up with my exes every once in a while. just to catch up. no hanky panky or anything.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 7 years
I would just be happy that the boyfriend is being honest to you about meeting his ex before it happens. That means there won't be anything to worry about. Let them meet once alone, and then if he wants to meet her again, he should definitely invite you along
pink-elephant pink-elephant 7 years
I'd say just make sure that the setting in which they catch-up remains setting where possible past feelings may emerge. I'm not implying that you cannot trust your boyfriend, in fact, I'm sure he has no ulterior motives about catching up with this other girl. I'm just asking you to be mindful of how some situations have the tendency to lower inhibitions and be careful. Catching up over drinks for example, where the line between attraction and friendship can get very thin, would not be a good idea.
notinthemood notinthemood 7 years
If they hang out once or twice, it's not a big deal. If he starts lying about her, then you have something to worry about. If he wants to be with you (which he does, as indicated by your "girlfriend" status) he won't accept any advances by his ex and you would have had nothing to worry about anyway.
elizabethsosewn elizabethsosewn 7 years
While i can see what you mean sourcherry, I would wanna come along. Not out of mistrust, but because if she is a friend, then I should be meeting her too! If it were any other kind of friend I wouldn't see a problem with both people in the relationship going to say hi hang out meet and greet. So I would treat the situation the same. Approach it like it's a normal friend.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 7 years
I understand that you're nervous and probably insecure that his feeling for her will come back blablabla. But you can't be telling him what to do. If he's just friends with her, he'd be more than happy to bring you along and introduce you to her when the appropriate time comes. And if he ended up leaving you for her, you know what, he's not worth it anyway as a bf. So whatever happens, usually it's for the best. Good luck.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
agree with sourcherry. they've been broken up for years and he's WITH YOU. and who knows, maybe if they do really hit it off as friends and you ultimately meet this girl, you'll really enjoy her company! I think you just need to take a breath and trust in your relationship. if you can't, that's not this ex-girlfriend's fault, that's YOUR problem.
sourcherry sourcherry 7 years
I don't agree with the student's advice. It shows a great lack of trust if you ask your boyfriend to be there when he meets his ex. It's basically saying that you need to make sure nothing happens, which I would find even insulting if I were your boyfriend! Anyway, my advice is to work on your insecurities rather than thinking of a way of telling your bf you don't want them to be friends. Maybe it would make you feel better to admit to your bf that the situation makes you a little bit insecure, but tell him that you're ok with it. He'd be a lot more appreciative of you.
staple-salad staple-salad 7 years
No big deal with being friends with exes. My ex is one of my best friends, and my boyfriend is best friends with his exes. I know I'd be horribly upset if he said I can't see my friends anymore, and I know he'd be ticked off if I told him no more best friend for you! I think that friends after dating is a pretty natural progression if the only problems were ones that would only be associated with a romantic relationship, not the people themselves.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
Meh, my husband is friends with a couple of his ex girlfriends. It doesn't bother me.
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