“James!” Kelli threw her bag on the floor and flung herself into the chair. “I knew it! I found the evidence.”
“What evidence?” I asked.
“He still has pictures of her. Couple pictures, right there in his bedside drawer! And she’s still in his contacts list. I knew he was still in love with her. I knew it!”
She leaned forward and fixed me with a stare. “So, how should I confront him?”
We All Have a Past
Chances are, your guy has an ex.
He may have any number of exes.
He had feelings for all those women once.
What does that mean for your relationship with him now?
When women come to me with worries about their partner’s romantic past, I ask them to think about their own past.
Was there anyone you were deeply in love with?
Do you still have feelings for him, after all this time?
Many women report that there was at least one man they thought they’d be with forever. They remember how in love they were. Some of those old feelings are still there.
And yet those old feelings don’t interfere with their current relationship. They’re able to separate the past from the present.
They can see their past relationship for what it was: a valuable step in their journey to become the woman they are today.
This is why it’s a good sign if a man has loved before.
It shows that he’s capable of committed love. He knows what it feels like to want a future with the woman of his dreams. He’s worked on holding a relationship together.
His heart has been opened, and he wants a love like that again.
When Your Guy’s Ex Is Still in the Picture
The real problem is not that your guy once fell in love with a woman who wasn’t you.
The real problem is that you don’t know whether his heart is entirely yours.
Is he 100% committed to you?
Or is he holding back part of his heart for her?
This is why Kelli felt so threatened to find evidence of her boyfriend’s past relationship.
She thought that a man in love would erase his ex completely from his life.
He doesn’t need memories of his ex. He has her!
Was she right?
Is keeping photos and contact details a sign that a man hasn’t gotten over his ex?
Maybe, maybe not. None of that is a smoking gun.
Instead, look for these 3 signs that he isn’t fully over his ex.
Sign #1. An Absence of Closure
When your guy talks about his exes, does he use the past tense or does he slip into the present tense?
A man who has achieved closure will firmly situation his ex in the past.
He may speak of her fondly, but there’s an emotional distance between what was and what is.
He’s processed what happened and moved on. He can explain what he learned from her and what she taught him about himself.
A man who hasn’t achieved closure will talk about his ex as if she’s still present in his life.
It’s like she’s a ghost, still casting her shadow.
You can tell he thinks about her and wonders what might have been.
Sign #2. He Confides in Her
Many women find it difficult when their boyfriend is still friends with an ex.
They feel jealous. It feels like they’re in a 3-way relationship, and they don’t get to have any say in this other woman.
How do you know if your guy is truly “just friends” with his ex, or whether there’s more going on?
Here’s one warning sign to look for:
He confides in her things he doesn’t confide in you.
When you are in a relationship, it’s reasonable to assume that you are each other’s primary confidante.
When something bad happens, the first person you call is your partner. You talk through things with your partner before you talk through them with anyone else.
An emotional affair can happen when one of you starts to inappropriately share intimate information with someone else…
And that relationship begins to feel emotionally closer than your relationship with your partner.
He shouldn’t feel closer to his ex than he feels to you.
Nor should he feel as if she understands him better than you do.
Sign #3. He Compares the Relationship
A man who has put his past behind him will treat each new relationship as a fresh experience.
He won’t compare you to her.
He won’t compare your relationship to the relationship he had with her as if he is considering which one is better.
She is his past, and you are his present.
His only interest is making this work with you.
He may draw on what he learned in his relationship with his ex, but he doesn’t expect your relationship to be anything like his relationship with her.
If he does compare you to her, or your relationship with his earlier relationships, then it’s a sign that he may still be hung up on the past.
Luckily for Kelli, the photos weren’t a sign her guy was dreaming about his ex. When she asked him about them (not confronted him!), he had to ask where they were.. He’d just thrown them in a drawer and forgotten them long ago.