How to Handle the Fact That Your Boyfriend Still Loves His Ex

If you find yourself worrying about your boyfriend's past, working on your own insecurities might help.
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Though he may not admit it directly, the way your boyfriend talks and reminisces about his ex makes it all too clear: He still has feelings for someone else. Having a past and some happy memories with someone other than you doesn't necessarily mean that he's in love with his ex, but a little detective work on your part may show that he is. You can make it through this painful time with a little understanding of his experiences and a lot of compassion for yourself.

1 Accept His Past

Any guy you date is likely to bring a relationship history with him -- as are you. While you don't have to take constant fawning over his exes in stride, you do need to understand that he's had emotional experiences with exes that have stayed with him, and he may want your help sorting them out. His happiness supply is not limited -- happiness in the past makes him look forward to even more happiness with you, psychoanalyst Sophie Cadalen tells Psychologies Magazine online in the article "Jealous of Your Partner's Past."

2 Love Has No Limit

Typical relationship models say that people can only be in love with one person at a time. But love is not a zero-sum game, writes relationship therapist Moushumi Ghose in "My Boyfriend Is Still In Love With His Ex" on Your boyfriend may actually love both you and his ex in different ways, Ghose writes, each of them special for unique reasons. You may have some fondness for your exes, too, because they each represent an emotional moment in your life.

3 His Feelings Are a Fantasy

If your boyfriend is holding onto love for someone who hurt him, it may be because he has created an internal version of his ex who supports him, in contrast to the real-world version around whom he feels discomfort and even pain. These visions of exes help people to show themselves love, writes psychoanalyst David Braucher in the Psychology Today online article "Why Can’t I Get Over My Ex?" Understanding that your boyfriend's feelings are more of a fantasy than a real longing should help you get past them.

4 Work on Your Insecurities

A little effort to bolster your self-esteem can go a long way toward helping you and your boyfriend overcome conflicts around his feelings for his ex. Many of your insecurities about the good times in his past may arise from childhood anxieties, Cadalen and her colleagues tell Psychologies. Be honest about these concerns, and don't give your boyfriend a license to walk all over your heart with stories about, or comparisons to, his ex. You may also want to visit a counselor together to work on your relationship.

A graduate of Oberlin College, Caitlin Duke has written on travel and relationships for She has crisscrossed the country several times, and relishes discovering new points on the map. As a credentialed teacher, she also has a strong background in issues facing families today.