Disclaimer: I suppose this is a mix of a PSA, and me hoping that maybe my experience can help some people. I tend to refer to ex's in terms of girls because I am mixing in my situation (but it's obviously open to all genders). This mostly applies to couples who haven't had someone cheat or already breach trust majorly, because that has its own sets of rules etc.
So I got into a relationship at the start of this year, and neither of us are the type that need space for weeks on end and don't want to talk for days, so since we got together we have spoken every single day, and basically spend every single day together and that's fine for us. Maturity-wise, you'd think we've been together for a year! We're in love, and only have had one serious issue.
However, he had a girlfriend or 5-6 years in the past, they were broken up for 2 years but they still talk (she moved overseas 3 years ago, why they broke up). He's had two girlfriends in that time, both were psycho and also just could NOT handle her existence, even when he wasn't still friends with his first ex. Now me, I am insecure because of my own history (two boyfriends, both cheated on me with ex's), and here I am, handling this situation quite well I think, I don't overreact, I don't start crying etc.
Every now and then on my bad days, I find myself googling "dealing with ex's" or "boyfriend friends with ex's" and you know what? That's normal. Don't feel bad about that. You are not crazy or psycho or whatever if you feel you need to google that sometimes. But from my googling a few things I have discovered that are helping me come to terms with it a bit more:
1. All you can do is trust in your partner.
IF they are going to lie/sneak/cheat or the like, then it doesn't matter how insecure or paranoid (or not) you are about it, it'll happen. So all we can do is show trust and be the best person we can be, because if you are constantly bringing it up and being insecure, it may only push them to do it more (is it your fault? absolutely not, a person does that they are hurting you and should take responsibility)
Make sure your SO knows your boundaries. Now for my, his ex is still out of the country, but I know she is supposed to be coming back soon, so while we've had a few conversations about "hypothetical" situations (arose from that little issue we had), I have started thinking of what my boundaries will be, so when she's back, we can sit down and discuss.
- No calling after a certain time.
- Not informing me of when she does contact you (I don't need to see, and while he has offered to show me his messages to her, I've said no, but just KNOWING when she has is different).
- She isn't to come over without me being there/informing me (but that's kind of normal for all guests not just ex's)
- She knows about me, and you make it clear about our relationship. For me this is an important one.
These aren't big things or "rules", and if anything they're quite obvious (when he told me they still spoke early on I said as long as you aren't typing her a message in secret hiding in the toilet, or while we're in bed together then I trust you). But it should still be said, so your SO can know your boundaries and so there's been a discussion and your SO knows what you can handle and can act accordingly (and hopefully respect you enough to realise respecting boundaries is a better reaction than ultimatums and breakdowns).
And this goes both ways. If you are friends with your ex, you need to be aware that it's not just ANY girl you are friends with, it's someone you once were interested in (possibly sexual, possibly love etc). In my case, this girl was part of his life, and most of his "firsts" which is unsettling (and also partly jealousy) sometimes. So you need to realize that it's not just a normal friendship, with just anyone.
But likewise, if you are the partner, you need to respect in your partner that they can have their friends and not set ultimatums for them.
In the end. Just remind yourself of a few things:
When you think of/talk to your ex do you KNOW that you feel nothing and it means nothing? If so, then it is possible for it to be the same for him and his ex.
On your bad times, and hell do it on your good days, think of the things s/he does for you. The things that show you they love you. Because some days, especially the bad insecure ones, it's hard to believe they do and that's fine too (in healthy amounts). But for me, a recent example is he helped me move. And he didn't just do the bare minimum, he was cleaning, lifting, doing a LOT of the work. He listens when I tell him things (usually ha). And those aren't signs of me just being convenient or whatever, that's signs of caring.
When your ex(bf in my case), has a new girlfriend and perhaps she's insecurely thinking of me, I know I am not someone crazy, trying to get him back, nor ever want to. And a LOT of girls are like that. As much as we think all girls will want our current partners back (and no shit why, we're with you so we obviously think you're awesome!), most ex's are also just normal people moving on realistically.
Finally, don't try and compare yourself or your relationship to theirs (one thing I am still a bit guilty of!). It's different. And the imperfections you have that perhaps you don't see in his ex, is because we judge ourselves the worst, and we see those imperfections as bad. But most likely, your SO loves those things about you that his ex didn't have (or had different ones of). So be happy with who you are is an important part.
I suppose there was more I wanted to say but this is long and good for now. I may write another one when his ex comes back and the things I've done to deal/how it went because I already know it's going to be very hard and weird! Any advice from you guys is great, please be nice :)