anon asks :

I’m 20 and I have been with my boyfriend for just over two years.

About six months ago he started talking to an old friend who he hadn’t seen for nine years. She has been texting him when he is at work and when he is with me, and recently admitted that she is in love with him, and asked him if he feels the same.

I asked him about this and he said he hadn’t said anything; just told her she is only a friend. In the meantime, she has told me that she’s doing everything she can to split us up. I do trust him but I don’t know if I should ignore it as before, when I have asked him to stop speaking to her, he still does it and says he doesn’t want to upset her.

I don’t know what to do.

Yin replies

Oh, the curse of modern technology. It was a lot harder for husbands and boyfriends to keep in touch with ex lovers before the days of texting and emails. And by contacting him during work hours, she knows he will be free to answer. You need to think carefully about this though – is it a break-up issue if he does stay in touch with her?

You can’t go on living in doubt about whether or not you can trust him. Even limiting his relationship with her to impersonal emails or texts is going to affect your confidence and trust in him. Encouraging him to be fully open with you is the only way you’re going to re-build the trust.

Here’s a thought: why not ask him if he’s called it all quits, and then ask if he’d be happy to leave his phone at home during the day for a while. Reassure him that it’s not because you’re going to read his texts and start answering this girl but that if she is continuing to contact him, he won’t be distracted by it during the day and you can both deal with it together.

I would advise against making direct contact with her yourself. Don’t give her the satisfaction. Your key here is to get your boyfriend to be open with you and regard it as a problem you are both going to sort out and put an end to, rather than you just relying on him and are then left to trust him.

Yang replies

Why would your boyfriend want to be friends with this relationship-wrecker? If he can’t put your feelings first, and trust in what you’re telling him about her messages and threats, then he isn’t worth you wasting your time on.

Two years is already a long time to have devoted to someone who isn’t willing to put you before his ego. And that’s what this is about. He can’t let go because he enjoys the attention.

Don’t flatter him by turning it in to some kind of love rivals match. Make it clear that it’s ‘friendship’ with her or a meaningful, proper relationship with you. Don’t be vague about it or give him any room to wriggle out of ending it all contact with her.

When you’re dealing with a man’s ego, you need to make it black and white, and stick by what you say. If she keeps texting him, can’t he block her number? Change his number? If he’s really desperate to prove his worthiness, he’ll make sure she’s cut off. Chances are, he’s just insecure and wants a back-up to make him feel good about himself.