Singaporebrides | The Groom Room

December 2012

Bury That Ex

How do you deal with your fiancee’s or wife’s insecurities about your ex-girlfriend(s)? What can you do to re-assure her that the past is past? Fu Jinming readies the shovel.

If the relationship you’re currently enjoying wasn’t your first, chances are, you’ll be carrying baggage over from your last one in some form or another. Which is all well and good if you know your boundaries, and understand that your current love is more important than the ones that have come and gone before. Because if you don’t, your relationship is going to be one fraught with constant distrust, jealousy and major unhappiness.

Unscientifically speaking, men seem to have developed the ability to move on from breakups faster than our fairer halves. Sure, we hurt like every person who’s ever been dumped. And feel guilty like every jerk who’s done the dumping. A sentimental pang still hits every now and then too. But eventually, we all arrive at the same conclusion: Dwelling on the past is an utter waste of time.

Maybe it’s our evolutionary need to ignore the past and focus on the present. It ensures we could hunt our next prey when the last one got away. It’s a necessary, if slightly warped, survival instinct. The past won’t feed the tribe. And somehow, that trait has spilt over to the way we handle our relationships.

So while men go through the same feelings of loss, confusion and longing in between relationships, most of us eventually put our feelings for our former loves back where they belong – in the past.

The trouble is, our women don’t seem to think we can. Indeed, the Ghost of Girlfriends Past haunts our current loves relentlessly.

Take my friend J. She went to Melbourne recently on a leisure trip alone. Her friend from her college days had emigrated there with his wife, so she thought it’d be a great chance to catch up on old times. Only problem was, he used to have a huge crush on J. And his wife knew about it.

Not surprisingly, something “cropped up” on the day they were supposed to meet. And she left the country without having met him – or his wife. Later on, she heard his wife was furious that he had even agreed to meet J. He was effectively forced to abandon the reunion. He failed to convince his wife that he was meeting an old friend, not an old flame.

Was the wife being overly melodramatic and insecure? Perhaps not. Because contrary to popular belief, men are really no better when it comes to dealing with our Significant Others’ romantic histories.

How would you feel if the love of your life still meets the love of her past regularly? All the insecurities you’ve manfully buried will come bubbling to the surface. Instead of the self-assured man you think you are, you start to get paranoid, jealous and eventually, bitter about the ex-lover your wife or girlfriend calls “a very dear friend”.

At the end of the day, the old adage rings true: Do unto others what you would have others do unto you. There’s more to gain by respecting your other half’s feelings towards your friendship with your ex, being considerate enough to address it, and earning her trust.

Here are some ways you can show her you cherish this relationship more than the last.

1. Don’t Shoot Her Down

The worst thing you can do is to dismiss your spouse’s concerns about your former girlfriend(s) as silly or unfounded. Her fears of you cheating on her are real. You would feel just as insecure if you saw her hanging out with her ex.

Sit her down and talk about it. Explain to her that she means the world to you; that you understand her insecurities and would like to do something about them. Ask her what she thinks you should do to put her mind at ease.

Remember, it’s not about bending to her will – and you’re certainly entitled to decline unreasonable demands (denouncing your ex on YouTube and posting it up on Facebook counts as one). It’s about showing her the effort you’re willing to put in to earn her trust.

2. Cut All Ties

If you can, make a clean break from your ex. You’re with someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with now. No reason for a blast from the past.

Of course, expect things to get a little awkward when you run into each other on the streets, in the restaurant, or worse, at a social gathering. And in the age of rampant social media, it’s hard not to stumble across some stray post with your ex’s face on it.

Remain steadfast and stout-hearted. Smile and exchange small pleasantries if you see her in public. Then walk away. If you see her online, just hit ‘Delete’.

3. Don’t Keep Secrets

You have nothing to hide, so don’t. Casually show her your SMS texts to let her know that everything is aboveboard. If you’re meeting your ex for some reason, make sure your other half knows where and when. Explain to her that your relationship with your ex is purely platonic, and your meet-ups are not as regular as she thinks it is.

You can even invite her to join you if you think she is open-minded enough to do so. But know that the very mention of your ex will make her uncomfortable, so limit your social sessions with your former girlfriend whenever possible. Less face-time means less chances of a misunderstanding, and unnecessary trouble at home.

4. Be Sensitive

If you know your girlfriend is uncomfortable with your ex, don’t mention her too often in your conversations. In fact, as far as possible, don’t mention her at all. Things like “Karen and I used to frequent this restaurant, it’s quite good,” will not go down well with the missus.

And please do not compare her looks, likes, and habits with your old flame’s, even when it’s well-intentioned. Saying: “I remember Jane used to use this moisturiser for her skin, you should try it,” is the surest way to acquire another ex.

5. Don’t Use Her Gifts

Men are visual creatures. So are women when it comes to spotting the things we use. If your fiancée sees a tie, a watch, or even a key chain on you she’s curious about, she will ask where or whom it’s from. Telling her it was a gift from your ex is a sure way of seeding fresh insecurities in her.

Yet, we don’t recommend lying. She’ll find out the truth, and Hell hath no fury for her scorn.

Rather, explain that it’s something you’re using purely for function. Or better yet, go out and get a new one. If she decides to buy you a replacement, please be smart and use that instead of your old one.

6. Make Her Feel Special

When around other girls, especially your ex, make sure your centre of attention is squarely on the girl you’re about to marry. You don’t have to make a big show of it. Subtle gestures like holding her hand or wrapping your arm around her reassures her that she’s still the most important woman in your life. She will appreciate the gesture.

7. Don’t Invite Your Ex To Your Wedding

Unless your fiancée is open-minded and fully comfortable with your ex, it is wise to skip inviting the latter to your wedding. Even if the woman you’re marrying says she’s ok with inviting the woman you used to date, think twice. When women say, “Yes”, chances are, it means a resolute “No, and the galls you have for even asking!”

Instead, tell your wife-to-be that it’s the most important day of your life, and that you’d like it to just be about the both of you. No girlfriends from the past, which also means – happily for you – no boyfriends from hers too.