I thought she was the one, until I met her ex. Should I leave the past behind us or take it as a red flag?

Hi Evie, I (34m) and my girlfriend (33F) have been together for a couple of years now. I knew she was in a long-term relationship before me but until recently, I had never seen or met the guy. Well, last week we happened to bump into him as he was back in town for a visit. I don’t want to sound mean, but the guy was really rough-looking. We all went for a coffee (my girlfriend doesn’t have hard feelings towards him, they broke up amicably) but the whole time he was talking, I was wondering what she ever saw in him, and by default, what she sees in me. He was quite arrogant, overly opinionated, and the complete opposite of me. When I asked my girlfriend afterward if he was like that during their relationship, she said yes. She didn’t seem to see it as a problem. I guess my concern is, if he is her true type, what is she doing with me? Also, if that was the type of guy she went for, what does it say about her? My friends think I’m overthinking it but I feel like I’ve kind of lost respect for her since meeting the ex. What should I do? I still love her, but I see her differently now. – Nate, NV

Dear Nate, 

Thanks for writing in. I can tell the meeting with your girlfriend’s ex has raised some concerns on your end, so let’s break it down.

It’s perfectly natural to experience a jolt of unease when confronted with a partner’s past, particularly when it’s personified by an ex who seems so at odds with everything you understand about your significant other. However, the heart of your dilemma isn’t really about her ex’s rough edges or brash demeanor. It’s about your perception of her choices and, by extension, what those choices say about you.

The truth is, people evolve. The person your girlfriend was with her ex is not necessarily the person she is with you. Each relationship teaches us something new about ourselves—what we want, what we don’t, and who we aspire to be. Her relationship history, including any past turbulence, has likely shaped her into the woman you fell in love with.

Your concern that if her ex is her “type,” then what is she doing with you, cuts to the core of insecurity many feel in relationships. It’s crucial here to remind yourself that she is with you now because something about you resonates with her, something meaningful that she perhaps didn’t find in her previous relationships.

Now, your loss of respect for her post-meeting is a reaction worth exploring more deeply. Is it really about her past choice, or is it about your fears and insecurities being projected onto her? It’s important not to conflate her past relationship decisions with her current worth and to remember that attraction can be complex and multifaceted.

Rather than dwell on her past, focus on what you two share presently. Communicate your feelings to her—not as an accusation but as a dialogue about your insecurities. This isn’t just about her answering for her past but about you both understanding each other better, thereby strengthening your relationship.

Finally, beware of letting the shadow of her past loom over your current happiness. She’s chosen to be with you now, not her ex, not anyone else. Trust in her choice, in your relationship, and most importantly, in yourself.

Stay grounded and don’t let comparison sabotage what you have.

Warm wishes, 

Evie 

Do you have a question for Evie? If you would like advice from Evie, fill out the form here or send your problem to askevie@ideapod.com.

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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