Is Your Partner Friends with His Ex?

You and your partner have a caring, mutually supportive relationship, except for one little sticking point: he's still friendly with his ex. You don't know whether this is perfectly healthy and natural, or whether you should call him on it. Here's how to know when it's okay and when it's not.

When It's Alright

It's okay for him to maintain a friendship with his ex when:

1. They were already friends--in a platonic relationship--before the two of you met.

2. Your partner brings you into their friendship and includes you in get-togethers.

3. You are very secure and comfortable with your partner and don't have a problem with him seeing friends on his own occasionally.

4. There was closure in the relationship between your partner and his ex, and the two did not have mutual trouble with separating. "You want to make sure there are sufficient boundaries," says Bonnie Eaker Weil, Ph.D., author of Make Up don't Break Up. "It's possible for two people to continue a caring relationship if he did not leave her high and dry."

5. He doesn't spend so much time with the ex that he doesn't have energy for you. "When you give more time and energy to someone else than your partner, you have to ask yourself if you have leftover feelings for that person," Weil says. 

It's Not OK When

1. Your partner does not include you in the relationship between him and his ex. "If it truly is just a platonic friendship, then there is no reason why you can't be introduced and be friends with the ex,"  says Lauren Mackler, MA, a psychotherapeutic coach and the author of Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life. If your partner says it would be hard for the three of you to have a genuine friendship, she says, this could be a huge red flag.

2. You meet the ex and sense that the two of you will never be good friends, which means you'd just as soon not start spending time together as a threesome. "You're cordial to her, but don't want it to go further," Mackler says. Your partner should respect your feelings since it's you he loves and cares about, she says.  

3. The ex is very insecure and high-maintenance, which means the relationship between the two of them could intensify and become extremely time consuming.

4. Your partner is constantly getting phone calls from his ex. The ex may have an ulterior motive: she wants him back, and she will find any excuse to call him.

5. The ex invites your partner to go on a trip without you and the kids. Huge red flag.

What to Do

If you know in your heart of hearts that the friendship is not right, here are healthy actions you could take

1. Sit down with your partner and establish some boundaries. There need to be ground rules in place. "If she is calling constantly, there should be limits to when it is really necessary," Weil says. "If there are children involved and the two of them have to communicate, that is obviously necessary." But if the ex is calling so your partner will go over and change a light bulb for her, that's not okay. "She is looking for excuses to keep them tied together, and this is diluting the relationship you have with your partner," Weil says.

2. Take a long, hard look at the relationship you have with your partner. If you're having a satisfying sex life, and you spend time together on a daily basis when you completely focus on each other, these are good signs that the two of you are in a committed, healthy relationship.