Miss Information: My boyfriend still shares a bed with his ex. Should I be worried?

 Dear Miss Information,

I started dating my boyfriend last July. He's really sweet and good to me, and I love him. In November, he found out his dad has an incurable disease. He might live a couple of years, but it could be a couple of months. It's looking more and more like the latter, unfortunately. He's old, has a bunch of other conditions, and has been in the ICU for about a week.

Anyway, I've started to question my relationship with my boyfriend. We really weren't dating for long before all of this with his dad happened. I don't want to break up with him while he's in the middle of this shit situation, but I also am afraid that if I stick it out with him for an indefinite amount of time, it will hurt him more to break up with him later. He doesn't have many friends and barely any family — I feel like I'm literally the only one he has contact with sometimes. But at the same time, I don't know if I really want to break up with him, or if I'm just grumpy and irritated because he's always in a terrible mood because of his dad. (Terrible person alert?)

Can you shed any light on the situation? — Grief By Proxy

Dear Grief By Proxy,

You’re carrying a heavy burden. Let’s see if we can lighten that load. Start with what you don’t have any control over: one, the father’s poor health and two, your boyfriend’s lack of social skills. Both existed long before you and your guy ever met and cannot be fixed by you, even if you were the love child of Sigmund Freud and Florence Nightingale. You have no more business setting your boyfriend up on man dates than you do giving his father a catheter.

You can be upset by these things, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you have an influence on either. Your boyfriend’s dad is going to go when it’s his time. Your boyfriend is going to develop a social network when he’s willing or able to do the work it takes to get there. You could say that dumping someone who has no safety net is cruel, but that same person could turn around years later and tell you it was the exact kind of kick in the ass they needed. Now that the above are out of the picture, let’s look at this for what it is: a relationship between two people. The questions you should be asking yourself are the same as they are for anyone else considering a breakup:

1. Do I love this person?

2. Do I see a long-term future with them?

3. Do I admire and respect their character?

You wonder whether his reaction to his father's condition is influencing your feelings, and that's a valid question. However, even when a person is going through something difficult, you’re still getting vital information. How do they deal with external stressors? What are their coping mechanisms? Even if they’re behaving like a grief-addled fuckwad, you should be able to see past everything that’s going on if you’re genuinely in love and that person’s a good match.

I can’t answer that for you, but I do agree that there’s no point in staying just to stay. You’re not a terrible person, it just sounds like you’re frustrated. You were thrown into the role of emotional rock very early in the relationship. Instead of thinking about everyone else’s feelings, tune into your own. It may take some time, but your gut will lead you to the right place. If your gut’s being an elusive diva, try mentally imagining both staying together and breaking up – with no heartache or pain for either scenario. Now imagine the decision would be made by the flip of a coin. Which future outcome would you secretly hope for?

Readers, have you ever been with someone undergoing a major life event? What helped save (or speed the end of) the relationship?

Dear Miss Information,

I've been in a committed long distance relationship for the last three months with an amazing guy; all was well until I heard about his history with his so-called best friend. After constantly hearing about her, I asked him about their relationship. It took a while for him to let it out, but finally he confessed that he had sex with her not once, but multiple times. It wasn't until later that I learned that they had dated and things didn’t end until a month before we met.

Learning all of this has completely changed my view on this relationship. I constantly feel insecure. I can't get over the fact that he spends so much time with her. I find myself accusing him of still having feelings for her and questioning him about their relationship. I'm completely in love with him, and he claims to feel the same way about me, yet I still find it hard to trust him. He even still shares a bed with her occasionally and they’re attached at the hip.

I feel completely disposable, like I will never mean what she means to him. He never finds time to visit me, even though I only live a few hours away. Apparently he wants to find a job first, but I feel like if he really wanted to come he'd come by now. He has proposed coming to visit if he can get her to take him. I was okay with that as long as it got him here faster, but I really don't want to meet her. He expects her to stay with us the whole day, which I am not cool with. I really just don't want to see her or even acknowledge her existence. Do I really have something to worry about or am I just being a jealous bitch? — Friend Bested

Dear Friend Bested,

Best friends of the opposite sex are cool, but best friends who are exes and play snuggle bunnies? No fucking way. Maybe under certain unusual circumstances. A group road trip. A blizzard. Burning Man. Otherwise, you totally have a right to be annoyed if it’s happening on a regular basis. There’s a reason I don’t have sleepovers with my boss or take baths with my next door neighbor. Social boundaries exist for a reason — they tell us what kind of people we’re dealing with and they strengthen our relationships.

Ex-girlfriend notwithstanding, what are you doing with someone who lacks both a job and transportation? I’m guessing you’re in college, which makes it a little more understandable. Note that I said a “little.” He can’t work a part-time job? Sell some cash for gold? Collect deposits on beer cans? And what about you — are you doing everything you can to get to his side of the state or are you too busy with your full-time job as Professional Boyfriend Interrogator?

You can use this girl as a boyfriend delivery service, but that means you have to be civil to her and help her find a place to stay. You can’t expect her to come up and drop him off without having any sort of interaction. I agree that putting her in your bed is going above and beyond, but a couch or a nearby friend’s house is reasonable. Spend a small part of the weekend with her because it’s the polite thing to do, but after that you and your boyfriend should get some alone together. If your boyfriend can’t agree to concessions like that, I’d question who he’s really there to see — you or the ex-girlfriend? He can see her anytime. You? Not the same.

It’s tough to tell whether your boyfriend is one of those well-meaning, pie-in-the-sky types who simply wants a close opposite sex friend, or a complete sleaze who wants to date you while maintaining an on-and-off dalliance with his ex. The fact that he’s making very little effort to come see you worries me a bit. Then again, who wants to come see someone who makes them feel constantly badgered? Instead of these little arguments, you need to have a major hash-out session where you both agree to modify your behavior: he promises not to have any more private sleepovers, you promise to go a certain number of days a week without any best-friend-related questions. Compromise. That’s how you get there.

Readers, would you be cool with your partner sleeping in the same bed with someone they used to date? Why or why not?

Commentarium (41 Comments)

Feb 08 10 - 1:30am
TheTits

Erin, the advice you gave to "Grief by Proxy" is unbelievably cruel. Why not trip the dude and kick out his teeth on your way out, GBP? Yeah, sure, taking a hit like losing his only social support while his dad is dying is just the kind of tough love that will have him up, out the door, and attending Toastmaster's and Rotary club meetings in no time.

Some douche did this to me at a similar time and it fed into a spiral that led to years of disabling self-hatred and depression, despite me being in grad school (HAHAHAHAHAHA) and consequently having great medical and therapeutic resources.

If the dude lil' miss good-times is fragile already, what you advise her to do is fucking criminal, or should be -- and if you think it's a-ok, I'm glad you've advertised that so anyone with a heart and some decency can give you a wiiiiide berth.

Feb 08 10 - 2:19am
ssa

@TheTits - sometimes therapy can be a little too "other-blaming." I'm sorry you had to go through all of that grief, but it is not that "douche's" fault. It's not your fault either. It was just a shitty situation. I think Erin's advice is incredibly sound. Grief by Proxy should consider what she needs to do for herself.

Feb 08 10 - 2:52am
TheTits

@ssa: Doing what you need to for your self to take the easiest way to "happy", when that is removing all support from someone in a terrible situation, is only sound advise for totally self-absorbed, entitled douchebags. Therapy as other blaming? You have no clue -- if you'd like one, in my case my husband started sleeping with a trust fund fattie the weekend I buried my mother and started digging out her house which was hoarded to the rafters, and a few months after I was diagnosed with lupus, and a year after I paid for a 2-month tour of Europe for him because I felt bad that his grades and GRE scores weren't good enough for him to get into grad school... and then I became too much trouble because I had the sads -- yeah, I'm blaming the other here, not for any good reason, not because human relationships should include reciprocal care-taking. I kinda doubt that this chickiedoo is hanging out with Mr. sad sack for no good reason -- it's likely he invested in her and she's balking at giving back.

Why no suggestions about how to have a better relationship through a trying time? What kind of selfish monsters have this kind of all or nothing approach? Do you leave your friends behind at bars when they've had too much to drink and are flirting with the rugby team, too?

Feb 08 10 - 3:07am
Jay

GBP should be worrying about her own feelings/interest. Looking at it from the prospective-dumpee's point-of-view, yeah, it sucks if a new relationship drops you just when you'd really be able to use their support...but if you've never developed friends prior in your life, that isn't the dumper's fault that you started one relationship ALMOST in time with a brand-new person that you'd like to have around now. If being dumped sends you into a bad spiral, how does that work...if you meet the person 4 months before life goes to hell and you become in a bad mood all the time (& thus unlikely to attract a new romantic partner), then they dump you, then the bad spiral is their fault? But if that relationship hadn't started 4 months prior, then who whould you be blaming the bad spiral on? You build your own life. If you build poorly, well, expect some not-so-great things to happen sometimes. Sounds like GBP's b.f. has built poorly.

Feb 08 10 - 4:20am
CD

hmmmm. the one thing about GBP's letter that left big questions is why she started questioning the relationship. was she already having doubts or is it out of (in)convenience over the ill dad? staying in a relationship for the sake of it, or sparing someone additional pain even when you yourself are not into it is not a smart move.

Feb 08 10 - 4:24am
jy

@TheTits, Grief by Proxy is not married. She (he?) has not promised any type of long term commitment to the boyfriend in question.
Do you think that perhaps you are somewhat biased? I agree, your situation sucks, but Erin's advice was not to take hundreds of dollars from the boyfriend and bolt. It was to look at the relationship outside of the shitty situation at hand and then make a decision.
Staying in a relationship out of guilt is not fair to either party involved.

Feb 08 10 - 8:37am
JB

Tough times do reveal the true nature of feelings. Usually. But I read somewhere that when their partners are diagnosed with breast cancer a huge percentage of men leave them because they can't cope with them not being strong. I think there is something of that going on here, and in that the first lw has had her doubts about the neediness of her guy for a while and this awful situation has highlighted it. Who is to say she can't remain a supportive friend while telling him she doesn't think they are right for each other. That might make him feel not so left.

Feb 08 10 - 8:41am
AD

To the second letter writer. Seems to me she is doing all the work and contending with a less than honest boyfriend. Why wasn't he upfront about the nature of his previous relationship with this other woman? And the reluctance to make the effort to see her. Hmmm. I smell a rat. I think he is having his cake and eating it too, and I think she should cut her losses and dump him.

Feb 08 10 - 9:47am
Sare

The girl in the second letter needs to get the fuck out. The guy is a tool, plain and simple. Sleep overs for fucks sake?! Run, girlie. He isn't worth it. Let his codependent ex have him.

Feb 08 10 - 10:18am
cc

grief by proxy: it's a shame things happened like that but it's not your fault, and you can't wait around forever. i had a similar situation, i was dating a guy i wasn't really into and i wanted to break up with him- and then he got fired, and then his mom got arrested, then his parents started getting divorced... i had been looking for an out for months but realized that bad things were just going to keep happening, and timing wasn't going to help (i was trying to be supportive but i really didn't like the guy in the first place!). i won't pretend the breakup was pretty, but it was necessary and now he's out of my life forever! (and i'm with a much cooler guy about to get hitched! woop!)

Feb 08 10 - 12:58pm
bob

Guys sleeping with their female friends, exes or not, is a great idea. I do it all the time and its improved my sex life.

Feb 08 10 - 12:59pm
obo

GBP: Get the fuck out. You're doing him and yourself a favor.

Feb 08 10 - 1:18pm
ProfRobert

Erin's advice to GBP is spot on. Ask yourself those three questions, and act based solely on how you answer them. Until you sign on for the "for better or for worse" deal, you're not obliged to stay around. But if you think there's a future, and this is a temporary (albeit months-long) situation, then it is worth sticking it out. Having a reliable partner to see you through the hard times is a wonderful thing, and if this guy is the real deal, he'll be there for you when you need it (and, sadly, that day comes for all of us).
For FB: Get out now. You are not happy, and this situation, even if the guy isn't cheating on you with his best friend, is not going to end well. I also want to pick up on your remark that you are "completely in love with him" but you "still find it hard to trust him." That condition is not "love"; it's "infatuation." True love has trust as an element. Your ego is wrapped up in whether he picks you or this other woman. Try to step away from that -- you deserve better (because another element of true love is respect, and he's not behaving in a way that is respectful of your feelings or your relationship). Dump him now. You can and will do better.

Feb 08 10 - 1:42pm
Lisa

Friend Bested: I think Erin was a little too gentle with you. Cut and run. Immediately. At BEST, this guy is too stupid and/or thoughtless to consider that sharing a bed with another woman might hurt his current girlfriend's feelings. Sure, you might be tempted to give him a couple points for being honest about that, but he was DISHONEST about the nature of their relationship from the start. Not to be cynical, but even if you ask him to stop the bed-sharing, who's to say he will? It's not like you'll be unexpectedly dropping by his place. Aside from that, they broke up ONE MONTH before you started dating him. That's way too soon to go from one serious relationship to the next. Plus, they clearly haven't spent any time distancing themselves from each other. Finally, the biggest piece of wisdom I gained in over a decade of dating -- if a guy is frequently talking to you about an ex (no matter what it is that he's saying), it's a damn good indication he's not over her. People only have a pressing need to talk about those with whom they're still infatuated.

Feb 08 10 - 3:37pm
jaclyn

run away, friend bested. just. run.

Feb 08 10 - 5:06pm
pjc

Dear Miss,

I've said it before and I'll say it again. You are HOT!! Scorching! Sizzling! Flames burning my eyes, Hot!! I want you, always have and always will.
Please, lets do it, lets do it now.

pjc

Feb 08 10 - 8:16pm
mac

PJC - Get off her dick.

Feb 08 10 - 9:13pm
meh

GBP: The most telling aspect of the situation is that your BF is "always in a terrible mood because of his dad." You don't need to be a victim of friendly fire. If the relationship is not a source of comfort and solace to this guy, then what's the point of being in a relationship? Dump him and move on.

Feb 08 10 - 9:38pm
JPH

I concur with pjc. I think photos of Miss Information should show up on Nerve Premium, and soon.

Feb 08 10 - 11:30pm
raah

I think those of you criticizing the boyfriend of friend bested should consider his side of the story. Maybe he doesn't consider it to be a big deal, it is just sleeping on the same bed. What if the sex was just a mistake that the two of them want to put behind them, and just be friends? He may love the both of you, but if you are the one he is in love with, then what's the problem?

Mar 27 11 - 11:04am
Wini

Raah - the problem is that friend bested isn't comfortable with them sharing a bed. Ok, so the boyfriend doesn't consider it a big deal. That's not the issue! The issue is that he doesn't seem to care that his new woman is feeling hurt by their behaviour. Their behaviour as far as I can see is inappropriate. The ex is co-dependent and can't let him go. The boyfriend needs to start respecting friend bested, and start respecting their relationship. The first step in this direction would be to create some boundaries. 1. No more sleepovers. Beds are for lovers, not exes. Everyone knows that.

Feb 09 10 - 2:19am
PO

GRIEF needs to dump him quickly and with as little ceremony as possible. Not cruelly, just "rip it off." Sucks. But you know, so does life sometimes.

Feb 09 10 - 2:21am
PO

FRIEND BESTED is a retard. Dump him. They're still fucking, and will still be fucking long after you're gone. Get some self-respect for crying out loud.

Feb 09 10 - 3:02am
NU

Am I the only person here that is shaking my head at letting your boyfriend sleep with his ex in the same bed? Huh?

Feb 09 10 - 12:43pm
Brian

I know you're trying to be nice, but the second bit of advice is way too vague. It should be only these words: "Dump him. Dump him now."

Feb 09 10 - 12:48pm
Clementine

Friend Bested has very low standards. Why would ANYONE settle for a "boyfriend" who is dishonest, sleeps with his ex, and has no job or car? Unless his nickname is "Tripod," I can't figure this one out. It seems like any other guy would be an upgrade.

Feb 09 10 - 1:40pm
kari

Friend Bested: I stayed in a relationship where very similar things were happening. And believe me, it fucking sucked. He definitely still had feelings for his BFF/ex, which he would deny while sober, but which he would extoll in lavish terms when drunk. I stuck with it for various reasons, and it turned into a good relationship. It took a LOT of talking (and occasional screaming fights) but he eventually understood that he was obsessing with the ex, it wasn't fair to me, he needed to move on and establish boundaries, etc. Well OUR relationship ended almost a year ago, and now? He's obsessive about ME and is having a hard time moving on. So sometimes there's an in-between "well-meaning pie-in-the-sky" types and "total sleazeballs": the guy who Sucks At Boundaries And Won't Let Go. He's not a lot of fun to date, but he can be taught. Good luck to you. It'll be harder to fix if things are long-distance and money is tight.

Feb 09 10 - 2:15pm
Flynn

"Unless his nickname is tripod." HA! Love it.

Feb 09 10 - 11:40pm
artemiscuous

wtf is with the "who wants to come see someone who makes you feel constantly badgered" and "Professional Boyfriend Interrogator" stuff? Pretty sure FB has legit concerns here.

Feb 10 10 - 2:30am
motoko

Friend Bested - I've been the other woman in the scenario you describe. Your boy needs to learn to set up some boundaries and decide what he really wants - he can't be with you while simultaneously being so invested in her, it's like emotional bigamy and massively unfair to you. She hates it, too, (trust me) but there's a lot of inertia when you're in so deep with someone. Dump him, and tell him why: he's being a selfish child. And don't worry, it's not going to work out between them either, he's still got way too much growing up to do.

Feb 12 10 - 1:35pm
SG

The 2nd letter is ridiculous. DtMFA, girl!

Are you kidding? The first sentence alone has the writing on the wall.

"Three-month long-distance committed relationship"?

Sounds like something that would already be ephemeral and shaky with the best of guys, but with one sharing a bed with an ex he considers his best friend, 24-7, since he's jobless? Please.

I have some magic beans to sell you...

Feb 12 10 - 11:40pm
Mr

The second one is interesting. And to whoever wrote it- my relationship with my best friend (who is a guy) is just like that. I can't sleep a lot, and get terrified, and he's the only person who I ever feel safe with. So my suggestion, either give up, or meet her. If she likes you, you'll be set. And the fact that he told you means he doesn't see a reason for it to be a problem. Stupid I know, but true.

Mar 27 11 - 10:51am
DD8

Dear Mr - You need to respect that your best friend now has a new partner. As such, your reliance on him as your number one rescuer must now end. Learn to stand on your own two feet like a normal adult. Failing that, go and see a counsellor who can help free you from your co-dependence. It is inappropriate for you to be seeking comfort in your best friend now that s/he has a new partner he is committed to. That's called 'emotional bigamy' or 'being in an emotional relationship with two people.' Utterly inappropriate.

Feb 14 10 - 11:27am
noyb

I tried to date a guy who refused to give up his ex wife. I no longer date him. It doesn't matter that she pretended to like me. What matters is the fact that I helped in with his ailing mother, cleaned his house, and helped him with his ranch, while his ex got all the credit.
Dump him, he is bad news from the word go. You are being used.

Feb 15 10 - 3:24am
dallying d-bag

She should NOT NOT NOT be cool with him not completely letting go of a recent ex, and her not letting go of him. This comes from a girl who is still too close to her ex, who is keeping her in the dark about his new relationships. (I am trying to be cool, but hoping he'll come back.) Girls like us are a roadblock to everyone's happiness.

Plus, the second he feels put out by his suspicious new girlfriend, he'll run back to the cool old girlfriend, if even for a night.

Furthermore, if the girlfriend was a real friend, she'd step back and let him have a new relationship. Read the book Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Ex, there's a chapter about how to handle his exes.

Feb 16 10 - 1:35pm
KM

Re: Friend Bested, I date cross-country, so I feel the pain. Or, I felt it. I was relating to this letter until I got to the part "he even still shares a bed with her." This makes me wonder if he is actually your boyfriend, or if that is just the easiest term to use to indicate that the writer and he hook up sometimes. My guy and I are now committed, but for the first year he wasn't open to being exclusive. I was aware of his ex, the kind of girl whose Facebook profile picture is always of her in a bikini. ("My favorite!" my girl friends all said in their most saccharine voices when I shared this with them.) A work project sent them both to Europe together for a couple of months during that first year, and I have neither asked nor do I wish to know what happened out there. And because he called "open relationship," I enjoyed taking a friendship to benefits with a bartender in my city. Ever since I told him I needed it to be exclusive, he's stuck to it, and so have I. All you can do is ask him to be exclusive. It's shockingly simple: he either will or he won't. And if he does want to be exclusive, don't make the mistake of bikini bitch and be jealous and suspicious all the time. Her loss...

Feb 24 10 - 1:11am
VF

I can offer a v similar situation to Grief by Proxy, and in fact at first I thought it might've been written by my brother's now ex-gf. Our dad died of cancer two years ago this month (Feb), about 6mos after my brother started seeing a girl. She was great while my dad was dying, driving my brother (who didn't have a license) to my uncle's (where my dad was) and back, and just generally being a standup person. She hadn't known my dad that long but liked him, as people tended to do. She was my brother's rock through the early grief period, though as my brother tells it she was starting to feel like her needs weren't being met in favor of his rather large emotional needs. Partly this was bc she herself was suppressing them, feeling that they weren't as important as his, but I can see how this would be an easy thing to do. Long story short, as you know, they didn't end up together, despite having a lot in common. This wasn't solely bc of the grief thing, she had several issues of her own that she refused to deal with, but the changes brought on by my dad's death definitely contributed. She didn't sign up for it, it's true.

However- my bf and I started going out right around when my dad died, and at first I was jealous of my brother for his gf getting to know my dad and my bf not (or not as my bf, anyway), but then I began to realize how much better we had it than they did, bc my bf knew what he was getting into when we started. Yes, I do sometimes still break down and need to be cuddled, and he has no problem with that. He's pretty great : )

So the moral is, yes this will be a shitty time for your bf. But if you're doubting it now, it's best for both of you if you own up to it. Don't lead him on and then dump him later, it'll just be delayed devastation. He needs to be with people who are equally in it with him, as I was with my brothers and my dad's extended family (my parents were divorced). Is there anyone he can get to help with his father? Family members or family friends?

My best to the both of you.

Mar 07 10 - 11:24am

HELLS NO!

Mar 26 10 - 11:36am
Sexy diamond

U can't luv ur guy and hate his dad.

Sep 07 11 - 7:21am
kaufen Generika Cial

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Jun 18 12 - 5:31pm
E

@TheTits

Guilt By Proxy shouldn't feel obligated to stay with someone she doesn't have feeling for. She can stay friends with the guy. It's probably better for them to break up anyways, so the guy can spend more time with his dad. You sound super bitter, which is completely understandable. However, Erin isn't a "selfish monster" just because she suggests that Guilt By Proxy shouldn't be chained to a relationship that isn't working due to circumstances beyond her control. And