The following question comes from a guy navigating the tricky waters of love and past relationships. He finds himself in a quandary: his girlfriend shares a professional and social circle with her ex, leading him to ponder whether he should support her in moving on or consider parting ways.

I have a girlfriend, and she has an ex as a co-worker. They are also inside the same circle of close friends, who may interact and gather often outside the job description. Should I patiently accompany her and help her to fully move on from her ex, or should we just break it off and let her heal from her past? Because sometimes, she still reminds me of how happy they were together and feels those butterflies when she’s alone or when her ex gives her attention.

My response:

You’re in a situation where you’re already in a relationship with her; she’s now the girlfriend. During the dating phase, you should’ve already known about her ex being a coworker and being around her all the time. If you had found that out early, the right move would’ve been to keep it on a hookup and going-out level and not attach titles.

The one thing I stress to you guys is you do not want a woman with exes in the background. Sure, if she has a kid and the kid’s father is her ex, that’s a different story. But for situations you can control, your job as a guy is to analyze the situation and ensure a smooth path into the relationship and handling it once you’re in.

So, if I’m looking at this situation with this girl, I’d think, “She’s cute, attractive, we have good hookups, but what’s the deal with her ex?” She currently works with him, sees him at work and outside, and they sometimes hang out. I gotta ask myself, “is this something I’m okay with?”

Her being around an ex she’s not quite over or still has feelings for doesn’t make it easy to date her or handle the relationship. I wouldn’t have rushed to make her my girlfriend; we’d have stayed on a hookup level until she expressed wanting to take it further.

When she did, I’d ask, “Do you currently have exes in the background?” If she mentions her coworker, I’d discuss how often they see each other and what it means for us. I’d express that I don’t hang around with exes and don’t expect my partner to either. If she’s unwilling to change the situation, I’d suggest keeping things as they are and continue talking to other women until she decides.

Sure, I’d still talk to her, but I’d make it clear that her situation with her ex is a serious concern. If she’s not willing to address it, I’d reconsider the relationship. As a guy, you have the right to set boundaries. You’re not obligated to say yes to every woman who wants a relationship, especially if the situation doesn’t align with what you want.

It’s not your job to make her move on from her ex. If you’re already in a relationship and you’re not comfortable with the situation, have a conversation, but be prepared to walk away if things don’t change.

For future reference, do your due diligence. If you know a woman has exes in her social circle and she’s still heavily involved with them, it’s probably not going to be an easy relationship. Relationships are challenging enough without adding unnecessary complications.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you. I’m just sharing my perspective, but you know your situation better. I wouldn’t have accepted this situation from the start, but that’s just me.

Harry Wilmington is a dating coach who helps men navigate the murky waters of today’s modern dating world.

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