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Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.


I live with my boyfriend and he writes his old girlfriends birthdays and their ages down on his calendar. He keeps the same info in his rolodex with their addresses. He becomes angry when I bring up getting rid of them and tells me I am being immature and they are just friends. He is also very jealous of me and doesn't want me to have any male friends. I don't understand why it's OK for him and not me.


It appears that your boyfriend is trying to hold on to his past while saying that he is committed to you. By maintaining a list of old girlfriends he is able to continue to see himself as a player with his harem. Were this not the case, he would have no objection to your maintaining contact with your old beaus.

In principle, there is nothing wrong with men and women maintaining contact with former lovers as friends. After all, they were intimate at one time and in love. Just because the love stops does not mean that the friendship must end. However, it is very difficult to maintain this in practice. When people separate, there are usually residual feelings held by at least one of the parties. Furthermore a new partner may feel jealous, threatened, or just uncomfortable with an old girlfriend or boyfriend of their lover. Except in rare circumstances where the friendship with an ex-lover has had time to mature and work out the unfinished business, out of respect for one's partner, and in order to reduce the potential conflict, it is often best to make a clean break with one's past.

The other issue you raise, about having opposite sexed friendships, is a very different issue. These are friendships that have no prior romantic/sexual history. Men and women should have friends of both sexes. Anyone who tries to prohibit their partner from having platonic friendships with people of the opposite sex, has insecurities that should be resolved. Your boyfriend seems to be in this category. Possessiveness and jealousy always are signs of insecurity. He may be projecting his fantasies of his relationships on to you, believing that you would be doing with your friends that which he is thinking or doing with his.


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