I’ve caught my girlfriend talking to and texting her ex more than a few times over our relationship. I can’t trust her. However, after talking with her about it several times, she assures me she is over him now. I think that he really messed with her head from years of abuse. I treat her like the queen she deserves to be, but I don’t think she’s over him. I suspect she is talking with him again. What should I do? – William, 54, Seal Beach, CA
There are a lot of things going on here, although a few key words give me a pretty good idea of what’s wrong. It sounds like you’re suffering from Nice Guy Syndrome. Here is why. First, Nice Guys like “project” women whom they believe they can fix. Your gal sounds like a fixer-upper. Second, you used the term “queen.” When a nice guy treats a woman like a queen, he does nice things for her, expecting something in return. Queen treatment is actually a turn-off for most women. Women that continuously need fixing will take advantage of it. Third, if a woman is genuinely attracted to you, she won’t be covertly communicating with her ex. (Unless, of course, she and her ex have kids, which is an entirely different story.)
My experience tells me that you’ve probably been coming on too strong. You are spending too much time around her and are being needy, especially right after the times you’ve found her communicating with her ex. Men tend to double down in an attempt to compensate, thinking this will correct the situation. It does the exact opposite and will drive her into the arms of her ex. When one is not quite over their ex, they’ll think of the good times they had and not the bad. Absence creates attraction.
With the Covid-19 lockdowns, most couples are spending way too much time together. You’ve most likely been caught in that. That is exactly why you need to back off and give her some space. Let her contact you when she is ready. Use absence in your favor, just like it has worked for her ex. Keep in mind, however, that this is not the same as playing games. You need to sort things out, figure out if you really are in a relationship with her, and overcome your Nice Guyness. Get the book No More Mister Nice Guy by Robert Glover. I recommend listening to the audio format in the car to and from work. Every time you feel the urge to contact her, go listen to the book instead. Once you finish it, you’ll have a completely different perspective on how to approach things.
What if she does not call? Then you know where you really stand. It’s important to remember that you can’t change her. You can only change yourself and challenge yourself to be a better man, a 50 Dater man.