He’ll be living near his ex

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Hi Meredith,

I first met my current in boyfriend years ago in college, where we flirted (and more) but never officially dated. I always considered him a good friend and we kept in touch off and on after graduation. He joined the Marine Corps and I moved home.

Two years ago I dated a man who was a liar, a cheater, and emotionally abusive. He tore down my self esteem and looking back, I am embarrassed and horrified that I allowed myself to be treated in that manner. He changed me, creating much anxiety (and therapy).

This past fall, the Marine and I reconnected at a college reunion. He invited me to a ball in November, and shortly after asked me to be his girlfriend. Although long distance, we try to see each other once a month. I truly am in love with him. I don't think we are ready to move in together, and I'm not sure I want to give up my life in Boston, but I do see it moving in that direction. He has just been given orders for three years to live in a different southern state. He has given me no reason not to trust him, except that his ex-girlfriend who he keeps in touch with lives in the state he will be moving to. He has yet to mention this to me, only that he has "friends" in that area. (He doesn't realize I remember them dating.) The past few weeks I've been aching with an anxiety that I haven't felt since I dated my ex.

When I talk to him about us, he promises he is not wasting my time, nor would he put the effort into a long-distance relationship if he didn't think it was worth it. But why has he not told me about her? Could they truly just be friends and my past anxiousness is slinking its way into my current relationship?

– Worrisome, Boston

It's very possible that they're just friends. It's also possible that he doesn't even think of her as an ex-girlfriend.

Instead of stewing about unanswered questions, why don't you ask him whether this woman is the person you remember him dating? He'll probably confirm that detail and then clarify her place in his life. If it's not a big deal to him, it shouldn't be to you.

I understand why you're stressed. You've fallen for someone who's far away. Even without the ex issues (yours and his), you’d be upset about the distance.
Talk to your therapist about how to cope with the what-ifs, and please, when you're with your boyfriend, try to stay in the moment instead of obsessing about all that could go wrong. You won't have a future together if you can't focus on the present.

Readers? Is this ex a friend? Is this about the LW’s abusive ex or the distance? How can she enjoy this relationship with all of the stress?

– Meredith