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Her Ex Is Still in the Picture!

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Dear Paulette,

The person I’m seeing only split up with her ex about three months ago. She said she’s not ready for a full-on relationship, which to that I said, “I’m willing to take it at whatever pace you are happy with.” After all, I really like her and we enjoy spending time together. The only other issue is she still talks and sees her ex as friends, but it’s only making it harder for her… but she won’t admit it!

What should I do, and how should I work this out between us? I don’t want to lose her as I’m really happy since I met her.


Dear JDater,

Thanks for your question. I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying spending time with someone that makes you happy, and that you really like her.

It sounds positive that she has been honest with you from the start. She told you that she’s not ready for a full-on relationship, and she also told you that she still sees her ex as friends. Hopefully she’s clear about why they broke up, and there are no residual romantic feelings.

When there are, however, you’re right that it can be a challenge to be fully open to someone new, and to move on. Having said this, I have seen cases where exes were able to remain friends and they can both date other people. It depends on why they broke up and how clear they both are.

I assume you’ve only been dating her a month or two? Also, has she said that she’s dating other people – and are you?

Even more important than gaining clarity about whether she’s over her ex and whether she’s dating people other than you, is being clear with yourself about what you want. People date for different reasons – to have fun, sex, companionship, a long-term relationship or marriage. What are you looking for?

If you’re clear that you want a long-term committed relationship that leads to marriage, than it might make sense to find someone who wants that too. You can date the woman we are discussing and others to see who best matches your values, level of commitment and objectives over time.

If you’re just looking to have fun than you can date her (and other people if you both agree), and just enjoy the process. What’s important is that you don’t become exclusive and overinvest in her if her expectations and dating needs are different than yours. It may take some time to tell.


Dr. Paulette Kouffman Sherman is a psychologist and the author of “Dating from the Inside Out” and “When Mars Women Date.” She has a private practice in Manhattan and does dating coaching by phone. Learn more at Dr.PauletteSherman.com and WhenMarsWomenDate.com.
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