I have been with my girlfriend for about six months now. Just last week we were on a date at a restaurant. She left her phone at the table while she went to the restroom. I know I shouldn’t have been too nosy but I checked her phone and found out that she still talks with her ex-boyfriend. Few days later, I indiscreetly inquired about her ex and she lied to me saying that she’s lost contact with him. I don’t want to come out as a guy who is prickly about his girlfriend’s ex but after knowing that she’s been constantly keeping in touch with her former lover, wouldn’t that affect our relation? Is there a way out except a warlike confrontation between the two of us?
Relationship is like a journey. You find someone, you develop certain liking towards this person and moment by moment you walk together towards dreams and hopes of a future together. But in a journey, not everything is within your control. Sometimes the bus breaks down. Sometimes the weather is so bad that you have to stop and find shelter. And there is always a looming chance that you’ll never reach the destination.
You’re right to fear that your relationship with your girlfriend might be affected by her inability to let go of her previous relationship. You have been invested in this relationship for six months and I am sure, like any other human being, you hope that this would lead to something concrete, something beautiful and something that would last forever. I am also sure that, as any other person, when you started this relationship, something inside you hoped and believed that your relationship would flow smoothly without having any obstacles on the road. Now this thing you’ve discovered is probably making you realize that the journey might not be as smooth as you’d expected.
But what does that mean for how you move ahead in this relationship? I think it is important to address what is eating you up. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a ‘warlike’ confrontation but conversation is important. Without bringing up what you saw on the phone, ask her how she feels about the relationship between the two of you. Have an honest conversation about your feelings. Find out if she feels that your relationship has a future and if it is building towards something. Ask her if she feels cared for and understood and if she cares and understands you.
Instead of fearing the ghost of yester years, focus on the building the present. Focus on strengthening the relationship that you have with her. Focus on understanding and being understood. Focus on building honest and beautiful moments. Focus on discovering love. You’ve been in relationship for just six months, in the next six, you might find out she’s not the one. You might fall in love with someone else. Or she might find out you’re not the one, but instead of going back to her ex, she might find someone now. The future of the relationship is unpredictable. And there is always a small chance that the past might catch up and destroy your potential future. But you have no control over future or past. All you can and should do is in present. If what you have in present is strong and beautiful, the ghost of the past can’t touch you. It is not about how strong your obstacles are, it is about how strong your relationship is and if it has the strength to carry on in the harshest of weather.
Swastika Shrestha is the co-founder and head of training and support at Teach for Nepal. She has several years of experience training and mentoring youth leaders. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org