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Bf wouldn't accept me talking to my ex who has cancer


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My boyfriend and I just broke up after a tumultuous 10 months.  He doesn't believe exes, or even men and women in general, can be friends. My ex and I are good friends after a long-term relationship that faded to a platonic friendship for the last several years.  He lives across the country, and I don't want to get back together with him, so he was no threat to my bf.  I cut off contact with him a few months after I started dating my bf to comply with his boundaries.  I was sad and felt guilty to hurt him abruptly, but it seemed reasonable to do for a new relationship.

My bf and I broke up and got back together many times. After our last, nastiest breakup that seemed final to me (he called me bad names, said he didn't want to hear from me again, and said he was going on dates again), I reached out to my ex to reconnect as friends.  He told me he recently found out he has cancer.  It sounded very serious, and since he has no support network, I wanted to provide emotional support -- to listen to him if he wants to talk/chat so he doesn't feel alone.

My bf reached out to get back together, so I told him I talked to my ex and about his cancer. He said I was a cheater for going to him the instant we broke up, that he had always been on my mind during the relationship (I may have missed our friendship for several months but I got over it as I fell in love with my bf).  We managed to reconcile after he accepted me communicating with my ex with boundaries and for no more than 1 year, but he kept changing his mind while I offered less and less communication to compromise.  We finally broke up after I got tired of the ultimatums and other issues.

My bf said I lack empathy for not caring about his feelings, while he talked about his dates and reaching out to an ex-girlfriend to hurt me.  He keeps in touch with an ex-wife apparently because of their children, but he's not transparent about it and who knows what they talk about (she wanted to reconcile after their divorce several years ago).  He's not even close to his child, he lives far away and talks to them infrequently, so why does he need to get updates from the ex-wife instead of talking to his child directly who is old enough to have a serious conversation?  Frustrated by his rigidness and double standards.

Am I so unreasonable or selfish for wanting to give temporary emotional support to my ex?  I would think serious illness is a mitigating circumstance.

Edited by anon807968
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He is very clearly double standard. He can date when broken up but you can’t talk to an ex who is very sick? What a fabulous human being who doesn’t talk to his kids ? Yup, he is a real prize. 
 

Just break up . He isn’t an honourable human being . 

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Sorry about all this. 

I can't help but wonder if, in writing all that down, you can feel that you're describing a relationship that did not work for either of you in so many ways—the sort of thing that no amount of ruminating and rationalizing can salvage. And I'm wondering if you can find some peace in that simple assessment of the past 10 months, away from the weeds of exes, cancer, and all that.

But, to wade into those weeds...

Multiple breakups in less than a year? Pretty bad sign, right there, regardless of the specifics. As for the specifics? Well, it seems this guy is rigid and insecure in ways that are, frankly, a bit frightening. Stir in the double standard—him staying in touch with an ex, you forbidden to, his calling communicating with someone with cancer "cheating" even though you were not even in a relationship—and you've got enough finely enriched human dysfunction to power a nuclear reactor. Per your writing, which is full of warmth and generosity that he is probably immune to appreciating, he still jumps off the page as a human being to steer clear from.   

Big lesson here, as I see it?

You've got a great, unique friendship with someone you were once romantically involved with. That's a part of you that you shouldn't feel ashamed off, or made to feel ashamed of, so perhaps this is a moment to explore a hard question: why were you so quick to let that go?

Will some people not be cool/comfortable with that friendship? Certainly. Those people, many of whom will be wonderful in countless ways, are not for you. Give yourself some time to shore up those boundaries in you, so they can guide you in future relationships, and you'll be able to look back on this complicated, painful time as one that helped sharpen the compass to point you toward the type of sustained connection you're after. 

All of which is to say: no, you're not remotely selfish or unreasonable to want to be friends with this ex, cancer or not. This man is never going to grasp that, no different than a person who will never grasp quantum physics. To think that he might—well, that would be unreasonable, and would put your self on a path where it would likely start feeling very lost very quickly, consumed by the selfishness of another. 

 

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"My bf and I broke up and got back together many times."  <<<  This should tell you something right away.

Your BF is so unempathetic regarding what your ex is facing.  That should speaks volumes to you.  In other words,  BIG red flag.  Leave this selfish and callus person, unless you want to become embroiled in a very miserable life.  Don't do that to yourself, please.

Also, you most definitely are not being unreasonable or selfish.  Rather, I see you as a caring and kind individual.  He, on the other hand, seems to be quite selfish (among other negative qualities),  chauvinistic, and uses the double standard to his benefit.  His moral compass, or lack thereof, leaves much to be desired.  Leave this individual.  You'll do yourself a big favour.   Block him and support your ex.  I cannot imagine how frightened your ex must feel.  Be there for him; he needs all the support that he can get during this difficult time.    

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56 minutes ago, anon807968 said:

Am I so unreasonable or selfish for wanting to give temporary emotional support to my ex?  

No but you both are unreasonable for expecting one or the other to change. You're incompatible so let go of the relationship. Avoid individuals who try to change you and don't do the same to others or expect him to like what you're doing. Dating isn't a grand project or one where you have to lecture each other or have pissing contests about who is better or who is right. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, bluecastle said:

I can't help but wonder if, in writing all that down, you can feel that you're describing a relationship that did not work for either of you in so many ways—the sort of thing that no amount

@bluecastleThank you for your thoughtful, insightful response. Yes, we both tried to make it work despite obvious incompatibilities. We did love each other and maybe we were hooked on the drama of breakups and making up.  

1 hour ago, bluecastle said:

You've got a great, unique friendship with someone you were once romantically involved with. That's a part of you that you shouldn't feel ashamed off, or made to feel ashamed of, so perhaps this is a moment to explore a hard question: why were you so quick to let that go?

I cut out my ex because I lied to my bf once and didn't want him to dump me.  Long story short, I lied about when my ex and I last emailed.  Not that I had anything to hide, and I showed him my emails so he could see for himself.  I was just conflict avoidant and felt uneasy about his reaction.  I convinced him to not dump me after I said I'd end contact with my ex.

I really regret that I lied.  I understand how I hurt his feelings and broke his trust.  But he has trust issues because of his past -- he couldn't trust me and imagined other things about my character/values to question.  I tried to make up for it since then, putting up with his interrogations and accusations for months.  Yet he'd disregard that I forgave him for lying to me for several months about a potential dealbreaker.

I do need to work on my boundaries. I don't have much experience with relationships and my bf made me feel it was wrong and I'm abnormal to want to stay in touch with my ex.  He was verbally abusive and I think I got brainwashed into making excuses for him.  Fortunately, my ex having cancer made me strong enough to finally end the relationship, as I saw that my bf was not worth cutting out my ex.

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3 hours ago, anon807968 said:

Am I so unreasonable or selfish for wanting to give temporary emotional support to my ex?  I would think serious illness is a mitigating circumstance.

Sure it is okay to support someone you can call 'a friend'.. but sadly you're involved with an idiot 😕 .

Someone who can cross those lines but will penalize you if you do it.

Has been a rough 10 mos?  I have no idea why you keep going back to him?

After your first BU, you should have just kept walking. Because this behaviour is damaging!  He is doing the push/pull. Which I am sure is affecting you.

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I would be way more worried about this

3 hours ago, anon807968 said:

he called me bad names, said he didn't want to hear from me again, and said he was going on dates again

and why you even allowed somebody like that back. Not really a good person at all. He holds a firm grip on you and you allow him that by constantly excusing him by saying how he only has "trust issues" and stuff like that. No, he is an abusive Ahole. You need to deal with that and get out from there fast.

Also, cancer is a serious ilness in any form. Depending on form it may only take days when your friend is no longer with us. So if you want to reach out and be there for him, just do that and dont mind the idiot bf at all. 

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4 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

After your first BU, you should have just kept walking. Because this behaviour is damaging!  He is doing the push/pull. Which I am sure is affecting you.

Funny thing is he thinks I was doing the push/pull and played games.  He said I was distant for most of our relationship.  I did have my guard up because of our frequent arguments. I broke up with him many times because I was fed up with the pattern of our arguments -- I'd tell him he said something that hurt/upset me, but he'd get defensive, dismiss my feelings, attack me, and make himself the victim. But then I'd miss him and reach out to make up half the time because he has good points like he can be sweet and loving. I also forget the bad easily.

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7 minutes ago, Kwothe28 said:

and why you even allowed somebody like that back. Not really a good person at all. He holds a firm grip on you and you allow him that by constantly excusing him by saying how he only has "trust issues" and stuff like that. No, he is an abusive Ahole. You need to deal with that and get out from there fast.

Also, cancer is a serious ilness in any form. Depending on form it may only take days when your friend is no longer with us. So if you want to reach out and be there for him, just do that and dont mind the idiot bf at all. 

Yes, I stopped making excuses for him and realized that he's an abusive jerk.  He is a hateful person and would say mean things about other people, excusing it as jokes, and he finally turned that hate on me.

My bf insisted for a long time that my ex lied about having cancer, because it was too coincidental that he was diagnosed shortly before we reconnected.  Didn't even believe me when I showed him test results. Nice, huh?  Fortunately, my ex is responding well to medicine so he's out of the woods for now.

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20 minutes ago, anon807968 said:

Funny thing is he thinks I was doing the push/pull and played games.  He said I was distant for most of our relationship.  I did have my guard up because of our frequent arguments. I broke up with him many times because I was fed up with the pattern of our arguments -- I'd tell him he said something that hurt/upset me, but he'd get defensive, dismiss my feelings, attack me, and make himself the victim.

Okay, so you were both acting out in bad ways...

If you look at your patterns.. inability to truly mesh or get along, insults & arguments, etc. Was a wreck, right?

So, is best to have nothing more to do with someone like this.. you were no good for each other. ( toxic).

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First off the simple part is you need to stop talking to your current ex.  Make him a permanent ex by deleting him off everything and blocking him.  He is a horrible bf ex or no ex in the picture.

 Now the hard part.  You need to accept that a lot of people are not cool with ex's in the picture.  Simple fact.  So that means you need to be upfront pretty early on that you are close with one of your ex's and if that is a problem then the dating doesn't go any further. 

This ex as friends debate has been on this forum long before I was on here and it will continue for a long time.  Personally I don't think it is a good idea because it ALWAYS causes problems.  I don't care if someone says they are totally cool with it they will still not like it some how, some day.  They may never say it out loud but it will be there causing an issue.  It is human nature.

That isn't to say you cannot have an ex as a friend, you just need to accept and understand that it will make things more challenging at times in any relationship you may be in.

Steer clear of the jerk you were dating and focus on your friend that needs you.  That is all that is really important right now.

 Lost

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10 hours ago, anon807968 said:

My boyfriend and I just broke up after a tumultuous 10 months.

My bf and I broke up and got back together many times. 

This isn't about your ex. This is about an abusive controlling jerk.

Delete and block him and all his people from ALL your social media and messaging apps.

Do not go back. Read up on abusive relationships. It's all there. He's a classic example of it.

Your ex's medical condition has nothing to do with whether you stay friends or not.

Either way, a creep who marches into your life dictating what you can and can't do is someone you leave immediately.

Take some time off from dating. Perhaps consider therapy to explore why you got involved in an abusive relationship.

Don't use your ex's medical condition as an excuse to stay in touch. If you want to stay in touch that's fine but you don't need dramatic reasons to.

 

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7 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

Either way, a creep who marches into your life dictating what you can and can't do is someone you leave immediately.

He had the choice to leave and so did I, so I'm not sure he was actually controlling in this matter.  When we started dating, he never told me to stop talking to my ex (I made that decision so he wouldn't break up with me and I agreed he was right).  But I guess it was how he gradually imposed his demands on me as our relationship progressed.

Anyway, he was controlling in other ways, e.g. he didn't like what I read/watched for entertainment, or that I occasionally chatted with male coworker friends I knew for years.  I stopped mentioning a lot of things to avoid snide comments and arguments.  He even wanted to break up if I took a job that he thought could affect how often we saw each other, yet he took a job that moved him out of state.  He was already this controlling and verbally abusive in 10 months, scary to think how he'd be if we were married.

I won't go back, and fortunately we have a clear dealbreaker now.  I do need to take time to myself and understand why I put up with his abuse.

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To me, there's something severely wrong with a parent who barely has anything to do with their child. I can't figure out why that wouldn't have been a dealbreaker in itself to you. Doesn't that show you a lot about a person?

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Sounds like you've got a great perspective on this. Dig in a bit—without judgement—and you'll find some places in yourself to get intimate with so they don't get exploited by others. 

My read on this? Your ex, your friendship: none of that was actually an issue. He'd have found something else to get hung up on, as it seems he found plenty: what you watched on TV, how you communicated with a co-worker, and so on.

We all have insecurities, and relationships invariably pour some kerosene on them. But his? They're so volatile that even a drop of kerosene creates a fire. Hurt people, as the saying goes, hurt people. He is that. This was that.

 

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5 hours ago, Andrina said:

To me, there's something severely wrong with a parent who barely has anything to do with their child. I can't figure out why that wouldn't have been a dealbreaker in itself to you. Doesn't that show you a lot about a person?

Early on he told me he talked to his kid often. He had to move far away for work (jobs in his field are concentrated in our area), and he was bitter about his divorce, complaining men end up the losers and don't get custody even if the woman cheated. His child sent him a nice father's day card the previous year, so I assumed they have a decent relationship. I didn't ask many questions bc it seemed like a sore spot for him. He was very defensive about his past and felt like I criticized him if I asked more than a few questions.

The day we broke up, I found out he last talked to his child 1.5 months ago. That was a red flag.

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4 hours ago, Autolearys said:

No matter how you look at this situation this so called boyfriend is not the one for you. If he keeps making threats to end the relationship he just is too immature for a relationship and he's manipulating you. If my wife talked to her ex and he had cancer I would be a little jealous at time too, but would never threaten to end things or that something was going on. I should be confident in our relationship not to be too threatened by this action. But at the same time a certain amount of comprimise of time spend talking to the ex should be agreed upon. 

Woman love to heal old wounds and maybe you have some sort of guilt that your healthy and your ex is not. For whatever reason a healthy relationship is a push and pull,  communicate and work out issues as they arrive. I feel if its meant to be things will just work out!

I wish he were mature and secure. If he were in my situation, I would support him helping his ex. I kept asking him what would he do, and all he had to say finally was that he wouldn't do what I'm doing, and that he doesn't want to feel like he's a bad guy for wanting no contact. I did say how I'd limit my communication so he'd be comfortable. He agreed at first but changed his mind after a couple weeks. I never talked about my ex unless he asked -- it's not like I rubbed it in or acted differently like I was sad or preoccupied.

I don't feel guilty I'm healthy, just was so sad and worried that my ex could die soon without any support. I care about him and want to help him, same as with any close friend who's alone.

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I'd consider these two separate issues.

First, am I ready to be done with my ex of my OWN accord? 

Second, WHY am I trying to keep a BF who is incompatible, breaks up with me a lot and mistreats me?

If I'm not ready to quit my involvement with my ex, then that's my private decision--and it comes with consequences, such as putting off potential dates. This doesn't make my choice 'right' or 'wrong' in a general, ethical or moral sense, it just makes me incompatible with anyone who doesn't believe in dating someone who is still involved with an ex.

I'd keep the choice above self-contained, first. THEN I'd apply the real-world consequences to it. 

Unfortunately, in this case, you're trying to date a BF who's a jerk to you, is going to remain a jerk regardless of what you do, and since he's already exposed himself as a jerk, I'd question why I'd still be attracted to him--at all--much less in regard to my choice of remaining involved with my ex.

Friendship with an ex is messy business. It seems workable while in a private bubble, but the real world will penetrate that bubble from either side at some point.

So if ex were to find someone who he wanted to make his GF but she didn't want to date him unless he ditched you, what would be your position on that?

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11 hours ago, catfeeder said:

Second, WHY am I trying to keep a BF who is incompatible, breaks up with me a lot and mistreats me?

So if ex were to find someone who he wanted to make his GF but she didn't want to date him unless he ditched you, what would be your position on that?

He has good points and we have good chemistry. He talked about breaking up but we'd only break up because I wanted to. He wanted our relationship more than I did for most it. He's an external thinker and I think he wanted me to dispel his doubts about our relationship. I feel I'm responsible for the major issues on his side -- that if I didn't lie, if I didn't want to talk to my ex now, if I didn't argue and just agreed with him about various issues (like it's wrong to want to be friends with exes), he wouldn't be so hurt, angry, and frustrated with me, and he would not have lashed out. I also thought I could learn to adjust to his strong personality and be less sensitive. He was abused as a child and has a lot of pain from his past, so I hoped if he felt secure I love him, that would resolve much of our conflict.

I would be ok with my ex ending contact with me. I want him to be happy, and I'd be happy if he found a good woman. If my ex were not sick, I most likely would have ended contact again to stay with my bf. 

Edited by anon807968
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12 hours ago, anon807968 said:

He wanted our relationship more than I did for most it. He's an external thinker and I think he wanted me to dispel his doubts about our relationship. I feel I'm responsible for the major issues on his side -- that if I didn't lie, if I didn't want to talk to my ex now, if I didn't argue and just agreed with him about various issues (like it's wrong to want to be friends with exes), he wouldn't be so hurt, angry, and frustrated with me, and he would not have lashed out.

I can't help but read this and see you taking on way too much responsibility here, internalizing his judgements as fact.

No, it was not cool to lie, but look at your reason for lying: you feared his reaction, his potential interpretation of that contact. That is what you need to pay attention to, assuming you want a relationship where being yourself is not going to disturb another self. Seems you'd already assumed you needed to hide, edit, and shave down parts of who you are to accommodate this man's anxieties—not a good place to be with someone you hardly know. 

12 hours ago, anon807968 said:

If my ex were not sick, I most likely would have ended contact again to stay with my bf. 

But when you re-initiated contact with your ex, after the breakup, you didn't know he had cancer, correct? Sounds to me like you just missed your friend, were reclaiming who you were—who you are—and then discovered this awful news about him. Just think you want to keep that in perspective here...

If you want to reevaluate this friendship, or friendships with exes—great. But do it for you, not for someone you hardly know. Yes, it complicates things, as others have noted. But so do political and religious views, ideas about having kids, dreams of where to live, and so on. Changing all this to accommodate the potential of a relationship is different from authentic personal growth. Seems this brief time with this one man has blurred that line a bit, in your spirit. Take this has a good time to explore those lines on your own, for future connections.

Good points, good chemistry: you will find this with many, many people. Think of it as reason to keep exploring, not a reason to start bending into shapes that aren't actually you.  

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6 hours ago, bluecastle said:

Seems you'd already assumed you needed to hide, edit, and shave down parts of who you are to accommodate this man's anxieties—not a good place to be with someone you hardly know. 

This is very true. I felt I had to not mention things and suppress my opinions to get along with him.

Right, I didn't know my ex had cancer until I reached out.  I missed our friendship but honestly wanted a distraction from the previous breakup -- I didn't know if he'd reply to me.

Well, good chemistry is hard to find for me, and I'm not young. But I know that shouldn't be a reason to stay in a bad relationship.

Your post and others in this thread are helping me so much to stick to this breakup, thank you.

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21 hours ago, anon807968 said:

He has good points and we have good chemistry. He talked about breaking up but we'd only break up because I wanted to. He wanted our relationship more than I did for most it. He's an external thinker and I think he wanted me to dispel his doubts about our relationship. I feel I'm responsible for the major issues on his side -- that if I didn't lie, if I didn't want to talk to my ex now, if I didn't argue and just agreed with him about various issues (like it's wrong to want to be friends with exes), he wouldn't be so hurt, angry, and frustrated with me, and he would not have lashed out. I also thought I could learn to adjust to his strong personality and be less sensitive. He was abused as a child and has a lot of pain from his past, so I hoped if he felt secure I love him, that would resolve much of our conflict.

I would be ok with my ex ending contact with me. I want him to be happy, and I'd be happy if he found a good woman. If my ex were not sick, I most likely would have ended contact again to stay with my bf. 

I am sorry I was severely abused as a kid and I don’t abuse people. That is an excuse. 

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38 minutes ago, anon807968 said:

You're right that's an excuse. I'm sorry you were abused. He never got therapy (doesn't believe in it) and he has low emotional intelligence. From a brief interaction, my friend thought he could be narcissistic.

To become better one needs therapy. He doesn’t want therapy because then he would have to become accountable for his actions and words. Either that or he doesn’t want to go through the pain of having to get better because again he would have to be accountable for himself and wouldn’t be able to be a victim. 

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