Ask Lisa: I am uncomfortable with my boyfriend’s boundaries with his ex-wife

My boyfriend sold his house and his new place was supposed to be ready in April. He was divorced on March 18th and planned to leave April 1st. The ex-wife and him are still living in one bedroom apartment and she is moving into the same building under construction when it is ready. He has the means to leave the apt and get his own place and they share dogs. He cannot call me or communicate with me when he is home with her. I don’t feel comfortable with the situation.

He is a kind guy not trying to hurt feelings but I find this to be an unhealthy situation. Now the condo won’t be ready until June which is 2 more months. I don’t think I can handle the extra 2 months under these conditions and he always wants to travel and meet me when he has free time and acts like he truly loves me and never was in real love with his ex. Is it normal for him to want to stay with her because of the dogs and not trying to hurt her feelings?

Lisa’s thoughts…

Your instincts are there to serve us and it sounds like there are red flags waving that are making you uncomfortable.  There are so many great reasons to give relationship transitions time.  These things are tricky and whether it’s one or both needing to heal or one or both feeling badly about leaving and feeling they owe something to the other, it’s not a great environment for a second relationship to take form.  If indeed he loves you and wants to be with you, he clearly is not fully emotionally disconnected from the situation.  Whether or not he cares for her or is so sensitive to her feelings that he’s over-compensating is hard to to know.  But I can understand your distress around waiting for their final break up to occur.  It really hasn’t on an emotional level.

What is going on between him and his “ex” is unclear but what is – is that there are diffuse boundaries all around in this scenario.  If you two are truly committed to being together then would it do harm to tell him you need to separate until he is fully untangled?  Perhaps this will speed up his process.  At the very least you can set some healthy boundaries.


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Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT is the creator of with emotional and relationship health articles, guides, courses and other tools for individuals and couples. She is a frequent consultant for the media having appeared in,, and others. Lisa has a private practice in Marin County, CA and offers Emotional Health and Relationship Consultations via email, phone or video conference.

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