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Sharing the Struggle: The Lingering Ex

Dear June, 

“I’ve been dating this guy for almost 2 months. We haven’t made it official yet, but he acts like my boyfriend and is super affectionate everytime we hang out. Recently he told me that he is joint owner of a cat that is his and his ex girlfriend’s. It stays at his place and his ex-gf comes and takes care of it and will watch it when he’s out of town. This was her cat originally but doesn’t want to take it. He says he doesn’t really want the cat. What should I think of this?”

-Cat’s Got My Tongue

Dear CGMT,

In a relationship we tend to make commitments out of love. We sign a lease, we get on a family plan and sometimes we adopt a pet. All with the intention of never having to worry about custody. However, that is not what is happening here. Your pseudo boyfriend has an ex that can’t or won’t let go. Her cat is a connection to a relationship lost and it gives her an excuse to inject herself into his life. I have to assume that your man is an animal lover, why else would he agree to such an intrusive arrangement. Count that as a small win.

Since you are not committed to one another, you can’t weigh in on this. Not yet. Right now, he has a more meaningful history with this cat than he does with you. Should he decide to make things exclusive with you, then you can tell him how this arrangement makes you feel. Chances are you will be a blessing in disguise. If he doesn’t like the cat he may just need an excuse to have his ex come get her pet.


The ex is the problem here, he may just be enabling her inadvertently. Breakups are hard and it sounds like he is trying not to break her heart any further. Show him that you can be understanding about this for the time being. When you two are committed you can work together to come up with a plan for transferring custody back to the ex.

For what it’s worth, this situation is not ideal. He is nurturing a connection to his past while trying to bring you into his future. That isn’t a comfortable feeling. The good thing is, it’s only temporary.

Best of luck,

June

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