30 second therapist

Help! My boyfriend is secretive about his ex

July 26, 2013 at 12:47 PM ET

This week, one reader says she's upset because she feels her boyfriend is hiding something, while another asks what she should do about a friend who wants to be more, but doesn't want to commit. Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle cuts through the fluff with her love advice in TODAY.com's "30-second therapist" series.

Q: I have been in a relationship with a guy for seven months, but he doesn’t want to talk about his past relationships. I found a message from his ex five months into our relationship, saying she was sorry about the argument they had, and that she missed him. I couldn’t find a reply to that message, so I asked him about it. He got furious and told me he didn’t see the need to discuss his past with me. I have an issue with this, because I always feel he’s hiding something. Please help!

—Want Openness

Dear Want Openness,

As two people spend time together, they begin to feel more trusting. This is what builds a deep bond. You say you’re “in a relationship with” this secretive guy. What has kept you around for seven months?

It sounds like dude is still emotionally attached to his ex! After this amount of time, you have an obligation to yourself to get answers. If your guy’s concealing, he’s lying. There are two kinds of lies: lies of omission and lies of commission. Neither benefits a romance. Seriously study his responses. As my Gilda-Gram says, “Relationships that are not open are not long-lived.” Hanging in there may only prolong your pain. —Dr. Gilda

Q: I have a friend I’ve become very close to. We became romantically involved a few months ago. It was as though we were a couple, but he never officially committed. Years back, his ex left him for his best friend, and married him. From that point on, he’s had serious trust issues, and claims that’s the reason he can’t commit. We had an argument, and did not speak until two weeks ago. When we saw each other again, it was as though nothing had happened. Then this past week, we had another disagreement, and he said, “My feelings for you are not reciprocated.” That is nonsense, but I pulled back. He’s now heard I’m dating someone else, and he’s extremely jealous, and interrogates my friends about the guy. I still have very strong feelings for him. He’s been there for me through some tough times, and has never let me down. I want a commitment from him that he’s not ready to give. What should I do? —Still Connected to My Ex

Dear Still Connected,

You’ve already answered your own question: “I want a commitment from him that he’s not ready to give.” Girl, stop whining for what the guy can’t give! An untrusting person sees the world through untrusting eyes. So whatever you do for commitment-phobe will likely be interpreted as enemy behavior, inciting more disagreements. Do you want to spend your life begging for more? Besides, it’s not fair to others you’re dating to be emotionally involved elsewhere.

This guy needs counseling—and not from you. Allow him the space to feel the urgency to get help from a professional. Meanwhile, find someone who’s commitment ready—unless your M.O. is to do interior design on a love mate. If that’s the case, you need counseling!

—Dr. Gilda

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Dr. Gilda Carle is the relationship expert to the stars. She is a professor emerita, has written 15 books, and her latest is “Don’t Bet on the Prince!”—Second Edition. She provides advice and coaching via Skype, email and phone.

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