Ask Dr Gilda-Enough about his ex already!

His constant chatter about his former girlfriend is driving his current squeeze to question what he really wants. Dr. Gilda weighs in on how to get him to stop dwelling on the past and focus on the present — before she leaves too.

By Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D.

ear Dr. Gilda,
I met a really nice guy online. But he has a lot of emotional baggage. I really want to give him a chance; I love talking to him, but don’t know how to tell him to stop bringing up his old flame. He was in the relationship for two and a half years. She helped him through a tough time after a hurricane, but she left so many times, even he lost count. He says she is crazy. I wonder what her real reason for leaving was.

I have been married and divorced twice. My first marriage lasted 10 years and my second only five. I try not to bring up my exes with my dates. I do have
You have an obligation to yourself to share YOUR feelings.
a daughter from my first marriage, so sometimes the topic of her father comes up in conversation.

How can I get him to understand that I cannot deal with hearing about his crazy ex? The constant reminders are driving me away.
—Driven to Distraction

Dear Driven,
Hey, distracted lady, is there something wrong with your vocal cords? If you like the guy you’re dating EXCEPT for his old-flame stories, TELL HIM. The poor dude may not realize his ex is hogging his life. Or he may still be reeling from the pain and feeling the need to talk about it. Or he may just enjoy playing the victim of someone who left him again and again and again. Whatever the reason for his ongoing tales, you have an obligation to yourself and to your interaction with him to share YOUR feelings. No bond can exist without honesty.

Now on to the REAL issues. If Nice Guy is conscious of what he’s saying, why would you want someone who’s still pining for his ex? Do you want to be a rebound relationship? It’s also not a good sign that your date describes his ex as “crazy.” Since he chose to remain with her, what does that make his ability to choose healthy partners? As my Gilda-Gram says, “We attract not who we want, but who we ARE.” Although he may have been needy after the hurricane, he continued to put up with being dumped by the same woman multiple times. If his ego is made of mush, is this someone you want to
He may recognize he’s still too hung up on his ex to be dating.
play with?

No dating person should knowingly take on someone with “a lot of emotional baggage.” I question why you would want to even bother seeing this dude. Are you feeling particularly lonely — enough so that you’d lower your standards that far? This guy might be wonderful in the future, but for now, you can’t make him ready for love when he’s not!

This is what I suggest you do:
  1. Gracefully tell your love interest how his one-note conversation is affecting you. Use my 3 + 1 + 1 Confrontation Technique: Offer three positives you like about him, share that one drawback you describe and end on a positive note with another compliment.

  2. Listen carefully to his feedback. He may recognize he’s still too hung up on his ex to be dating, he may quit his conversational monotone and/or he may decide to get some therapy to help him over the hump. You will have done him a favor by speaking up.

  3. Whatever he does or says now STILL does not make him an emotionally available date for you. Tell him, “I really like you. Please take some time to decide where you are and where you’d like to be. Then call me when you’re over your past.” So, you are leaving the door open for a time when he might be more ready. If and when he calls, if and when you’re available, anything can happen.
You can’t push someone into love. Either this guy is ready or he’s not. As you explore new dates, know that each one who’s not ready brings you that much closer to the one who is. And all you need is ONE!

Relationship expert Dr. Gilda Carle, Ph.D., gives Instant Advice throughout the world via Skype, email and phone. She is the 30-Second Therapist for Her best-selling books include Don’t Bet on the Prince!, 99 Prescriptions for Fidelity and How to Win When Your Mate Cheats. Please visit her website at (
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