Bullying at work, in brief…
Beware the Mention of the Exes...
A client, Ellen, 39, [all personal details changed for anonymity] complained that her boyfriend of three months dropped her because she had a few too many exes. When everything else was going well in their young relationship she couldn't understand what his problem was.
Ellen had many questions plus theories of your own. She wondered if maybe he wanted an ‘easy life’ and feared she might be high maintenance because she'd gone through many relationships. Of course Ellen protested she wasn’t so and there were many different reasons why her relationships had failed.
She also wondered if he might’ve been a traditionalist and felt she'd slept with too many men, or could he even have felt threatened as a lover? Ellen became quite annoyed wondering just ‘how many’ exes would’ve been too many?
It's incredible how a statement about ‘having too many exes’ can throw up so many theories as we also discussed whether he thought Ellen might simply have "poor judgement" and this might impact on their relationship.
As we discussed such reasons Ellen became more philosophical. Though we didn't settle on one particular answer as to why her exes had troubled him she’d unburdened some of her anxieties.
I also suggested that because he hadn't wanted to go into his reasons for breaking up - bar her many exes - it reflected on his inability to express himself. And that this could be taken as a lesson that a few months into a relationship some people don't feel they have to explain their reasons.
The biggest lesson of all for Ellen was that with hindsight she felt ‘less was more’ when discussing exes in future. I suggested that being selective about mentioning past relationships when she met someone new was usually a good thing as you forged a new one. After all, in the early phases of a relationship it should be about the here-and-now and you and the new person -- and not all about the past.
An edited version of this was published in The Times
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