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Who is Alex and what is this? This is an advice column where I, Alex, answer your questions about dating and about life. Got a question you want to see featured? Submit it in the comments below!

Man traveling for work on train
“I just started seeing this girl and I think I really like her. There’s just one problem…She works with her ex. She says that it’s totally over between them but I still get jealous about it. What should I do?”

It seems to be a common attitude among young people that ex’s are to be regarded as vile, terrible beings that one should avoid at all cost. Ex’s are also a common source of jealousy among partners. I think we—and by extension you—should rethink these attitudes.

First of all, someone being on good terms with an ex is a good thing. It means that when the relationship ended, they didn’t drive their ex’s car into a river or kidnap their dog. It means that both parties are mature, level-headed people. And they’re mature, level-headed people who know that a relationship between the two of them will not work out. It’s not always cut and dry, though, and I realize that.

Maybe this girl’s ex isn’t over her. Maybe they send her long messages about how they miss her and still love her and all of that. If this is the case, it’s important to look at how she reacts. She can’t control what this person does, but she can control what she does. If she ignores them, tells them that they need to stop if they want to continue their working relationship, if she threatens them with consequences for the continued behavior, then you need to work on your jealousy, because it’s unfounded and unnecessary. But if she responds to them and continues to give them the attention they’re looking for, if she puts their feelings before yours, then you need to stop seeing this girl because she’s not emotionally available yet. 

“My boyfriend is job hunting in a very competitive field, and he lost a job to another candidate. How do I help him stay positive through the process?”

Unemployment can be a very difficult thing for a person to go through.  This can often be made worse by extensive interview processes that are common in certain fields. Undergoing two, three, or sometimes more interviews for a position only to have it offered to someone else can make even the most optimistic among us into a cynic. So what can you, the partner, do?

Remind the person in your life that they are contributing something of value. Whether that be to your mental and emotional health or more utilitarian things, like household chores. Be encouraging to their endeavors without micromanaging or trying to steer them toward something. Be optimistic for the opportunities that arise without adding too much extra pressure. And finally do your best to make sure that you make them give themselves the occasional day off from stressing about it.

“I work a job that has me traveling a lot. My girlfriend has been getting more and more upset about the frequency of these trips. It’s gotten to the point where I’m dreading the trips because of her reaction to them.  What should I do?”

Your partner is trying to control you. This is the bottomline regardless of their motivations and it’s definitely a red flag. Your partner’s motivations behind this manipulative behavior should determine your response. If your partner is convinced that you’re going to be unfaithful on these trips or is jealous of you committing your time and attention to people who aren’t them, then you need to end this relationship immediately and without hesitation. This type of behavior generally only gets worse over time.

It’s possible, however, that your partner is more upset by the uncertain future that your work might be creating in their head. If you don’t already live together, maybe they’re wondering how that’d look with your job. Will they need to take care of all of the housework while you’re out of town on these trips? How might a more serious relationship with parental obligations factor into your work life? If you can have a discussion about these things and come to an agreement about what an acceptable future might look like for both of you, you might find that this behavior subsides.  Or you might find that your visions of a perfect relationship are at odds and if that’s the case, it’ll be time to part ways.

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This article was originally published by GREY Journal.