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When you met him, he already had an "ex." In fact, she was living with him still, in his house, financially bound to him.

You entered into this relationship with FULL KNOWLEDGE of his baggage.

You stated that this was troublesome for you early on -- and clearly it is STILL troublesome to you now.

It is a legitimate concern to have -- dating someone who still has close ties to his ex. But it is NOT legitimate to focus on this aspect and complain about it to the point where you are ready to end the relationship that you CHOSE for yourself.

Once again:

1) End the relationship.

2) Work on it WITH him.

3) Accept what you have chosen for yourself and DEAL with it.

He will ALWAYS have this baggage of his ex. Even if and when she buys the house from him -- even if they never see each other again -- there are memories, there are photos (as you have discovered) and there is the fact that cannot ever be changed that there was someone there BEFORE YOU.

It is OK if you can't deal with that. But you have to make a choice now. Either you DO learn to deal and start working on this relationship or you leave and find someone more suited to deliver your own personal needs.

YOU are half responsible for this relationship. Don't forget that.

That being said -- YES, this behavior on the part of his sisters and his friends and himself is not completely appropriate.

I agree -- it is possible that they are giving you the opportunity to get in a few digs of your own. Rather than take a defensive posture and tell them flat out: "I don't insult people I don't know," which sends a clear message that you feel morally superior to them, you need to simply keep quiet about the ex if others are making fun of her. Much sooner than later they will all get the hint that you aren't receptive to mocking and they will most likely not attempt to get you to join in.

You CAN say something POLITE about having a photo placed on the table near you. There is NO REASON for you to have sat there and stared at this. YOU ALLOWED IT. You were sitting there stewing and fuming and letting each glance at the photo make you more and more angry. Why did you do that? You need to learn some tact yourself, I think, as you suggest it would be nice if THEY had some tact as well. After five or ten minutes with that photo near you, it would be COMPLETELY appropriate to say: "Would someone care to move this someplace else?" There's a million ways you could have handled that. Me personally, I would have taken CONTROL of the situation. I would have picked up the photo, turned it upside down in my hand, stood up and placed it somewhere else, saying: "This is kind of making me uncomfortable, I'm just going to move it over here if you don't mind." SMILING all the while. When you do it like that -- no one will ever take offense. In fact, it's almost a sure bet that you'd get an apology of some sort. If you did, you would politely and sweetly accept the apology AND dismiss it as unnecessary at the same time: "Thanks, it's OK. I just thought we'd talk about happier subjects."

Without a doubt this needs to be discussed with your boyfriend. You're correct: he should be expected to put a stop to this when it reaches a point of becoming obnoxious. But if he isn't sure just HOW MUCH this bugs you, he may think nothing of it. Lots of folks are very different, you have to understand you are entering into a new family dynamic here, having just met these people. Likewise with his friends. Just because YOU and YOUR FAMILY would do things differently doesn't mean that the actions his family and friends are taking are MEANT to purposely offend you or be rude in any way.

Look... some folks are just crude and thoughtless. If this is the vibe you are getting... well, you SELECTED this man and his baggage includes his friends, his family and his ex.

If you believe your boyfriend will be responsive to the suggestion that he take some action here, then you need to DISCUSS it with him.

Be honest -- but do NOT be accusatory. He may not realize that he or his family and friends are doing anything wrong at all. Say: "I'm really crazy about you and I know that when we got together you had issues with your ex. I am aware that there will be times when these topics will come up between your family and friends, especially since this is an on-going subject, what with her still living in the house you used to share. I know I will have to learn to deal with that from time to time, but I would also greatly appreciate it if you would do what you can to limit these discussions when I'm around. I would like to get to know your family and friends and have them learn about me much more than I would want to listen in on conversations about the past. It would make me feel more secure having you on my side."

That's very reasonable.

If he takes offense at that polite statement of fact -- do consider if this is the man for you.

He may be more willing to help than you think.

DO NOT EVER expect someone to read your mind or gauge your emotions just by your reactions. Some folks aren't as attuned to that as others. Some folks are oblivious. And some folks... well, some folks just don't CARE one way or the other.

You need to SAY something to him -- again, politely and with as much respect TO him as you want to get FROM him -- and see how he reacts. This will tell you probably as much as you need to know whether this relationship is the way you want to go.

But by all means -- do not expect him to run to everyone he knows and tell them that they can no longer mention his ex -- these other people are not going to live by YOUR rules and he is almost certainly not going to want to be put in a situation where he has to tell others how they must act and what topics of conversation they can and cannot have in your presence.

He SHOULD be expected to learn how to moderate these discussions when they do happen. You also should learn how to do the very same thing.

You cannot depend on ANYONE to ALWAYS protect you from things which you find troublesome. You MUST learn to do this yourself. But it IS OK to have some help in these kinds of situations. Yes, he SHOULD be on your side, so to speak. But NO, he should not be expected to stifle the thoughts and opinions of others.

Good luck.

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