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I'm Jealous of My Boyfriend's Dead Ex 

Dear Athena,

My boyfriend's ex-boyfriend died almost five months ago, and he is so depressed about it. I feel weird about this, but I'm jealous of this dead person. It's not just that my boyfriend is sad sometimes — it's, like, all the time, and it seems like the most important thing to him right now. I feel bad that he lost someone he really cared about, but I want him to get over it soon and come back to me. It's getting in the way of everything, even our sex life. How do I help him, but also get him back to me?

Please help,

Jealous of a Dead Ex

Dear Jealous,

Death is tricky. The loss of someone special can rock us to the core. Grief can force us to question life and love. It's personal and painful. It's disorienting and sad. Have you ever lost someone close to you? Everyone manages grief in his or her own way. It can take weeks or even years to come to terms with the trauma of loss. You never get over it, but you do get used to it.

Is your boyfriend able to work? Sleep? Eat? If not, no matter how it's affecting you, the poor guy needs some help. Forget who he lost for a moment. He needs support getting back to his old routine. It's one thing to be depressed for a while and eat cereal for dinner for a month and miss a bit of work. But if he continues to struggle on a deeper level, encourage him to see a doctor or therapist. Seeking counsel is a healthy and proactive way of getting through such a tough transition.

As for your jealousy, I sort of get it. Someone is taking your man's attention away from you. He just happens to be deceased. Even though it sounds selfish, it makes sense. But I urge you to dig a little deeper for some sympathy. Your guy apparently had a traumatic shock and needs your understanding.

What have you done to distract him, woo him, make him laugh and comfort him? If you put your needs in the backseat for a while and put more effort into meeting his, he might be more affectionate and attentive to you. Even if you haven't felt the loss of a loved one, think about how you like to be taken care of when you're really down. Sex may help him feel better, too, but you can't pressure him — it'll only make it harder for you to win him over.

Or maybe you're laying it on too thick, trying too hard. You can't fix him or change what happened. This is something he has to work through in his own way and time. He might even need a little space. It sounds like your expectations of him need a little readjustment.

Bottom line: Your boyfriend may never fully recover from his loss. You may have to get used to this new version of him. And the change may not be something you want to live with. Time will tell. It's a sad truth, but monumental events reveal new layers of who we are. I hope you can find each other on the other side of this.

Yours,

Athena

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