You're probably giving him too much credit.
If you read here long enough, you will realize there is a certain type of male and female (personality type) who wish to keep emotional harems (sometimes physical, as well) of every person they've ever dated or been in a relationship with that they've dumped - they want to be thought of as The ONE that got away always and not feel like the bad guy cause they're all still friends - and for the ones that dumped them, they want that person who dumped them to really regret it and pine for them forever.
So while you think of him as a Big Love kind of guy torn between two women, he may just be a Big Ego kind of guy who enjoys thinking every woman he's ever touched can't get over him.
Food for thought.
My daughter (college age) is still being texted constantly by the boy who broke up with her two years ago. These type of guys just can't let go of being the No. 1 guy, even if they know it tortures the girl and keeps her from moving on. Other women, here, have endured the same thing with being called constantly despite getting dumped.
If your husband is addicted to the admiration or not, is something to figure out since that kind of thing can be problematic.