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Some recent questions:
I was in a relationship for 5 years. (A gay couple.) My ex constantly flirted with his previous boyfriends or other guys online while we were together.
Two years ago he left me and moved in with a guy he just met. Well that lasted two weeks and then he wanted me back. When he came back he got into counseling and I thought things were going well. I was wrong. He cheated again. So I ended the relationship for good.
It has taken a lot of work to get over my ex. Finally, I started talking to someone new. At the beginning of December my ex tried to say negative things about me to this new guy. Then he tried to repair his broken relationship with my best friend. (I think it’s really unfair of my ex to contact my best friend.) He’s made sure that I don’t talk to many mutual friends anymore which I’m okay with because it tells me they weren’t true friends.
The bottom line is, my ex just won’t go away. Not a week goes by that he doesn’t do something to try and tear me down. What I don’t understand is why would he do this? He’s dating someone else. And I’ve been working hard on myself to heal and grow from this because it was a really, really bad relationship.
He’s told everyone he doesn’t want me, but he still contacts me and tries to get all dramatic. So why won’t he go away? Why won’t he stop doing these things and just leave me alone?
Thanks for your question.
It takes strength to break up with someone you still love. Good for you—for recognizing how unhealthy your relationship was, and extracting yourself. But as you know, the breakup is only the first step to actually moving on. Often people get back together—as in your case, sometimes more than once—only to finally break it off permanently. Once the actual physical connection is no longer there it still takes time to separate emotionally.
And that’s where you are. Both of you. You are still allowing him to exhibit control over you and he still feels remorseful for messing up a good thing. Because rest assured, he is remorseful, and wishes he acted differently when the two of you were together. Otherwise he wouldn’t be spending so much time trying to make life difficult for you now. He sees that you’ve moved on. He sees you’ve gotten stronger and more confident and that bothers him. He wants you to feel as miserable as he does inside. So when he sees you happy, he’s going to do anything he can to try and take that from you.
You can’t control his actions and words, but you can control how you react to what he says, and how his actions affect you. This starts with you having very clear boundaries. (Maybe you’ve done this, but it should happen again.) Please ask him nicely to stop speaking badly about you to other people. And then ask him to stop contacting you. Once you’ve done this you must also follow through. Stop answering his calls. Don’t get sucked into the drama—long drawn out conversations and arguments. Stop giving him any sort of audience and after a while this will hopefully stop.
We understand that part of the problem is the two of you travel in many of the same circles. You have mutual friends, you go to similar hang outs, and you probably live near each other. So unless you plan on moving and starting a new life somewhere else, you’re going to have to deal with him in your life to some extent. So you must be consistent, strong, and clear. And lean on your true friends for support. Don’t be shy about this. It’s okay to ask for help.
Nate, if you can understand that he’s actually hurting, and try to see him as someone who doesn’t know how to deal with his inner turmoil, it might help you separate from him. We’re not saying accept his negative actions. No one should ever accept being bullied. And we’re not saying it’s your job to help him. It’s not. But if you realize that he is in a holding pattern—right where he was when you broke up with him—and that you’ve grown so much since then, you’ll realize that you do in fact have the control here. You’re the stronger person; you’re the person who’s put in the hard work to grow; so you need to rise above this. Hopefully one day he’ll start working on what he needs to work on. But that’s his journey, not yours.
Focus on what you can control: your happiness. The rest is all static, meant to distract you from your goal.
And finally, if this gets too bad, and he won’t leave you alone, then you might need to seek help beyond your friends. (Something to consider down the road.) Hopefully it won’t ever get to that point.
Good luck and happy holidays.
ps. Let your friends know about us. Thanks!