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Hate Ex-Boyfriend

Question:

I hate my ex-boyfriend, but I can’t make myself tell him not to contact me again. Do you have any advice? Our relationship, which was exclusive and serious, lasted about a year and a half. Things started out well, but along the way become very unhappy. He had what I thought was an inappropriately close relationship with his ex-girlfriend. I thought he spent too much time with her, that they did inappropriate things (like go to weddings together and talking about our relationship problems.) I couldn’t accept this, but I couldn’t convince him to change his behavior. Nor did I leave the relationship, even when my own health suffered. We had terrible fights. He had a serious, chronic depression and refused to go into therapy. Eventually I too became depressed and entered therapy. When we broke up, he begged me not to cut off contact with him. Initially I agreed, but as we continued to sleep together and spend a lot of time together I eventually decided that I needed to cut off contact with him. I did so, and he tried to commit suicide. He was hospitalized for a few days, and entered therapy. During the hospitalization, he and I and his ex spent a great deal of very uncomfortable time together. He and I tried to work on our problems, but had more and more fights and eventually stopped speaking. Then, after 3 months he sent me a letter and some very personal gifts. I’ve spoken with him once or twice. The conversations go ok, but I am still furious and still hurt. I don’t want to talk to him, but I can’t seem to make myself tell him this. Why?

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Answer:

It is quite a mind-trap you are in right now, don’t you think? You are I think justifiably upset over how your ex-boyfriend has acted re: the ex-girlfriend and the not being responsible for his mental health. Most any reasonable person would be upset about these things. It also seems quite normal for you to want to separate from him after all this negative history you’ve described. You are ‘prevented’ from separating him (not literally, but by fear or guilt I would suppose) because you have seen him try to kill himself when you have done this in the past. Can you say “hostage”? Do I have this right? If you don’t want to talk with him, you are quite within your rights to not talk with him even if he decides that he can’t live without you and try’s to kill himself again. He is responsible for his own actions and if he will not get the help he needs and suicides this is not your responsibility. In an important way, you are your own captor here, and only you can release yourself. I think the situation needs to be handled delicately and with care, but I don’t see how you are obligated to maintain a dialogue (or more) with him if you really don’t want to. Maybe talk with your therapist and other people you respect and trust about how to go about breaking this off. Good luck.

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