Q: Dear Meredith,
I am in a serious long-distance relationship that has been going great. My boyfriend lives out of state -- where he has to stay for a year because of work -- and I live in the Boston area. We see each other every two weeks and so far everything is perfect ... except one thing. He has a stage five clinger ex-girlfriend.
He dated this ex-girlfriend for a few years more than five years ago. She moved out of state and they have been "pen pals" for some time now. When we were planning his recent move, she got very inquisitive about the details. It made me uncomfortable so I suggested that he tell her about us. He sent her a nice email saying he had met someone and that it was pretty serious. She went bonkers. Emailing, calling, texting, the works. She claimed she just wanted to make sure he was happy and even asked to see a picture of the two of us. Long story short, it all came to a head this summer. She was calling and texting nonstop even though he asked her to stop, and she and I got into it.
While it wasn't my place to get involved, he was very uncomfortable with how strong she came on and he isn't confrontational. I asked her nicely to give us some space and she was very angry and told me it wasn't over between them. He cut off all communication with her but she still emails. I am worried that her threats about coming to claim him are going to come to fruition. I would not have minded they remained friends, in fact -- one of my best friends is my first love. But she is clearly still in love with my boyfriend. My boyfriend thinks we should continue to ignore her but I'm afraid she is losing it. Her emails sound more and more desperate and I am getting nervous. She doesn't threaten bodily harm, just goes on and an on about the past and that he owes her an explanation. She sounds a little crazy to be honest. Please send me some advice.
– You Can't Cure Crazy, Boston
A: You must stay out of this, YCCC. Don't address her again. Not directly. That's your boyfriend's job.
The ex says that she wants an explanation? Your boyfriend should send one. He can say something simple like, "My relationship with you has ended, and I'm happy in my new one. I don't have room in my life for the friendship we once had. I'll be putting a block on your email address, so I won't be receiving your messages. I wish you all the best."
Like you said, she's not threatening bodily harm. She just needs some solid answers and a definite boundary. Your boyfriend hasn't done a great job of communicating with her, but it's time for him to be the bad guy.
My advice is to help him craft the note. Then drop the whole issue. Her name shouldn't come up. With emails blocked, she shouldn't be on his mind.
And please, tell your boyfriend that he has to be honest with people even if it's uncomfortable. You shouldn't have had to suggest to him that he tell his ex-girlfriend that you exist. Why hadn't he already told her? He shouldn't have let you anywhere near the phone when she was calling. Why didn't he take charge? You can't be in a relationship with someone so passive, because, well, how will you know if there's ever a problem between the two of you if he's afraid to cause trouble?
Talk to him. See if he'll block her email address. See if he can commit to being honest with you when he needs to be, even if it means hurting your feelings. That's the real issue here.
Readers? Is the ex crazy or did the boyfriend mess up with communication? How can you stop someone from emailing without engaging them? Is there a problem with the boyfriend, in general? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.