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She keeps going back to her ex

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  May 8, 2013 08:16 AM

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No chat today. But we will make up for it next week with extra-special chat (and this long letter ... which was a lot longer before an edit).


Q: I have been dating Lauren for almost three months now. She is 26 and I am about to turn 28. She actually feels like I am her partner and that she has finally found someone that she can be herself with. I feel the same way about her and I'm very happy.

About three weeks ago she decided to update her relationship status on Facebook. She told me she wanted everyone to know about us and I was crazy excited. Her ex-boyfriend (Chris) also saw that she updated her status. They also ran into each other on the street very briefly that day and he immediately started texting her about how she hurt him and how she should have told him about this new relationship instead of finding out on Facebook. I thought this was strange considering he broke up with her eight months ago and they only dated for about five months. I also found it incredibly immature for someone to yell at a person about their Facebook status. She was very upset because she felt like she hurt him.

I have never met this guy but she has told me stories. I know that she called off a wedding to be with this guy and they had a great few months and then it fizzled. She tried to fix it and he didn't care so they broke up. This guy never made her a priority in his life. He'd plan trips with her only to cancel them and invite his friends instead. He would withhold sex when he wasn't getting his way and would come home drunk. After they broke up, Lauren still had feelings for him. She confessed it to him and he would come back for sex when he wanted it or use her as an emotional crutch when he was lonely. She started to pull away from him a few times and every time she did that, he would give her a bit of a promise of commitment to get her to come back, but nothing ever came from it. She saw a therapist for a few months because of this guy. When we started dating she told me she was a bit concerned because in the last two months she was finally happy again and was happy being single and that she was afraid of having another man break her heart.

Anyway, he kept texting her, saying that he was devastated and needed to see her, and she acquiesced to a meeting. I told Lauren that I wasn't comfortable with this because if five minutes of texting left her sad and crying for 12 hours, I was scared of what a meeting would do to her mental health. I am not the type of person to forbid a girlfriend from seeing an ex. It isn't right and I am still friends with many of the women I have been involved with.

They met for a couple hours and she came back to my place confused. Apparently he cried and apologized for what he did wrong saying he was in a bad place during their relationship and he wanted her back because he had changed and promised to do things differently. We stayed up late talking about what had happened and our relationship. I pointed out that this guy treated her terribly for so long and that I have only treated her well. The next morning we woke up and she said I'm the only one she wants to be with. She texted him asking him not to contact her.

Three days later he was back contacting her. And Lauren was again confused and asked for space from both of us since she didn't know what to do. She said that she they had an intense history and she felt the pull of the past. I told her that I am the one who can give her a great future. We didn't see each other for over a week but then she said she really missed me and wanted to see me. I went over to her place and she told me that she met with Chris and told him that she didn't want to be with him. She said that over the past week she missed our relationship and realized that my love was the kind of love that she wanted.

We had a great four days and I felt like things with us were finally returning to normal. However, Chris runs into her on the street and again accosts her for being so hurt and upset by what has happened and needs to meet with her. Two days later, he is texting her again. Lauren confessed to me that this situation made her depressed and that having to push someone away that you care about is hard, but she kept saying she is very happy with me and she needs time to work through this. I was willing to work through this with her, but now she wants space.

I don't know what to do. Our relationship was great before this man came back into her life. I also feel like he is an emotionally abusive person and is just harassing her. If she is able to shake him from her life and see this man for the creep he is, we can go back to what we had before. I am trying to get her to see a therapist but she won't go. I also finally told her that this man is abusive and has no respect for her decisions or her space. She just accuses me of attacking him and mischaracterizing his behavior. She also tells me that she doesn't deserve my love and I noticed that she has started to blame herself for everything. She blames herself for the failed relationship with Chris and blames herself for him always coming back into her life. I love this woman and I don't want to give up and walk away. I know you are going to say that she’s let me down twice, but I understand how hard this must be for her and I don't just want to walk away.
.

– Let Down, Massachusetts


A: This is hard for her. I get it. But you're the one writing me the letter, so I'm worried about you. If she wants space, you have to give it to her. You're allowed to make a last speech (or send an email), just for your sanity, but keep it simple. Tell her that you care about her and that your goal is to have a great, supportive relationship. Please make it clear that you can't be in a relationship with someone who needs space every time she runs into an ex. You've hit a wall, but before you leave her behind, you want to make your intentions known.

But please know this: She might really need space, with or without this guy in her life. If she were in therapy, she might discover that she hasn't forgiven herself for calling off a wedding. She might discover that she's hooked on Chris because she bailed on a serious commitment to be with him. She might figure out that she never gave herself time to heal from her losses and that she just needs to be alone.

You're in the market for a healthy, easy relationship. I understand that you're into this woman, but if she can't make decisions and stick to them, she's just not for you. It's only been three months. The relationship should be fun right now. Instead, it's a mess. It's not your job to save her. Save yourself.

Readers? Any reason to stick around? Should he send a note stating his intentions? Should he just run right now? How does she keep running into Chris? Help.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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