Q: Hi Meredith,
I'm hoping for a little insight and guidance from you and the LL Community. I am a woman in my late 20s and went through a rather confusing and sudden breakup with my ex-boyfriend about six months ago. This was my first experience in a serious, head-over-heels in love relationship. We had been together for almost four years and I moved to Boston to be with him and envisioned a life with him. Sadly, his father passed away suddenly and my ex fell into a severe depressive episode. Soon after it became apparent that this was more than grief over his late father, I discovered he was emotionally involved with someone he worked with. Our relationship crumbled very quickly after I confronted him about behavior I found to be unacceptable. He broke up with me and moved on with this new girl. I was left picking up the pieces.
He was diagnosed with clinical depression, is on medication, and going through therapy. How do I know? Because he is reaching out to me again and whispering sweet nothings in my ear (via text message, of course; we are in our 20s). The kicker is that he is still seeing the girl that he left me for. It feels nice and comfortable to be in touch again, but it is also really painful. My gut says I need to move on and kick him and his bad behavior to the curb, but there is also a part of me that still loves him and wants to be there for him despite everything. I really sympathize with how difficult things have been for him, losing a father and struggling with mental health issues. I guess my questions involve are: Do you overlook the bad behavior for someone you love based on extenuating circumstances? Or should I just cut my losses and move on? I trust you'll give me some tough love on this and help a heartbroken girl work through the murky breakup waters.
– Stay or Go, Burlington
A: Your gut is right. You have to cut ties -- mainly because you're texting somebody else's boyfriend.
I understand that you still love him (it was a four-year relationship, after all), and I do have some empathy for the guy. I know that losing a loved one can make you feel weirdly entitled. (I've made a few questionable decisions since my mom died. Some involving texts to exes ... and cake.) But ... you're never entitled to abuse the people who love you. And if he's going to be with this new woman, he can't depend on you.
It'll help if you allow yourself to get angry. I know that it's difficult to see him as a bad guy when he's been through so much, but he messed with your head and ditched you after four years of a loving relationship. Be ticked off -- especially when he sends misleading texts. How could he treat you this way? What does he expect from you? How would this new girl feel about the texts?
His depression and loss shouldn't stop you from putting yourself first. You know what you have to do. Communication just isn't on the table if he wants to be with someone else. Stay strong.
Readers? Should she take him back if that's what he eventually wants? What about the loss and depression? Can the relationship be saved? Help.
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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.