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Dear Love FAQ -
I dated this girl off-and-on for a little over a year. I thought I was in love and wanted the relationship to work, but there were just too many issues I couldn't continue to ignore.
This girl was needy, to say the least. If I took more than three minutes to reply to a text message, she would get anxious; if she saw me talking to a female friend, she would remind them that I was "hers." A common topic of conversation was "I don't know what I'd do without you." And so on.
One day, I made the mistake of telling her that I would "do the right thing" in case of pregnancy. She then made it her goal to get herself pregnant, because, as she said to a mutual friend, "he could never leave me if I did." After the friend told me this - and noticing some pinholes in a used condom wrapper -- we had a nasty confrontation, and I broke up with her.
We kept in contact for a while, but some of the things she said to me were just disturbing, like "I crave and desire you", or "I touch myself at night thinking about you." (She thought it sounded poetic.) I ended up telling her I didn't think we should talk anymore, and I blocked her on MSN, Facebook, WoW, etc., and ignored the bombardment of phone calls I received afterwards.
That was several months ago. She still feels the need to visit my family, though, and she invites herself to family gatherings she knows I'm going to attend. She also creates alternate accounts to send me (and our mutual friend) love/hate messages ... The list goes on.
I just want her to be out of sight, out of mind. What are your thoughts?
-- Caught in a Bad Romance
Let me stop you at "pinholes in the condom."
Extreme jealousy. Controlling behavior. Online harassment. Showing up unannounced and uninvited. These are all classic abusive behaviors, the kind that have fueled many an after-school special and made-for-TV movie.
Don't underestimate just how toxic this relationship was simply because it doesn't match the stereotype of what abuse looks like. Not all injury is physical, and men are just as susceptible to harmful relationships as women. (Indeed, I think men may be more likely to let a bad situation persist longer, due to society's taboo against males admitting weakness or emotional vulnerability.)
You have a few things on your to-do list.
- Stick to your guns. You did the right thing in cutting off contact, so don't acknowledge any of her messages ever again - not even to remind her not to contact you. Because she will use the smallest, leanest recognition from you as a lever to pry open your life and reinsert herself in it.
Don't give in, even if she threatens you or your loved ones - or even herself - to get your attention. Should this happen, document it and call the cops, as well as a mental health professional. If need be, consider protective or restraining orders.
You don't play around with crazy, because crazy always wins.
- Next, If you haven't done it yet, change your locks, your email and your cellphone number. Reiterate to your friends and family that your ex is no longer allowed to "drop by" while you're visiting. Inform anybody who doesn't listen that you can't be around them until they do. Be firm, because clearly, they haven't gotten the message so far.
- Don't feel guilty or blame yourself for her behavior. And remember, it's not your job to stand by her while she gets the help she so desperately needs.
- Consider counseling. Try the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women at 1-888-7HELPLINE or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. (Your doctor is also a good resource for counseling services local to you.) Even if you don't think therapy's for you, you might be surprised at how much it helps to just talk to someone who understands.
Finally, in the future, try not to stick it in the crazy anymore.