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Ask Luci – 6/10

Hey everyone! I’m back after a brief Ask Luci hiatus!  We have two questions today and both are about relationships, so let me know in the comments if you have anything to add!

So last year my marriage broke up; we’d been drifting for a time and my ex had largely ignored me and hurt my feelings. So I tried online dating because, quite frankly, I wanted to remind myself that there were other men out there, and so that my ex wasn’t the last person I’d slept with. Creating a breaker, you know? So I’ve been seeing this guy, and I like him quite a lot. And he likes me LOTS. And the sex is GREAT. Like super-awesome best ever. But this guy is also kind of a loser. And so I’m torn. I’ve been pretty open about my intentions and that I was coming off a relationship, and taking things one day at a time. But I also am pretty sure he likes me more than I like him. I guess I’m asking: have I been honest enough? When do I break it off? How? What do I DO?

Oh gosh.  Well, to start it probably doesn’t hurt to reiterate your intentions ASAP.  Just, you know, to be sure.  I think a lot of times in the situation where one person is more in like than the other, the more enamored person is just always holding out hope that the situation will change.  At the very least, if you let this guy know that the situation is not likely to change, at least he can be aware.  If he still wants to continue on, then he can do it. But you’ve been honest.  So another clear reminder would be good.  As far as breaking it off — I think that as long as everyone is enjoying themselves is fine with where things are, there’s no need to break it off.  However, if your guilt over feeling like this guy is way more into you is so much that you can’t enjoy yourself anymore, then it’s probably time to end things.  Additionally, if you have another Talk and he just seems super devastated, you may want to suggest dialing it back.  I mean, ultimately you’ve accomplished your goal.  You’ve had the rebound, you enjoyed yourself, reminded yourself of the other sexy fish in the sea.  Only you can judge your situation to determine if you’ll be hurting this guy too much if you keep going.  At which point you can catch and release and find someone with whom you’re more compatible.

Hi Luci,

I dated and lived together with a guy for about six-seven months. I went away for two months and while I was off, he went off of lithium, and also off the deep end, and we ended up breaking up because I felt unable to deal with it.

As background, I’m pretty sure he’s in denial about having bipolar disorder (I’m not a mental professional, but he has been diagnosed — he said it’s not true but I’ve seen him go through depression and what seemed like hypomania and mania in quick succession) and he also has PTSD from growing up in various abusive situations (as do I).

While we were together, he had what we called The Crisis — he went to the ER and afterwards he kind of lost it — he tried to get into my room when I didn’t want him to, by force and also by yelling at me through the door that I must want him to kill himself and if I didn’t let him sleep on my floor he would sleep outside (he did), and the whole situation was just horrible and made me feel really unsafe around him. In the months following that, I tried to establish new boundaries in our relationship and pretty much stopped having sex with him, and he didn’t deal well with it — he acted really resentful, though he kept apologizing and saying he wants to be respectful. I took care of him a lot and I started feeling like I was going insane because every time I had a hard time it got turned into being about him and since that meant he was having a Crisis I would feel guilty for being annoyed. I also didn’t feel like I had much of a choice as far as letting him deal with it on his own because if I tried, it would become very difficult living in the same apartment as him and I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Then I went on a two month trip, during which my phone stopped working, and he took that very personally. He blamed my absence for his cat’s non-well-being and his own. When I got back, he started sending me messages formatted like telegrams saying that all I did was hurt him, and when I  went over to get my stuff, we broke up — the worst break up I’ve ever had, actually, because the whole time he was saying things like, “When did you stop loving me and start hating me?” and something about how I was a faraway mirror and I don’t even know, and shortly afterwards he was arrested for assaulting his roommates.

He has recently gotten out and keeps trying to contact me, partially just to talk but also about things like mail I’m still getting at his place and other such things. I’m really angry about how unfair he has been to me and the thought of talking to him makes me feel sick and panicky, but on the other hand everyone in our mutual friend circle wants to support him and I know he’s really a decent person and it’s not easy on him having all these problems come up with his mental health — it’s not like he asked to be manic and end up in jail and all that. And I probably should take care of the mail thing. But on the third hand, or a first foot, whichever, I’m afraid that if I talk to him I’ll get pulled back into the cycle of feeling guilty and all my problems being turned into his emotional crises. And did I mention I feel panicky? Especially because he keeps contacting me again and again and saying things that aren’t very connected to reality in a hurtful sort of way. I guess my question is, would you say I should contact him, and if yes, do you have any advice on how to do it? Also, do you think it’s shitty of me to not particularly want to be supportive of him?

Wow that is a tough, complicated situation and I have a lot of sympathy for the emotional turmoil you’ve been through.  The fact that when he is contacting you now under the guise of “just wanting to talk and sort things out” but he is relentless and still sounding like he’s not connected to reality (they call that impaired reality testing in therapy) makes me concerned.  Since he has a history of violence and manipulation, I think you’re doing the right thing by choosing to stay away from him.  He’s not at a place where is a safe person for you to be around.  It’s also not wrong that you don’t really want to be supportive of him.  You’re under no obligation to take care of him or help him, especially since it sounds like it’s really triggering your own PTSD.  Ultimately you have to take care of yourself first and make sure that you’re keeping yourself mentally healthy.  Even though your friends all want to be supportive… they can go ahead and do that themselves, but you don’t have to follow suit.  Maybe your mutual friends can help encourage him to get the treatment he needs, but that’s not your responsibility and you don’t have to feel bad that you don’t want to do it.

I mean, as far as mail, you can just call your bank and have them resend old statements and stuff.  It’s probably not worth it to get back involved in this guy’s life.

That’s it for this week’s Ask Luci.  Have questions? Need advice? You can ask anonymously at my tumblr here or send an email to lucifurious at persephonemagazine.com and I’ll keep your identity sooper sekrit.  See you next week!

By Luci Furious

There are no bad times, only good stories.

6 replies on “Ask Luci – 6/10”

In both cases, though more so the second than the first, i’d suggest the questioners read up on Borderline Personality Disorder. I know, i really do, that there’s a lot attached to those three words, but there’s something raising red flags in both cases, though i will say right now that those are hunches and not absolutes. But that information, if the questioners believed it applied, is to help understand, not to pull back in.

Luci hit the nail on the head with #1: casual (or fairly-casual) sex is pretty much a myth because generally one person is hoping that sex can lead to something more and the other person is taking advantage of that by acting like there are no feelings involved. Sounds like the shelf life on that relationship is fast approaching.

#2 touches on something that I often have trouble articulating amid conversations about mental illness and stigmas and all that. Are we closed-minded or bad people if we just don’t want to deal with someone else’s life problems? How obligated are we to give up our own free time and comfort for the sake of others? Are these thoughts already ableist? Very hard to say, especially if, like the girl in the scenario, you’re already living with these issues at home and are therefore reluctant to manage them in your social life as well.

I think your thoughts on #2 are a really personal thing and I don’t think there is one concrete answer. In my personal experience, friends have drawn the line at their own mental health and physical safety–when that person refused to get help and became a danger to others, those I have known decided to step away. They made their reasons clear to that person, and explained that when the person sought professional help they would be there for them. But until then it was no longer possible.
I think it is difficult to blame the friends in these situations… at some point, some people need more help than non-professionals can give.

On #2, i think one of the important things to remember, is that we’re not responsible for the other person and neither are we their psychiatrist or therapist. We can support them and we can be their carers, but ultimately, we’re not responsible for another person’s actions and behaviours.

Hi Second Questioner. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all of this. But the good news is that it can be over now, if you choose to do so. You kept mentioning how panicky he makes you feel, how uncomfortable, how on edge. That is all you need to know in trying to decide what to do about him: cut him off, like Slay Belle says. I’ve done this twice in my life with people I needed to get away from. Eventually, if you never, ever respond to any effort on their part, they will go away. Steel yourself for plenty of harassment–sometimes harsh, othertimes pleading. Delete voicemails and emails without reading them, if you can. You need to ignore it all. And it will end, I promise.
Because you don’t owe him anything. Nor do you owe your friends an explanation for why you no longer want to be around him. They can keep in contact with him if they choose. This is about you taking care of yourself. You did so much, and you did your best, but the situation is no longer healthy or safe for you, and you need to get out and stay out.

Also, you can change your address by going to the post office and filling out a simple card. At least you could in the olden days; you could probably do that even online, now. Hang in there and good luck!

In regards to the second writer, I really feel for her/him. Situations like this, where one party really desires to severe their relationship with another person, I can’t help but think of Gavin de Becker’s Gift of Fear. He says that women try to be ‘nice’ and ‘let people down easy’, but unfortunately it ends up backfiring on us. If you want to get someone out of your life, you need to completely cease all contact with them. No returning of phone calls, no going to get mail, no being nice. Nothing. Any contact with the other party just tells them that it takes X amount of harassment before you respond, so they will harass you X amount of times until you tell them to stop again. And then the other party has gotten what it wants — your attention.

In the writer’s place, I would suggest explaining to her friends that for her own reasons, she can’t be involved with the ex at all, and that she hopes they understand and respect her desires not to be included in events with him or social situations.

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