Q: My boyfriend and I have been on and off for five years out of the 10 we were "together." I have a 13-year-old son from a previous relationship. My now-ex is famous for packing his stuff and taking off to his parents' house, on a monthly basis. Recently, things were going great. He had found a stable job working with men who have families as well, though he doesn't befriend men his own age, but rather the only co-worker that is 20 years old (my ex is 35). I think that speaks volumes of where my ex's head is at. I asked him why he was hanging around someone 15 years his junior and he got angry. The next day he left with a lame excuse for breaking up.
I am tired of "chasing" him, but he has been a part of my life and my son's life for several years, and I do love him. I decided I can't do this any longer. I finally let go last night and I haven't called or texted him lately like I usually do when he splits. Last night and this morning he texted me asking if I am okay and how I am holding up. He also called but I missed the call. He left a message saying I called him and he was calling me back. However, I didn't call him. I texted him telling him I didn't call him and he didn't respond. What is that about? Why isn't he answering me? It is hard to try to move on when he does things like this. — Ashley, 31
Dr. Susan: Your boyfriend really got you hooked on the drama of his comings and goings. A monthly break-up to return to his parents? That's hardly the way an adult acts. The fact that he hung out with a much younger guy might be part of the same issue, but it's not your job to figure out his friendships. What's important for you is to stick to your decision to let go. No more texting or phoning, and no more wondering why he does one thing or another. I know you and your son are used to him by now, but he's not making any effort to change or grow up and learn to work things out without running away. That's a really poor model of manhood for your son. I suggest you get as busy as possible and stop worrying about why he isn't responding to your responses to his texts. You're making yourself crazy. If he wants to come back, insist on some couples therapy first.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.