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A woman asked Ellie for advice on dealing with a troublesome ex-boyfriend.
A woman asked Ellie for advice on dealing with a troublesome ex-boyfriend.

Q — 

I’m a single woman, early-40s who thought I’d met my perfect partner a year ago. We shared a few interests from the start. We also enjoyed an active social life.

That’s how I first noticed that he used drugs — not my choice — but I thought he could handle them, until he overdosed and I feared he’d die. It didn’t stop his using nor drinking to excess.

After some months, when we went out, he always had some reason he had to leave early, and I’d go to my home alone. I was starting to suspect something, so I checked his phone and found that he’d been meeting up with several different women, though he’d led me to believe that we were exclusive. I was devastated.

I ended the relationship, and it took me a while to get over him. Recently, he called to say that he’d lost his job just weeks after his father died suddenly. He says he’s miserable, misses me, and needs my support.

I lost love and respect for him when I discovered he’d cheated and deceived me for months. But I feel conflicted now about ignoring his plea for help. Do I owe him my support?

What’s Owed or Lost?

A —

Trust is lost, so is respect, and little is owed other than some compassion for his grief.

Don’t even consider renewing the relationship. His serious issues — addictions, lying, cheating — will drag you down, while he relies on you to rescue him. He needs to turn his life around himself — addiction counselling and rehab, a support group of recovered addicts, and therapy to understand why he lies and cheats, so he can learn other ways to deal with people.

That’s his challenge but not your responsibility. Tell him what serious supports he must find on his own, and wish him well.

Q —

You previously gave me sound advice so I’m writing to you again. I’m early 60s, still working enjoyably, divorced. My children are grown and gone.

I’m divorced and recently reconnected with a male friend (late-50s). This summer he sold his dad's home and moved him into an apartment and I think he was feeling tired and vulnerable. We once again started seeing one another but soon fell back into old patterns.

He comes over before or after work to cook a meal, watch some TV, and sleeps on the sofa. He refused to see an art exhibit with me, but I always go to events he likes. He’ll hug and hold hands, but no kissing and no sex — his rules.

I’m frustrated. I feel he controls this relationship. Since it’s been an on-off one, I had been on dating sites for the past two years and met some men. But, though genuinely trying to move on, I haven’t connected with anyone. Should I keep trying and hoping that I’ll meet someone, or tell this man that I want more from our relationship?

Or, should I be satisfied with crumbs from his table?


A —

You already knew your own response, from the moment you wrote crumbs.

Here are the obvious reasons for moving on:

1. He offers no concern or discussion about what you want or need in the relationship.

2. He stays distant from your interests.

3. His main contribution is a cooked meal, but little emotional warmth.

End it. Try other ways to meet men — e.g. pursuing your interest in art events, other group activities through in your area. Never settle for crumbs.


Regarding the fiancée worried that on her one-week tropical wedding her fiancé wants to conduct business and keep regular phone contact with his adult daughter: Reader — while your heart was in the right place, my advice would’ve sounded more like this:

To Tropical Bride, you'd probably be better off staying single rather than being chained to a man who believes money comes before personal gratification.

Also, Ellie, in terms of his daughter, maybe suggest that instead of the trip, they should have the big wedding she rejected, with all the costs that are associated with it. And she should allow the daughter to organize the whole thing from scratch. Bet you that he’d then leave his cell phone in his suitcase while on the beach!


— Yours is a gotcha response! Meanwhile, they both need to re-think how to be inclusive with adult children, while still having some privacy.

Ellie’s tip of the day

: A controlled friendship offered instead of a romantic relationship will always feel like crumbs.

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