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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SL Letter of the Day: The Ex Files

Posted by on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Originally posted on May 4, 2011.

I'm a 24-year-old mostly straight girl with a great GGG boyfriend. My problem is with an ex-boyfriend. We met when I was on a break from school. A few months after we got together, I went back to finish my degree in a different state. He was wary about a long- distance thing, but I wanted to try it, and I made promises about our future that I probably shouldn't have. Then the day after we broke up, one of my ex-boyfriends died. I was a total mess for months and completely incapable of dealing with the breakup, which was hard for the guy I'd just broken up with. We wound up ending things on a really bad note.

But it's still not over. He hasn't ever gotten over our relationship, and every few months he calls or e-mails with some new issue or wanting to talk. He's been verbally abusive, and I often want to cut off contact, but because of the death of my other ex-boyfriend, I'm really scared about losing contact with exes. He told me he almost killed himself a couple of years ago; I don't know if it's true, but I can believe it. He accused me of raping him—saying that he'd consented to sex with the understanding that we'd be together forever, and when we broke up, I violated the terms of the agreement under which he had consented to have sex with me. Now he's demanding that I admit to having raped him and threatening to post that I raped him on my Facebook wall.

I don't know what to do. I have no interest in getting back together, but I know I hurt him and I feel responsible. I'd do a lot of things differently in hindsight, but I don't think I'm a rapist. I know this sounds like a typical crazy-ex story, and I should probably just cut him off, but that feels wrong and I'm worried about him.

Freaked Out Feeling Stuck


My response after the jump...

Everyone you've ever dated—including the boy you're with now—is fated to die. (You, too, FOFS.) Which means that, as the years grind on, you will eventually lose contact with each and every one of your ex-boyfriends, should you be fortunate enough to outlive them all. You will also one day lose contact with your current boyfriend, if you stay together, or he will one day lose contact with you if you precede him in dropping dead. It might help you cope with the coming inevitable losses, FOFS, if you cut your crazy ex out of your life now, while he's still alive. Think of it as an exercise in letting go.

Stop taking his calls, stop returning his e-mails, and block him on Facebook. You can urge him—in one final e-mail—to move the fuck on already, to get help, and to get a grip. Tell him that you're both too young to waste the rest of your lives processing a failed relationship, and you can add, perhaps in a P.S., that consensual sex in the early stages of a relationship—the stage at which dreamy, ill-advised discussions about a shared future are most common—does not retroactively become rape should that relationship end.

Finally, FOFS, while your ex sounds nutty and vindictive, your reasons for staying in touch with him are slightly batshit. People lose contact with exes all the time. Get over it. If you've convinced yourself that hashing shit out with your manipulative ex is the compassionate, loving thing to do, you're wrong—it's not helping him and it's making you miserable. Or so you say. The longer you go on helping your ex pick at his scabs, the more you look like the kind of controlling, vindictive ex who doesn't really want her exes to get over her.

 

Comments (33) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
1
Tough love answer, Dan, but correct, except for not suggesting she get therapy also. If she is that neurotic about her exes she sure needs it.
Posted by BG on March 12, 2014 at 12:38 PM · Report this
Eudaemonic 2
Further evidence for why, after a breakup, you should cut off all contact with your ex for a length of time equal to half the duration of the relationship plus one month.
Posted by Eudaemonic on March 12, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 3
Then the day after we broke up, one of my ex-boyfriends died. I was a total mess for months and completely incapable of dealing with the breakup, which was hard for the guy I'd just broken up with.


It was after she broke up with him. What obligation did she have at that point to help him "deal" with it? Oh right. None.

And how nice of him not to be supportive of her when she lost someone she cared about.
Posted by keshmeshi on March 12, 2014 at 1:12 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 4
@3 - Well, it can't have been easy on him. After all, he had just had been was raped.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on March 12, 2014 at 1:28 PM · Report this
brandon 5
Ovarie up, cut him loose, and give yourself time to forget about him. He's in the past, leave him there.

There is a reason ex-lovers often don't keep in touch. It's easier for both parties.
Posted by brandon on March 12, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Report this
6
I remember this one. Oh, the drama! the drama! on all sides. How tiring. Does it make the sex better?
Posted by Bugnroolet on March 12, 2014 at 1:41 PM · Report this
nocutename 7
@6: It makes everything better.

@4:You made me spit water at my screen.
Posted by nocutename on March 12, 2014 at 2:39 PM · Report this
nocutename 8
He accused me of raping him—saying that he'd consented to sex with the understanding that we'd be together forever, and when we broke up, I violated the terms of the agreement under which he had consented to have sex with me.

Oh my god. I just realized that every single time I had sex with my now ex-husband over 22 years of marriage, he was raping me. Or maybe I was raping him. Especially during that last year or so when I knew in my heart I didn't want to be with him forever but we hadn't yet talked about splitting up.
What's the next step? Do I turn myself in to my local police department? How long is the statue of limitations on rape anyway? Maybe all my rapes of the first decade at least are no longer prosecutable.
Posted by nocutename on March 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM · Report this
9
I would disagree with one point: Dan suggests that she send him one last email or make one last call, presumably for closure. No matter what the content, no matter what words she uses, he will take that bit of contact as affirmation that she is listening to him, and interpret that to mean he should keep trying. LW, if you are listening, JUST STOP HAVING ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIM.

Oh--and if he has made any threats in writing (in email or facebook messages), whether those threats have to do with attempting suicide or publicly branding her as a rapist, the LW needs to turn those over to the police NOW.
Posted by Clayton on March 12, 2014 at 2:57 PM · Report this
nocutename 10
@9 (Clayton): Remember that this letter was first published in 2011.
Posted by nocutename on March 12, 2014 at 3:10 PM · Report this
11
"I have no interest in getting back together..."
You don't say!
Posted by chi_type on March 12, 2014 at 3:14 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 12
@9: Closure for her, entirely independent of his wishes
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 12, 2014 at 3:43 PM · Report this
13
This letter is a prime example of letters I hate to see republished. Without an update, a followup, it just begs the question, WTF happened?

Did the ex-BF kill himself? (Why not?) Did the LW cut him off? Is anyone happier today? Have they moved the fuck on?

Too many questions to just enjoy the letter republished as is.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on March 12, 2014 at 3:49 PM · Report this
14
"Then the day after we broke up, one of my ex-boyfriends died. I was a total mess for months and completely incapable of dealing with the breakup, which was hard for the guy I'd just broken up with."

I know she's young, but this just wants to make me slap her. And him. And whoever put in their minds that the person who is supposed to help you get over a breakup is the person who broke up with you.
Posted by agony on March 12, 2014 at 5:04 PM · Report this
15
There is one critical concept here: You can revoke consent for a sexual act anytime before, or even during, the act occurring. You cannot revoke consent after it happened.

"I thought you said you would marry me" isn't the same thing as "I took that drink you handed me and you had drugged it and raped me while I was passed out" or "You were polite all night during the date, but as soon as you got into my apartment you held me down and forced me to do it".
Posted by Thexalon on March 12, 2014 at 5:11 PM · Report this
16 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
17
On the off chance the LW is reading this I doubt the other ex's death was your fault. There's a good chance that being BFF's with him wouldn't have saved his life.

This guy is using your misplaced guilt and grief as weapon against you and that itself is enough reason to cut him off.
Posted by msanonymous on March 12, 2014 at 7:01 PM · Report this
venomlash 18
@16: Was the spell "ARISE CHICKUN" or "RAVIOLI RAVIOLI GIVE ME THE FORMUOLI"?
Posted by venomlash on March 12, 2014 at 7:08 PM · Report this
19
I'll just agree with Mr Savage and move on.
Posted by vennominon on March 12, 2014 at 8:32 PM · Report this
20
I remember when this letter was published the first time. Remember it well, in fact, because I was that great GGG current boyfriend from sentence # 1. The ex was, in fact, crazy. I didn't know him at all, but he contacted me on Facebook once offering some supposed Big Terrible Secret about the LW, which I politely declined.

For those keeping track at home, the LW broke up with me about a year and a half ago. Except that she was (predictably, in retrospect) afraid of losing me from her life. So she told me it was a "break," and that she might eventually want to get back together--though she couldn't tell me if or when, even in the vaguest, most probabilistic terms. And I let myself stay in that limbo way longer than I probably should have. We don't really talk anymore.

Sooooo, yeah. Cool story.
Posted by not the crazy ex on March 12, 2014 at 8:45 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 21
@20: I always wonder about those people who clutch onto all their exes for dear life. Glad you dropped off the list.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 12, 2014 at 9:49 PM · Report this
22
I admit I try to keep in contact with my exs even though I know that it's not the brightest idea. I just don't click with a lot of people at all, so eliminating some of the few that I actually like in more than vague terms seems like overkill. It has led to some awkward periods in my life though.
Posted by Really Now... on March 12, 2014 at 11:04 PM · Report this
Sandiai 23
@20, thanks for that perspective :-). I imagine the Big Secret was that she was a retrospective rapist.
Posted by Sandiai on March 12, 2014 at 11:41 PM · Report this
24
All kinds of awesome, Dan.

I especially liked the part where you told the letter writer to get over herself, and to look in the mirror to see if 'compassion' is her true motivation for stringing along her lunatic of an ex-boyfriend.
Posted by Functional Atheist on March 13, 2014 at 12:17 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 25
@22: I don't think anyone's saying you should be forced to not talk to any of your exes, just that you should hopefully be able to bond with persons you're not romantically intimate with. It's another valuable life-skill :p
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 13, 2014 at 7:34 AM · Report this
26
@14 (agony): "And [slap] whoever put in their minds that the person who is supposed to help you get over a breakup is the person who broke up with you."

I remember a few years ago Dan calling this phenomenon "stage 4 Lesbianism." This couple may have been straight, but they sure had that disease!

Posted by Drusilla on March 13, 2014 at 8:11 AM · Report this
27
Dan, thanks for the info about the possible perils of facials. You probably don't remember, but a few years ago my hockey-player then-FWB pal shot a huge load directly into my right eye -- not on purpose, it just happened during some happily athletic sex. My eye swelled up and turned bright red. Not knowing where to turn in our little Alaska town I emailed you and got some good info and practical advice back. The cute hockey player has moved on to other guys but the advice has stuck with me and I still appreciate it. Here's encouraging you to continue dispensing nuts-and-bolts (um, so to speak) STD advice in the column!
Posted by Jnu Guy on March 13, 2014 at 8:53 AM · Report this
AFinch 28
@12 - a letter like that can provide closure for the crazy ex too - not the outcome they want, but a bit of finality about where the thing ends, ie, she won't ever speak to you again, and continued attempts at contact are harassment. From the sounds of it though (@20), they were both a little crazy.
Posted by AFinch on March 13, 2014 at 9:15 AM · Report this
undead ayn rand 29
@28: "a letter like that can provide closure for the crazy ex too"

Maybe! But it's never good to expect anything like that. And yeah, sounds from both stories as if she's keeping these guys around for reasons that have nothing to do with protecting the guys' best interests.
Posted by undead ayn rand on March 13, 2014 at 5:36 PM · Report this
Kevin_BGFH 30
I don't mind it when Dan republishes a letter from long ago, even though I've been reading long enough, and consistently enough, to almost always remember the original. Part of the interest is seeing how today's readers respond.

BUT ... I think it would be awesome every time he does that to have a follow-up with the original writer. I always read the comments hoping the original writer chimes in. Most of the ones he gets these days are probably by email so it shouldn't be too hard (not like the old USPS days) to send and receive a follow-up response.

I bet either Dan or an intern already goes through to find likely candidates for reprinting. He could gather a whole bunch (or have an intern gather them for him) and then could bang out 20 emails in an afternoon every few weeks explaining he is considering re-running the letter and asking for an update. Even if only 10% respond (I bet it would be higher), it wouldn't take too much effort to quickly build a stockpile of "new, improved, value-added" re-runs.

Just a thought.....
Posted by Kevin_BGFH http://biggayfrathouse.typepad.com/blog/ on March 14, 2014 at 4:55 PM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 31
Kevin BGFH @30: There IS a follow-up this time. The unregistered poster at @20 wrote, saying he was the current (non-crazy) BF in the letter.

But, yeah, reruns with follow-up, especially by the original LW would be much more interesting. And since letters arrived by email and there are legions of TSARY to cast a net for updates, it does seem very doable.

And/or run a poll on the letters that readers would most like to see a follow-up on. Some won't be reachable or wouldn't want to respond, but some would.
Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on March 15, 2014 at 1:02 PM · Report this
32
#20s follow-up seems to confirm my original thoughts on the LW--that she's a self-important attention whore who is less worried about the feelings of her exes than she is with continuing to receive their attention and validation after she's broken up with them.
Posted by mshawn on March 15, 2014 at 6:08 PM · Report this
33
Speaking as somebody with anxiety issues, I know the letter writer isn't holding on to her neuroses for fun. Nobody does, umnless theyre faking it.What she needs is a therapist who will help her dvelop tools to overcome her anxieties.
Posted by Brie on April 14, 2014 at 10:17 PM · Report this

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