by Gena Kaufman
Does our reader's ex have a case of dumper's remorse, or is he just messing with her head? Let's help her discuss…
My ex told me that he didn't want to be in a relationship this past September. I told him OK and let it be, but ever since he's been contacting me every two or so weeks. He wants to either pick up his stuff from my place, say merry Christmas, happy New Year, ask me how my family is doing, how my vacation was...
He just moved to Taiwan, and I'm in New York. But he's still contacting me. Last week we talked for two hours. I just recently sent him a quick email about something funny on a trip we went on last winter, and his response was kind of short. What are all these mixed signals about? He contacts me and wants to talk, but when I contact him, it's not the same conversational outcome.
I would gladly take him back, but I'm not even sure if he wants to be with me. Let me know if you have any advice.
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I do have some advice here, and it's advice it took me a long time to be able to follow myself. In fact, it's a process I'm still working on, so know that I sympathize with how hard it is to do…but you've got to cut this guy off from contact and stick to it.
I know you want to read his behavior and his inability to go without talking to you as a sign that he still has feelings for you, and, yes, he probably does in his own small, messed-up way. That doesn't mean he wants to be with you, and it most definitely doesn't mean you should be considering taking him back if that's what he wants.
The most likely scenario is that he's using you as a crutch, someone to be there when he's lonely or bored but ignoring you when he has other things to do. That's not cool. If he doesn't want to be in a relationship with you, he doesn't get to have the girlfriend-y benefits he got when he was your boyfriend. Even if I give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he really just cares about you as a friend and wants to keep you in his life, there are two major problems with that. One, he's not acting like much of a friend by not reciprocating when you're the one who wants to talk, and two, you aren't ready to be friends with him. Since you haven't moved on from the breakup, it's not emotionally healthy for you to be friends with this guy, even if he were the best friend in the world. Um, which he's not. For your own sake, you need some time with him completely out of your life.
Luckily, that should be fairly easy to do since you're in separate countries. Which brings me to my final point of why you definitely shouldn't consider getting back together with this guy: Long-distance relationships are hard enough. Would you really want to be in one with someone you couldn't read even when you were in the same place? Think about it. You don't. He didn't want a relationship here, and now he's gone. It's time to let him go.
You could try just ignoring him, but I'm getting a persistent vibe from this guy that tells me you might need to spell it out first. I'd keep it short and sweet: "Look, our relationship meant a lot to me, and I wish you all the best, but I don't think it's a good idea for us to be in touch. I need some time on my own, so I would appreciate it if you wouldn't call or email me." Then stick to your guns and don't respond if he doesn't stop contacting you.
What do you all think? Is this guy giving mixed signals? How should our reader respond?