How much do our exes reflect on us? I began dating someone I’ve grown to love immensely for the past few months. However, his ex has been acting profoundly unstable since he and I got together. Recently, I had to change my phone number because she kept sending me pictures of her cutting herself and asking me why I “stole” him. She keeps threatening suicide unless he comes back to her, and he has to talk her out of these episodes, though I don’t feel comfortable with them talking. The other day, I found tons of dried bloody bandages taped on my door in the formation “F U”, and I think it was her, though I can’t prove it. I’ve also been receiving really threatening phone calls from anonymous numbers, though the voices are male, so I also can’t prove that she’s involved. I don’t want to report it because I’m worried it’ll tip her over the edge. She’s already tried to kill herself twice before, once by poisoning herself on my boyfriend’s lawn in the middle of the night. Her antics are having a devastating effect on our relationship, especially because I believe it would be better if he cut contact with her completely, which he refuses to do. I’m starting to be haunted by what it says about him that he could go out with someone like this for four years, which were by his admission, very happy in the beginning. Is it likely something is wrong with him too?
I really hope this submission is some twisted play on a cult horror movie, but if not, this situation escalated out of normalcy long ago, and it is high time to do something.
The answer is not for your boyfriend to cut contact with his ex completely, contrary to what you wish. She is clearly volatile, desperate for attention and likely to inflict self-harm, a dangerous combination that shouldn’t be tested. Asking your boyfriend to choose between potentially saving her life or saving his relationship with you is selfish, and you are bound to lose. Your boyfriend doesn’t enjoy the routine crises of talking her down from the edge, but he is doing it because he feels like he has no other choice.
You are correct, however, when you say it should not be your boyfriend’s onus to protect his ex from herself, which is an emotionally exhausting and unsustainable responsibility. Someone who is better equipped to deal with this situation needs to get involved –– namely, a healthcare professional. His ex’s behavior is injurious and indicative of mental illness. She needs treatment. Counseling can also allow the two of you to get to a place where you aren’t haunted by the situation you’re going through. Your relationship with your boyfriend will only become more strained with every terrifying episode.
The threats made against you are another reason to get her help, because the bandages and the phone calls are downright disturbing. Not to scare you, but if she is behind them, there is no telling what she might do next, given her current state of irrationality. If she is not behind them … In any case, I would report it.
Instead of being hung up on the fact that your boyfriend dated his ex for four years, be glad that you’re dating a compassionate person who isn’t turning his back on someone who is indubitably unhealthy. More than likely, his ex did not act like this when they were dating. A traumatic event, such as a hard breakup, can definitely spur a psychological breakdown. Until your boyfriend’s behavior gives you reason to believe something is off with him, don’t judge him by the actions of others.
Tiffany Kuan is a senior majoring in business administration. Her blog advice column, Ask Tiffany, runs every Monday.
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