Stalkers and exes who need to learn to move on

Leaving affections in the past, or forgetting them as never-were, isn't as easy as for some people as others. Whether it's your a-hole ex or your unrequited love, it's time to let it go.

Q:

I’m into the wrong person. A few years ago, we met and went out a few times. We hooked up and hung out a few times after that. Now they keep bailing on me.

They respond when I initiate contact, but they never contact me on their own. It’s always the same thing: We agree to meet. They back out at the last minute or stand me up. I cry and go off on voicemail or text, and they ignore me. Days later, I feel bad for freaking out and have to be the one to apologize. 

Recently after I was stood up, I’d had enough. I went over there after midnight to make a scene, and it was, well, bad. I know it was wrong, but I’m sick of the mixed messages. I can’t break this hold this person has on me. How can I make them stop leading me on?

Dear Stalker:

You know that saying, “It’s not you, it’s me”? Well in this case it’s you, and that can be a hard thing to accept.

What you are doing is unhealthy for you and damaging to the other person. What you call mixed messages from them sound more like lame attempts to de-escalate the situation. They’re not leading you on. They’re trying – if haphazardly – to manage and appease your emotions so that it doesn’t turn into into something more scary and dangerous.

Their actions are telling you all you need to know, so listen carefully: You haven’t gone out or hooked up in years. You are not even exes. They are ignoring your frantic texts after standing you up repeatedly. 

They aren’t going to wake up tomorrow, or ever, and realize you should be together. Period.

It’s good you acknowledge the pattern of behavior on both sides, because you should repeat the details to a professional who can really help. You are obsessed, and you can treat this like any addiction.

Start by accepting that you’ve wasted years and immeasurable emotional energy on this person. You might also try confiding in trusted friends to hold you accountable. Have them check in and ask you how it’s going as you go through recovery. 

If you don’t have anyone like that, maybe check out a Reddit group called “No Contact.” Members there support each other in going cold-turkey from exes and other objects of affection they shouldn’t ever see.

There is no easy or quick solution to any addiction, so commit to a long-term solution sooner rather than later.

Q:

My ex was a total asshole, but I can’t stop thinking about her. It’s been a year since I made a clean break got away from her lies and emotional abuse, but for some reason part of me still longs for her. 

I’m talking to a great new woman now, but I can’t focus completely because this nagging voice won’t let my ex go. I know I should ignore it, but I can’t. 

Dear Move On:

There’s no such thing as a clean break. Just because you know you “should” look ahead, it’s not always easy. Acknowledge unresolved issues from the relationship, and allow yourself to work through the emotions. Grieve. Where there’s closure, there’ll be peace.

The Q is for entertainment purposes and not professional counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected]

Illustration by Brad Gibson.

This feature was originally aggregated and compiled in Q magazine. Read the full issue below, and pick up a new edition each Thursday.