Stalkers and exes who don’t know how to let go

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


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. I cry or go off in a text, and they ignore me. Days later, I feel bad for freaking out and apologize.

Recently after I was stood up, I went over there after midnight to make a scene. I know it was wrong, but I’m sick of the mixed messages. How can I make them stop leading me on?

Dear Stalker:

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

What you call mixed messages sound more like lame attempts to de-escalate the situation. They’re not leading you on as much as trying – haphazardly – to manage your emotions so that it doesn’t turn into something scary or dangerous.

Their actions tell 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 you and standing you up repeatedly.

They aren’t going to wake up and realize you should date. Ever.

Repeat those details to a professional who can help. You are obsessed, and together you can treat this like any addiction.

Start by accepting the lost time and energy you spent on this person. You might also try confiding in trusted friends to hold you accountable 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 unrequited objects of affection.

There is no easy or quick solution to any addiction, so commit to a long-term solution and start the process.


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

I’m talking to a great new guy now, but I can’t focus completely because my brain won’t let my ex go.

Dear Move On:

Just because you know you “should” look ahead, it’s not always easy. Acknowledge unresolved issues, and allow yourself to work through the emotions. Grieve. Where there’s closure, there’s peace.

Illustration by Brad Gibson

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This column also appeared in Q ATLus magazine. Read the full issue here:

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