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Why Won't My Ex Let Me Go?


Published February 18, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

Dear Athena,

After two and a half years of dating, my girlfriend broke up with me six months ago. We tried the friend thing for a little; however, I ended up explaining to her that I could not be her friend and needed space to get over her. She is not happy with my decision but said she would respect it. She didn't. I still get random calls about nothing and text messages saying she loves me. She's been telling me for months that she will get her things from my house, but she never does. She said her reason for breaking up was to get herself together, and that she didn't want to be tied down in a relationship during that process. But, when she is ready to settle down, she wants to do so with me. I'm respecting her decision, but why can't she respect my decision to move on?

Dissed and Confused

Dear Dissed and Confused,

This is a classic case of someone trying to have her cake and eat it, too. Breakups are hard, and it can be a challenge to let go of someone you care about. But this chick is totally taking advantage of you.

Not only is she being disrespectful and selfish, she sounds clueless. It's completely uncool to ask you to wait around while she sorts herself out, all the while leaving messages that add to your confusion. I'm glad to hear that you're ready to move on. It's nice when two people can be friends after a breakup — but it's rare. This is one split that doesn't have friend potential, at least not right now.

Your ex is likely conflicted, genuinely needing some time for herself but still harboring feelings for you. She's holding on, unfairly so, because you're safe. Leaving stuff at your place is probably a misguided attempt to maintain some control in her life — or maybe she's just being a jackass. But she can't have it all, so it's up to you to assert some control here.

Step 1: Don't answer her calls. Send her right to voicemail. Step 2: Block her texts, and have them bounce back to her so she knows. Step 3: If you're Facebook friends, unfriend her. Step 4: Pack up her stuff and bring it to her place. If she has a roommate, try to coordinate with him or her so you don't have to see your ex.

I know this all sounds a bit harsh, but she needs to understand with your actions — because words aren't working — that you need some serious space. You won't get it if you allow her to carry on this way. She will keep one foot in your door unless you close it and change the locks.

This may not leave room for a romantic reunion in the future. But you deserve respect, and you're not getting it. If she's upset or angry, that's her problem. After all, she's the one who did the breaking up.