Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Ex-Boyfriend" Needs "Closure" To Let Go; May Suffer From Erotomania

Dear Tazi:

My ex-boyfriend (and I hesitate to elevate him to that status) "Spencer" - who I only dated for a few months - has enough issues to fill a month's worth of your columns; thus the reason he is an EX-boyfriend/guy I briefly dated. As I mentioned, we only dated for a few months (not quite two); but he refuses to leave me alone. He keeps asking if we can "try again". He suggests that we get together for coffee to discuss "what issues each of us needs to address and focus on changing" in order for the relationship to work.

First off, I do not believe we were together long enough to define what Spencer and I had as a "relationship"; and second, I do not want to get back together with him, so why should I focus on changing who I am to suit him? When I pointed these facts out to him (much more tactfully than I do here) Spencer went off into a tirade about how I am refusing to accept my "share of the responsibility for the failure of our relationship" and that this issue is adding to his already heavy stress load. Tazi, our relationship failed because he is a self-centered dreamer who is all talk and no action. With his charming personality he can win people over until they discover the truth about him: that every word out of his mouth is a lie; that he suffers from a ridiculously inflated sense of self-worth; and that his charm is all that he has going for him. When I explained this to Spencer - in those exact words - he told me that I should get counseling, since I am obviously "deflecting" my own issues of low self-esteem onto him, and that he would be willing to accommodate me by attending couples' counseling with me. I do not suffer from low self-esteem, do not need counseling, and certainly do not want to attend couples' counseling with him because we are not - and never were - a couple! The relationship was never said to be exclusive, nor do I believe my actions led him to believe it was!

Tazi, I admit that I broke things off with him rather suddenly; telling him over the phone one night that I did not see a future between us and that I think we should make a clean break of things, but at least I told him voice to voice and not via text message. Spencer keeps telling me that I have "denied" him the "closure" he needs to move on with his life, and that I am not being fair to him by changing my phone number (which did not work; he managed to get the new one from a mutual acquaintance unfamiliar with the situation), ignoring his calls, and refusing delivery of the flowers he tries to send me. Short of taking out a restraining order against the guy, what can I do to get him to leave me alone? Should I meet him for coffee just this once to prove to him that there is nothing there?

Moved On

Dear Moved On:

Obviously, whatever occurred between you and Spencer meant a lot more to him than it did to you. What the dynamic was between the two of you is something you do not mention - did you see each other every day? Once or twice a week? A few dates? Hot and heavy? You mention that exclusivity was never discussed; but it appears that Spencer assumed it. For this one reason, it would have been more appropriate to break up with him in person, not over the phone. Should Spencer call you again, I think a quasi-apology (from you) expressing this fact would be appropriate. You do not have to get all remorseful; just a simple, "Spencer, obviously our friendship meant more to you than I realized, and I should have respected your feelings enough to break up with you in person. However, what's done is done. I have moved forward with my life, and it would be best if you did the same". Notice that the words "I'm sorry" do not appear anywhere in the above statement.

If Spencer continues to suggest that you get together to discuss where things went wrong, answer the phone ONE TIME, to simply repeat that you have moved forward with your life and think it would be best if he moved on, as well. If he continues to demand "closure" tell him that this is the best that he is going to get from you. Ignore any further phone calls from him, as well as any other form of attempted contact - by giving him your attention you are giving him what exactly what he wants. It does not matter that you are thinking horrible thoughts about him; the point is, you are thinking of him.

If Spencer decides to bring things to the next level by following you around in person or showing up at places you frequent at times he knows you will be there, do your best to ignore him. If he approaches you, report him to the management; they will most likely ask him to leave the building. If he starts creeping on you via social media, block him and/or turn your page private for a few weeks - eventually, he will give up on you.

If none of these tactics work - or especially if they make the situation worse - Spencer may suffer from a rare (but very real) mental illness called "erotomania", a very serious disorder in which the stalker believes their victim(s) are truly in love with them but are just playing hard to get; and the more you push them away, the deeper they believe that you really and truly love them. In a case such as this - and you will know it if it is such a case - legal intervention will be necessary to secure your personal safety and mental well-being. An excellent book on this topic is I Know You Really Love Me: A Psychiatrist's Account of Stalking and Obsessive Love, a first-person account by Dr. Doreen Orion. Included in the book is a chapter on resources for the victims of erotomaniacs. I wish you all the best. Please write back to me to let me (and my readers) know how things turn out for you.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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