I’ve always wanted to be an advice columnist. In fact, that was one thing I wrote in those “where do you see yourself in ten years” sections in those “senior” books we got in high school. Anyway, I wrote this as an “audition piece” for an online women’s magazine. The magazine hasn’t officially launched because of some family issues the editor-in-chief had, so I’ve been given the “green light” to publish this in my own blog. The advice is to the 20-year-old me from the [censored]-year-old me.
My column name is “The Girl in the Back of the Room” I chose it because that’s the girl who sees everything that’s going on. That, and that’s who I was through most of high school. I hope you like it.
I’m a college student who has been dating her boyfriend for about a year. He just kind of ‘swept’ me into his life; I had just broken up with a long-term boyfriend and he gave me a lot of attention when I needed it. The trouble is, it’s gotten to where it’s a little *too* much attention. He always has to know where I am at any given time and makes me feel bad if I want to be alone in my dorm room or hang out with my suite-mates rather than spending time with him. I want to break up with him and have tried to on a couple of occasions, but he always talks me out of it-he says he loves me, that he can’t live without me, that I’m the best thing that ever happened to him, etc. He’s even said that he’ll hurt himself if I leave. I don’t love him or feel the same way about him, but I can’t help but feel like I have to stay so I won’t be responsible for anything that happens to him. If he were to kill himself because of me, I would feel like a terrible person for the rest of my life.
My friends say I need to tell him goodbye in no uncertain terms, but I don’t know how to without feeling mean. I’ve always had a problem with being too nice, but I don’t know any other way to be. My friends also say he’s playing on my good nature and manipulating me into staying with him. I’m starting to agree with them. But how can I break up with him so he’ll leave me alone without having to be mean about it?
-Confused in Connecticut
I wouldn’t normally use the words, ‘Bite me’ in an advice column, but I think it fits here; this is what you need to say to your ex because he doesn’t seem able to understand much else! You’ve tried to let him down easy, but now it sounds like you’re going to have to bite the bullet and be blunt. Tell him how you feel or, in this case, don’t feel. Yes, you’ll hurt him and feel like you’re being mean, but sometimes you really can’t avoid it. Despite his statements to the contrary, the nicest thing you can do here is make a clean break.
As for him talking you out of it, don’t give him the chance. Do what you can to avoid being alone with him. Have someone else with you whenever you can. Don’t answer his emails, don’t take his calls, ignore his knocks on your door and have your suite-mates to do the same. If you have to, report him to campus police.
You are not-I repeat, not-responsible for what happens to him! It’s not up to you to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself because he’s the one who controls his actions, not you. If he truly is suicidal, he needs to see a doctor. Either way, I agree with your friends-he’s probably saying this to make you feel guilty. I hate to say it, but what you’re describing sounds like the beginnings of an abusive relationship. If you go on any longer, things will only get worse until you find yourself in too deep to get out. Do yourself a favor and get out now. Believe it or not, it’s okay to think of yourself sometimes. If you’re really concerned about him, tell him to use the campus counseling services or have a mutual friend check up on him. Whoever talks him through it, it should not be you.
As for being a bad person, that is not even close to being true. It would be one thing if you were hurting him out of spite, but you’re not. The fact that you are concerned about it at all shows how *good* a person you are.
Apparently hindsight really *is* 20/20. Maybe now I can finally let go of that chapter of my life.