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Do I Owe Anything To My Ex?

do i owe anything to my ex

Question 2

Dear Dr. NerdLove,

I’ve gotten myself into an awful mess. I got back with my ex a few days ago who is mentally ill. We broke up a year and a half ago, and I started really missing him, kind of forgetting how bad things were between us.

I was romanticizing all the positives, which were non-existent during our last several months together. He has BPD, bipolar disorder, and acute anxiety. He was suicidal when we broke up. He is heavily medicated and I thought he was stable, but I’m beginning to see that he is far from it.

I feel trapped already and I’m starting to have anxiety over getting back with him. I’m not even sure I love him. I don’t know what to do, and I feel terrible about breaking up with him as this will set him back even further. He has a 14-year-old son at home. I am selfish for doing this, and I have a host of health issues, depression being one, but mostly physical, including pain issues.

The stress is going to crush me, I feel. I’m also afraid he will become suicidal again if I break up with him. Please help!


Dr. Nerdlove:

Here’s what I ask people who are in your situation Trapped – where they know they made a mistake, but they are afraid to leave because they are afraid something bad will happen to their partner when they do: how long are you willing to be in this relationship out of fear? Are you going to stay with him for the rest of your life out of fear of what he may or may not do? Are you willing to sacrifice your health and emotional well-being in a misguided belief that you and you alone can help him?

You’re not his doctor, Trapped, nor his nurse, nor his counselor, or any kind of mental health professional. You’re a person in a bad situation and who’s desperately out of her depth and you’re sinking deeper.

You need to leave him Trapped, and you need to leave him immediately. If you’re worried about what may happen then you can give his family or friends a heads-up about what’s about to happen. Once you’ve decided to break up with him, you need to make two phone calls. The first is to his immediate family that you’re breaking up with him and they should be aware that he may need them, in case he backslides or becomes suicidal. The second is to your boyfriend, to let him know.

Related: Why You Should Cut The Cord With An Ex

(Normally I believe that if you’re going to break up with someone, you should respect them enough to do it face to face, but there are exceptions. This is one of them.)

You can also leave him with a note with numbers and URLs of mental health resources in his area, including the suicide hotline before you leave. But you need to leave. And if he calls or threatens suicide and you believe that he’s serious (and I can’t stress this enough: ONLY if you believe he’s serious), then you should call his parents and emergency services.

It’s a shame that leaving him may hurt him, Trapped, but staying won’t help him and it will hurt you.

Get out. Now. And write back to let me know how you’re doing.

Good luck.

Folks who would love to learn more, Subscribe to Dr Nerdlove’s YouTube channel.

Written by Harris O' Malley
Originally appeared in Dr. NerdLove
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Harris O’Malley

Harris O' Malley is a dating coach who provides geek dating advice at Paging Dr. NerdLove, as well as on Kotaku  and elsewhere. He and his work has been featured on Nightline, Vice, The Guardian, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, Wired, Sex Nerd Sandra, Daily Life, Slate, The Austin-American Statesman, Austin Monthly, Geek and Sundry, Boing Boing, Everyday Feminism, Buzzfeed, The Daily Dot, The Washington Post, Kotaku, Lifehacker,, The Good Man Project, MTV’s Guy Code, The Harvard Business Journal, and many others. Paging Dr. NerdLove has been featured as one of the top 10 dating blogs on DatingAdvice.comView Author posts