I Have a Wonderful Boyfriend, But My Ex Keeps Me Hanging On


Dear Evan,

I have a bit of a situation right now. My college sweetheart whom I have dated for the past 5 years decided to move out of town. On that account, he decided to break off the relationship with me because he says that he is not ready to be in a relationship right now, but wouldn’t mind to come back with me once he’s ready (which is according to him in the next 5 years – after he has finished fooling around). It has now been a year and a half, and during that time, I have been dating this new guy who I really like. However, I find myself being emotionally unavailable for this guy because somehow I’m still hung up on my ex as I have this image that he will come back to me in the future. My ex basically keeps me on a leash – he’s not my boyfriend but he contacts me every day and knowing that I love him, it’s hard not to resist. The guy I am dating now doesn’t know of this situation and my ex also doesn’t know that I am dating someone else. It’s hard for me to make a decision on who I should commit to. My ex asks if I want to come back with him – but I’m worried that due to his past behavior (non-committal behavior) that he will just end up breaking my heart again and again just like before. But at the same time, I feel that I’m not available for this new guy and I feel that I am cheating on him. Can you help shine a light in my love life?

Cheers, A.

Until you cut him off, you will never be free to love again.

Cut him off.

Cut him off now.

Until you cut him off, you will never be free to love again.

Your ex knows it and loves it and exploits it mercilessly. He thinks he’s being a nice guy because he was “honest” that he needed five years to fool around, but all he’s doing is giving you false hope at a non-existent future.

Actions speak far louder than words — both for you, and for him.

His action — breaking up with you — should have spoken volumes about how he felt about you, but, apparently, it did not. Because the message — YOU GOT DUMPED SO HE COULD SLEEP WITH STRANGERS – is lessened by the fact that he still calls you every day and talks about getting back together eventually. How nice for you.

And your action — allowing your selfish ex to continue this charade, and committing emotional adultery on your current boyfriend — says a lot about how you feel. You already know this and you called attention to it in your email.

So where does this leave you, A?   With a pretty clear path, if you want to know the truth. Consider your options:

1)             Keep the status quo. Talk to your ex-boyfriend every day. Keep your dangerous fantasies alive. Lie to your current boyfriend. Close off the possibility for true closeness and intimacy.

2)             Cut off the ex entirely because he DUMPED you. Give yourself to the man who is NOT dumping you. Watch as your relationship grows with your committed efforts. Learn the meaning of true love.

Most of us cling to our fantasies as long as we can because a piece of us dies when we let them go.

The only thing you lose when you cut off the ex is this: the fantasy that it’ll eventually work out. Most of us cling to our fantasies as long as we can because a piece of us dies when we let them go. But for you to truly move on, you HAVE to tell your ex that it was nice knowing him and best of luck in the future. Sure, he’ll beg to come back — because that’s HIS self-preservation mechanism — but you will be strong enough to resist him.

You know why?

Because you’ll be looking in the eyes of your real boyfriend — the one who wants to be with you.

I assure you, it’s a much better view.

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  1. 1

    Yeah, I’m with Evan on this one. Men don’t dump their girlfriends and move to other cities if they’re invested in the relationship. If he was invested, then he would do everything in his power on a daily basis to make sure that the woman he loved was happy and wanted to stay with them.

    So, he doesn’t love you – you’re his backup plan. Who’s okay with that? I wouldn’t be.
    .-= Honey’s last blog ….Revelations Part III: What’s Your Fighting Style? =-.

  2. 2

    While it is easier said than done, Evan’s spot on. Cut it off. Get mentally tough because as long as you have ANY sort of contact at all with the ex, you’re leaving him room to manipulate you. The pain of giving up the fantasy is a lot eaiser than the pain of constant doubt and manipulation. You know this situation is wrong and it’s messing with you or you would not have written Evan.

  3. 3
    Mikko Kemppe - Relationship Coach

    I agree with Evan also. Unless you process the end of your relationship with your ex-boyfriend as if he will never come back, it is hard for you to move on. I know this is often hard to do. Your mind always moves faster than your heart. You already know that your ex is not the right one for you, but your heart is still attached. To properly heal and to let go for you to fully learn from your brake up and to prepare for a better relationship next time takes time. Congratulations for already taking the first step to ask for more support by asking a question from an expert! Wish you the best!
    .-= Mikko Kemppe – Relationship Coach’s last blog ….Why Do Women Cheat? =-.

  4. 4


    Pretty blunt and to the point. Yeah, I gotta agree with Evan, it’s past time to dump the college sweetheart who’s put you on his back burner for the last year and a half. I’d tell him too that you have found someone else.

    If you do really like the new guy, start putting all your focus and energy into him. I have to wonder though, how much you REALLY like him, if you’ve been holding onto these feelings for your ex, daily calls, etc. He may turn out to be “the transitional guy”. Don’t suppose you’ll know though until after you finalize it with Mr. Back-burner.

  5. 5

    wow evan, bravo!!!!! could not have said it any better myself. Would like to add, to the OP: the ex is NEVER going to change. He obviously has emotional/commitment/intimacy issues that he’ll need to figure out on his own if he chooses to. If you think that someday he is just going to wake up one day and be a loving, committed boyfriend… well, I don’t mean to sound overly harsh but you are being completely delusional. I know it’s easier said than done but heed Evan’s advice, allow yourself to be in a loving, healthy relationship and walk, no run away from the ex, as fast as you can. (shouldn’t be too hard since it sounds like he has moved away) Good luck!!!

  6. 6

    I’m surprised you were able to keep this guy you’ve been dating, and I’m assuming a good guy, and keep this thing with your ex going at the same time…not surprised that you could, that you would. It’s called dishonesty and deceit. Is that good relationship material? I think not. How would your current (“new guy” – of 1 1/2 years!) guy feel if he found out? Your playing with fire and you are probably going to end up hurting the guy who does want you. Evans right. You are playing with anothers heart.

  7. 7

    Can’t imagine anyone would disagree with EMK here. Your ex is getting all the benefits of a relationship with you, with none of the commitment. Since you’re already dating a guy you say you “really like”, what are YOU getting out of keeping this long-expired, dead-end relationship going?

  8. 8

    This is one of those situations where the answer seems obvious to all of us on the outside, but because the OP is close to the situation, it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees. This is why a) you want to make sure you maintain a healthy amount of objectivity in a relationship and b) you make sure you have friends who have your best interests at heart who are not afraid to tell you what you need to hear.

  9. 9

    @Ava #7

    That puzzled me also. Usually when you “really like” someone, your ex seems rather inconsequential. I wonder how long she has been dating new guy?

  10. 10

    Look at it this way. Your ex was probably cheating on you when you were together, you just may not have known about it. He is behaving like a scum now, basically, keeping you hooked in due to his own insecurities. What makes you think he won’t continue cheating on you even if you DID get back together? Once a cheater, always a cheater. You have allowed him to treat you like crap this long, why would that change? Do you really want a philandering husband? No… ? Then cut bait. Change your phone number and e-mail address if necessary. Cold turkey. Frankly, if it were me, I would do it with a “Dear John” e-mail, not a call where you can hear his voice and he can beg/sweet talk you into giving him another chance. He doesn’t deserve any considerateness on your part.

  11. 11

    I actually agree with Evan here…completely..which doesn’t happen that I agree completely with him on things.

  12. 12

    She needs to consider the feelings of the guy she’s currently dating. If he finds out that she’s still speaking to the ex, all she’ll have left is some guy who dumped her to screw other chicks.
    .-= Marc’s last blog ….WHAT THE F&$% ARE YOU TALKIN’ BOUT, WILLIS?! =-.

  13. 13

    The only person who can keep you on a leash is yourself. It’s not easy to admit to ourselves that we can sometimes be our own worse enemy or enabler. I believe there are deeper issues at work here that lie within your inner makeup. What is it about yourself that makes you continue to love and want to continue envisioning a supposed future with someone who broke up with you to admittedly fool around for another five years and then toy with your emotions, trying to keep you hanging on with what is likely his professed romantic garbage when he calls you daily!?

    It’s so painful to let someone who you dearly love go. I know this all too well. It’s gut-wrenching, and one of the hardest things a human being can experience. But you owe it to yourself most of all, and to the guy who you now like to stop torturing yourself over and over again. You can’t be there in the way that your new guy deserves, as you know.

    Let your ex go … no matter what he says or does, and he may say plenty. You MUST stand strong. No man who truly loves you would do these things! And I don’t mean let him go by just stopping all daily contact with him. Let him also go in your heart. This letting go will be a grieving process that you need to experience, and honestly, I think it was a mistake to start dating someone new until the feelings with your ex were dealt with head on and that situation concluded. Look at what has started to happen? You’re cheating on your new guy with an ex who is lying, and manipulating you. That is a terrible way to start a relationship.

    It’s never too late. Let the ex go. Give yourself time to heal. Then with a clear heart you will know what your next move should be.

    Great advice, Evan.

  14. 15

    Stop thinking of your Ex and just think of all the good things in your present boyfriend. If you keep thinking of any good things in your Ex, you will never be able to Cut him off! Think of all the Bad that he did to you and dumped your relationship. Just give your best to your new relation and forget the past!
    .-= Datingdownunder’s last blog ….Keeping Balanced In A New Relationship =-.

  15. 16

    Let’s call a spade a spade; you don’t have a “wonderful boyfriend”, and you don’t “like” him; you have a sucker – a sucker you cheat, abuse and exploit.

    Your rendition of being kept “on a leash,” is apt. No doubt because on a leash is where you feel you belong and a place you so richly deserve.

    Do yourself a favor: cut the crap and become a woman of your word.

  16. 17

    All I can say is… Amen and Amen! The advice here from EMK and everyone else is spot on. I loved what EMK said about how when our fantasies die, a part of us dies with them. That’s so true and it hurts SO bad. But the thing is, something old always has to die in order for something new to be born.
    .-= FrogPrincess’s last blog ….The World’s Most Boring Date: Part One =-.

  17. 18

    Evan, right on!!

    Selena and Steven, good points. You have to wonder about this new guy, it seems as if OP is treating him the same way her ex BF has been treating her.

    Makes me wonder, do guys sense if a woman is not 100% emotionally there? Is that part of the appeal?

    It seems that whenever a woman is really into a guy he gets scared away, so we’re taught to be cool and confident, perhaps date 1 or 2 other guys at first and keep the main guy guessing until he commits. Yes, it’s game playing, but many guys have told me that anything that makes them try harder for a woman they like makes her more attractive.

    Maybe this is why I’m still single. I’m happy if I meet one decent guy and suck at game playing.

  18. 19

    I just realized that in a similar way, you’re doing to your new guy what your ex is doing to you. You know how this feels, so please … show some integrity, do the right thing. And I think you know what the right thing to do is, even without writing to a dating expert for the answer. You just may not want to deal with it.

  19. 20

    I have a somewhat different take on this.

    Like Evan and all the commenters above, I do agree that you should cut off contact with your ex. Don’t be apologetic about it, and don’t indulge in LONG explanations (I should know; I have done these things far too often in the past). Just say, “This isn’t working for me; please don’t communicate with me anymore.” No need to specify a reason.

    HOWEVER, it doesn’t sound as though you’re really deeply in love with this new guy, either. I would think that, regardless of whether your ex is contacting you, you would know whether or not you were crazy about the guy you were dating. If you’re not… then is he really the right one for you? There is nothing wrong with continuing to date him to find out, but you should also probably keep your eyes open for other men. So long as you are just in the dating stage with this other (nice-sounding) guy, there is nothing wrong with keeping your options open. Don’t fear being unattached.

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