One of my readers sent me this email:
My ex seems to be obsessed with what I’m doing, where I’m living and my relationship status. She’s the one who wanted a divorce and it’s been final for over a year. Why do you think she’s like that and do you have any advice on how to break her of it?
I feel like there are two sides to this story. On one hand, I get it. The relationship is over, and the only topic of conversation between the two of you should be about the kids (if you have any together.) I understand how it could be frustrating and it could make you angry that the person who wanted to divorce you is now so curious/interested in your life. That’s hurtful. You probably want to say, “Why do you care who I’m dating, where I’m spending my free time, or how my life is going?” You chose to end it with me. You threw me away. You didn’t care at the time, so why do you care now?”
Here is the flipside. I believe that when a marriage/relationship ends, regardless of who ends it or why, women are the ones who tend to want to remain friendly. Not really sure why. It might just be a gender difference, since women are more communicative/expressive, in general.
Your ex’s “obsession” with what you are doing and your relationship status might just be her way of keeping in touch, making sure you are OK. She might be happy to hear you are in a relationship because it takes some of her guilt of hurting you off her plate. She might feel conflicted about you dating other women because her decision to end it wasn’t easy and she’s still trying to sort out her feelings. Or, she might regret her decision of ending the marriage and want you back, but too afraid to tell you.
I’m surprised her interrogation of you is so bothersome. It sounds to me like you are resentful that she is now taking an interest in your life. I can’t say I blame you nor I can I say it’s justified because I don’t know your exact situation. Only you can answer those questions and figure out why she bugs you so much. Obviously she hurt you, and you have a wall up. Why is the wall so high? Do you think you could ever be friends with her? Maybe that’s sincerely all she wants. Or, maybe you are afraid if you let her in again, she will hurt you again–not even to get back together, but even just as friends.
You have two choices:
1. Don’t respond. Do you have to answer her texts/emails/phone calls? I don’t know if you have kids, but if you do, you have to have a relationship with her. AND, she has to know where you live. Sorry. She needs to know where her children are sleeping. But, other than that, she has no right to ask questions, especially about your love life if you don’t want to share. So, you have no obligation to respond. You might find that if you stop responding, she will eventually stop asking you questions about your personal life.
2. Confront her. Sit her down and say, “Why are you taking such an interest in what I am doing and who I’m dating? Do you want me back? Are you just curious? What are your reasons?” Tell her you are trying to move on, and that if she cares about you at all, she will respect that and help you by leaving you alone. If that’s what you really want.
Here’s the thing. I think you are still very hurt by her, and maybe there’s a part of you who is hopeful and excited that she cares so much. But, your defense mechanism is saying, “Why is she still bothering me?” Deep down it gives you some control back over a situation where you feel like you had none.
I sound like I’m trying to be a psychologist, and I’m not. I just feel like I see this a lot with divorced men and women, and it is usually the person who broke it off who wants the “friendly” relationship. The one who was left usually has no interest in being buddy buddy, or in many cases, even civil (which is sad to me, but understandable in some cases.)
Just remember that she will always be your family, whether that makes you happy or makes you cringe. And family should never be left out in the cold, in my opinion. Unless she did something unthinkably horrible to you, you might want to consider being friendly with her. It might work if you set boundaries and focus on the fact that the two of you were once significant to each other, which justifies some type of positive relationship, in my opinion.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially” for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.
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